Sometimes on the way to your dream,

you get lost and find a better one.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Hope Chest

 Hope Chests

Anyone remember those?

Of course you do. 

Way back in those "Days of Yore", young women learned at any early age how to screw up their noses, squint their little eyes, and stab their little fingers, while stitching away laboriously at cotton or linen items for their "Hope Chest".
By candlelight.
Antimacassars, doilies, table napkins, silk handkerchiefs, nightgowns, all were hemmed by hand and embroidered, some daintily, others heavily covered in hand stitched designs, then packed away in a large trunk or chest or some other kind of cabinet, waiting for the day when these girls would marry and use these lovingly (?) prepared items in their own homes.

I had never given any thought to getting married, certainly not to collecting stuff to furnish a home, but when I was sixteen I went to live with my mother, whose one mission in life seemed to be getting me safely married off.

She began giving me gifts at Christmas and birthdays that would go into my "Hope Chest".
Keep an eye on the younger kids (step siblings) for a day?
Rewarded with teatowels.

Bath towels, hand towels, face washers, either individual items or matched sets, dish towels, sheets and pillow cases, even a bedspread one year for Christmas.

She encouraged me to spend a little of my wages each week to buy something for my future home.

(Geez, I'd only been there three months and she wanted me to move out already?)

So I bought a kitchen utensil set, a set of knives, a set of saucepans, some wooden spoons.

As far as I could see, that would do. I had sheets, towels, (almost enough to stock the linen department at Myer), saucepans. What more could I possibly want?

Yes, ignorance was my middle name.

Then at work one day, I was listening in at lunch while a girl about my age was telling us about everything she had collected and the latest addition to her Hope Chest. A sturdy set of machine-bottomed saucepans. (Huh? What? A pan is a pan is a pan, right?)

She'd been working almost three years and had begun collecting items from the very first pay packet. Her bedroom was stacked full from floor to ceiling and she had boxes of things lining one side of her parents hallway. Half the backyard shed was filled with her stuff. (I wondered where she put herself at night). She had enough of everything to last her at least 10 years of marriage. Including canned foods, toilet paper, even baby clothes and nappies.

I was gobsmacked!

I didn't even have a boyfriend, wasn't thinking about my own future home yet.

But I went shopping the next payday and bought a half dozen teatowels.
After that I pretty much decided I'd wait until I had that future home and then buy whatever I was missing.
Later, I received a lot of useful stuff as wedding gifts, which was great.

This is all that's left.

The smallest of the set of five saucepans. They had bright copper coloured lids.

Bakelite handles sturdily rivetted on, there's no way those were ever coming loose or off.
Not like today's handles which need to be screwed in again every so often, especially on frypans.

The surface, inside and out, is much pitted now and the inside has a calcium patina from many years of boiling eggs.
This is the only thing I use it for now, it holds four eggs easily and since I don't use it for anyhting else, I rarely scrub it, just emptying the cooking water and giving it a quick rinse.

Even after 42 years, the machined grooves on the bottom of the pan are still not worn off, the base is completely level, except for those little dents caused by someone using the pan as a hammer for small headed nails.
Sturdy, long lasting pots, made from aluminium, which is supposed to be bad for you, but nobody knew that then.


  1. I remember hope chests...I didn't have one because I never intended to marry. Ha!

  2. Mine was my grandma's; my sister had our mother's hope chest. I kept things like my high school year book in mine.

  3. Hope Chest? We called it a Glory Box.

    I'm astonished anyone could outgather you.

    Start collecting, I'll propose soon.

  4. Wonder if it was a state thing. So far as I know, here they were glory boxes. As a kid, we had pots like that. I don't think they were very good really. And who might have hammered a nail in with the pot?

  5. We called 'em Glory Boxes down here :-).

  6. Imagine a bloke coming over to visit the girl with the 'hope chest' that filled her room - he'd be petrified!

  7. Oh and apparently the aluminium scare of the 1990s (Alzheimers) has been disproved now, so keep enjoying your eggs dear River.

  8. Delores; I didn't give much thought to marrying either. I just sort of wandered into it because everyone expected it. Not the best reason to marry, but I got four terrific children from it.

    Joanne; your high school year book? my hope chest was an old cabinet in my mum's living room.

    R.H. we called them Glory Boxes too. I've called them Hope Chests in the post for my overseas readers. I no longer need to collect, I have everything, and my answer is No.

    Andrew; more an international thing. Hope Chests in the US, Glory Boxes here in Aus. Those saucepans were excellent and lasted me about 15 years. I only passed them on because I got a new set for Christmas one year. I suspect I might have done the hammering.

    Windsmoke; we did call them Glory Boxes, I just used Hope Chest for my US readers, also because it's what I remembered from an old romance novel that I read last week.

    Kath; the girl I mentioned had a boyfriend from about age 13, she was determined to marry him and he knew it. He didn't seem to mind. They married soon after I did and our eldest children are the same age.
    I never worried too much about the aluminium, just like I never worry too much now about all the new "scary" information "they" come out with.

  9. I had a glory box. I remember my grandmothers giving me tea towels and linen for birthday presents and Christmas, and I used to be so disappointed as a kid. These days, I would love for someone to buy me bed linen and new towels.

  10. R.H. you'll get over it.

    Tina; welcome to drifting! We need a linen fairy to magically refill the linen closet when things begin to get tatty.

  11. They were hope chests here. Perhaps the influence of my English mother? I never had one (and never married) but I would love a hope chest fairy to wave her wand over the old and the worn in this house. Including me.

  12. Oh yeah! I still have one of my mother's copper-bottomed pots from the 1970's. Also some Tupperware from the 70's. It doesn't look very pretty after 40 years, trust me.

  13. EC; I think we'd all love a linen fairy, and a vacuuming fairy too.

    Happy Elf Mom; I have some 70s Tupperware too! Not as pretty as the new stuff that's out now, but still serviceable.

  14. First time I heard of the hope chest. But I've got lots of stuff from my mum which I brought to Melbourne with me including icing pipes. But I do like old pans and baking tins, stuff somehow gets cooked or baked better.