Ever since I was a little girl I’ve always tried to find a way to bring my interests into my daily life. It may have been wearing my hair like one of the Brady Bunch, convincing my mother that I needed that Partridge Family purse (which I was too embarrassed to carry in public, sorry Mom) or wearing purple socks like Donny Osmond. (You don’t even want to know about my Princess Diana period.) It’s not that I need the world to know about my interests, I just like to have a daily personal connection to things that I love.
It’s been no different with Laura but I never could figure out a way to bring her into my modern world. I have collected lots of items from the various homesites but it’s never seemed practical to wear a sunbonnet or drag my Charlotte doll to work with me every day. You can only wear your “Little Town on the Prairie” t-shirt in public so many times before people start to wonder about you.
Luckily I found a solution not too long ago. Through an email newsletter sent out by the LIW Memorial Society in De Smet, I saw a picture of Laura’s silverware, her wedding present from Almanzo. It’s a beautiful pattern that I would happily have picked for my own wedding silver, even without a LIW connection; unfortunately it was only made in the 19th century and is no longer for sale today – except through the magic of a certain online auction site. The pattern is called Crown and was introduced by Rogers Bros. in 1885, the year Laura and Almanzo were married. Laura wrote about her wedding silver in the book The First Four Years when she described the pantry Almanzo had made for her in their first little house:
“There was one drawer that already held a whole sack of white flour, a smaller one with graham flour, another with corn meal, a large shallow one for packages, and two others: one already filled with white sugar and the other one with brown. And one for Manly’s wedding present of silver knives and forks and spoons. Laura was so proud of them.”Later, when their house caught on fire, a neighbor went into the pantry and started throwing dishes and other household items out the window:
“… so the silver wedding knives and forks and spoons rolled up in their wrappers had survived.”Thanks to the quick thinking of that neighbor, visitors to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home and Museum at Rocky Ridge in Mansfield, Missouri can still see pieces of that wedding silver.
I started collecting pieces of this silver pattern a couple of years ago and eventually had enough place settings to give a small dinner party. But it wasn’t enough. I still wanted to find a way to bring Laura into my daily life. Then I remembered spoon jewelry. (Did anybody else out there have a spoon ring? They were all the rage when I was in junior high; and I had a couple of them.) But now I wanted something a little more useful than a spoon ring. Hmmm. How about a watch bracelet made of spoons? Was such a thing even possible? I thought it might be. But finding someone to make jewelry out of old spoons is not that easy. I contacted a few sellers on the aforementioned auction site and none of them wanted to touch my old spoons for fear of breaking them. I considered trying to do it myself, but then I came to my senses.
After almost a year of searching I found a vendor that specializes in all kinds of spoon jewelry and they were more than willing to take my “heritage” pieces and make a watch for me. Here is the result of their amazing work.
I love my watch. To everyone else it’s just a unique piece of silver jewelry and I get many compliments on it. But it’s so much more to me. I think about Laura every time I look down at my wrist and I’m thankful that Almanzo had such good taste in silver patterns.