On a crisp autumn morning we walked into the Hospice Shop at Benmore. We walked past a scrum of – mainly women- fighting over heaps of clothing and linen on the pavement – they were having a jumble sale. Have to do that when the place gets clogged with what cannot and will not be sold! At the counter was a pile of gorgeous table linen crawling out of a black plastic bag. It was a bit rumpled but of lovely quality. I fell on it, sorted it and bought it all, to the amazement of the attendant.
Three lovely little finely crocheted doilies had a card still attached wishing Gill love and luck with her engagement in 1958; a beautifully embroidered tray cloth had a longer message of love and good wishes for the approaching marriage and then there was a little square embroidered ‘doilie’ with Gillian Austin Std V St Theresa’s Convent Johannesburg written on a card and attached to it. There were beautifully embroidered and lace edged tray cloths with pictures of gorgeous bright red richly done flowers of the erythrina and poinsettia as well as many others. As if that wasn’t enough there were three table settings complete with large central mat, 6 dinner plate mats, 6 bread plate mats and 6 coasters two in blue linen and one in beige embroidered and edged. I used to choke up a bit when I showed them to customers and told their story. The hours and artistry consumed in their production is such a thing of the past yet they are valued and many times I have been told about how nice those sort of things are but they make their own!! And then there is the reality that they were made by a woman in my home town who lived not far from where I grew up, went to a school where I had friends which no longer exists, it is all built over with business buildings … oh dear, waves of homesickness threaten to choke me at times.
Unfortunately I sold them all at the Gympie Arms and Militaria Fair at the weekend so can’t show you how lovely they were. I needed my customers to show their appreciation before I realised how truly fine they are. Now they are sold and I have to find more. I also sold several table cloths including two for ten-seater tables one crocheted and the other dacron made in the US. While I was doing all this selling of girly stuff some of the gun stall holders struggled to make their stand fee!! Makes one wonder!! . All sorts of thoughts are triggered by this event – finding the linen – why had it not been used? Why was it all given to a charity shop? Had the marriage taken place? Were there children who don’t use table linen? Were there no children? and so on… And then the people who bought it – some young women, some older, why do they want stuff that needs work to maintain even if it graces tables and tea trays… well there are probably masses of possible answers – I don’t have them.