2.28.2012

Tacie...

vintage
My friend Jenny of Frecklewonder fame wrote the sweetest post about an estate sale and a woman named Zane. Jenny's story reminded me so much of an experience that PRH and I once had that I felt inspired to share it with you. PRH and I used to live in Amherst, Massachusetts and I used to work at The Eric Carle Museum. One Sunday evening, PRH picked me up from work and, as we were headed home, we saw a house that appeared to have all of the contents piled in the lawn. Smack dab in the middle of the pile was an enormous, handwritten 'FREE' sign. Curious, we pulled off to the side of the road and walked up the driveway. Upon closer inspection, all of the contents of the house were indeed on the lawn! Vintage magazines, clothing, art supplies from the 1940's, black & white photographs- the lawn was covered. PRH and I started looking through the piles tentatively at first, but then a gentleman approached us and said that anything left behind would be thrown away. To artists, this kind of situation is sort of like finding gold. PRH was working on his masters thesis at the time and was thrilled to sort through collections of ephemera and vintage art supplies. I was drawn towards a mound of day dresses from the 1930's and 1940's. It was never made clear why someone had tossed everything in the lawn, but we couldn't bear to see everything just thrown away.

We loaded the car with as much as we could and left feeling sort of melancholy about the whole situation. It wasn't until we got home that PRH showed me the letters he had rescued, all postmarked from the 1930's, all written by a woman named Tacie. The letters chronicled the minutiae of Tacie's daily life as a student at Mount Holyoke College in the early 1930's- who she ate dinner with, what events she attended, the weather, what her professors looked like, what she wore to class, etc. One of my favorites was about a tornado that had swept through the college and done considerable damage to the buildings and property. Tacie had written to her parents and friends every single day for four years!

It took me about a week to read through everything. By the time I finished, I had fallen in love with Tacie's story and knew that we needed to share her letters. We donated them all to the Rare Books Collection at Mount Holyoke College, and I spent several afternoons there, learning more about Tacie's incredible life. Knowing that her story would live on made it easier to say goodbye to the letters. I kept her dresses.

13 comments:

frecklewonder said...

oh my gosh i have goosebumps.

no kidding, shoulder to toe goosebumps.

what an incredible story, abbey!!!!! i love so much that you rescued her things and donated them!!!!! i bet she never thought that would happen during the years she wrote those letters every day.

;)

Rachael, Pistachio Press said...

I remember you telling me about this! I love that you donated the letters. I probably would have hoarded them, but this is a much better home.

Jen @ RamblingRenovators said...

What a beautiful story. How lucky that you happened up on the house on that day. You were meant to rescue those letters!

This is Unclear said...

As a history grad student-crafter-archivist, this post makes me so happy (and a teensy bit jealous!)

Poppy K said...

So very cool! Is Tacie still alive? Were you able to contact any of her family? I'm guessing not since you donated the letters to the college. I'd love to hear more and also to see some of the dresses. Maybe you could do a Tacie Tuesday feature.

You might be interested in a play that a freind of mine wrote and produced about a bunch of scrapbooks that he found in a junke store - it's called Another Lousy Day by David Kodeski.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1569527

abby said...

I just read her story about Zane and then I saw this one! I'm an estate saler myself and I love the stories behind their lives. It's refreshing to see other people that value and honor the person through their things. Thanks for sharing your story about Tacie.

arajane said...

what a lovely story! i'm a mount holyoke alum myself, so i'm especially thrilled that you rescued and gave her letters to the college. next time i'm out there visiting i would love to go read them. thank you!

chris said...

Thank you for sharing such an amazing story. Stumbling upon a pile like that sounds like the stuff of dreams! I can imagine that finding her physical items along with her words really brought her to life.

Reminds me of one of my own finds. I attend a lot of estate sales, and one in particular really stood out to me. It was a man in his late 50s that had passed. This man had amazing style that was evident all over his home. He never married or had children, but a close female friend of his was helping at the estate sale. She seemed to be having a bit of a tough time seeing how people were treating his stuff. Many of the people at the sale were being quite rude. I ended up speaking to her for a while, and she told me a bit about his life and what an incredible guy he was. I could see how much she loved him, and it reminded me of the relationship I have with a male friend. After I got home, I was looking through the items I had purchased - decor and clothing of his. Buried in a bag was an old coin purse with a handful of slides - all pictures of this man in his late 20s with his friends. He had the warmest smile. One of the pictures was of him and a few friends at his dining table - including the woman I had met. It's one of my most cherished finds.

inredningsvis.se said...

I really like your blog:) Great pics and so much inspiration..I wish you a lovely week.

LOVE Maria at inredningsvis.se
(Sweden)

heather said...

What an incredible story. I would be in heaven if I came across a pile like that. Now I know dreams can come true.

Gracie Chase said...

What a wonderful story--makes me realize why I love you two!

cristin said...

Ah, the art of letter writing is dying...so glad you could save these!

Holly said...

smiling. thanks for sharing the story. beautiful.

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