Chapter 8: Grandma Grace and Special Places
Grandma Grace Marie Witherton Rose was Grandpa James' mother. She had died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 104 just 5 weeks before Lil Mike was born. Lil Mike was named in loving memory of Grace.
Belle had loved Grace very much. She had watched her raise her family on Cherry Hill Farm with lots of love and a firm hand. Grace had grown up across the street from Cherry Hill Farm on the Witherton place. Like Lil Mike, Grace had been small, blue-eyed and blond. She smiled easily and laughed often. Grace believed in being kind and always being prepared for everything.
These were attributes that Belle admired. They were attributes that she herself had.
Grandma Grace had kept a stack of drawers in the pantry stocked full of gismos, and gadgets, fix-its and mend-its. It was such a family delight that the family had made up a song about it. The set of drawers still sat in the pantry and the song was still a family favorite.
There's a little bit of everything in Grandma's special drawers.
From sealing wax to flooring tacks and pencil, pens galore.
If you're ever need'n anything for problems you will meet,
Just check out Grandma's special stash and fix it fast and neat.
From sealing wax to flooring tacks and pencil, pens galore.
If you're ever need'n anything for problems you will meet, Just check out Grandma's special stash and fix it fast and neat.
Belle had her own special place for gismos, gadgets, fix-its and mend-its. She had 23 storerooms in and under her tree. (OK so she is a bit of a pack rat.)
After the earthquake Grace's drawers and Belle's stores had been called upon many times.
[For those of you who are interested the song has two parts. The first part is the verse that is sung. The second part is a list of objects found in the drawers. Each member of the family takes a turn trying to name as many things on the list as they can in 10 seconds before the verse is sung again. The list can be found at the end of the book. See how many things you can name.]
Belle came out of storeroom 23 with a list of things she would need to restock her supplies.
Grandma Lissa had made a list of supplies she needed too. She was about to head into town and Belle was hurrying to catch a ride. But the ride would have to wait. Grandpa James got a phone call from Miss Carlton across the road. Miss Carlton rented the old Witherton place from the family. It seemed that the ceiling in Miss Carlton's bedroom had just caved in all over her bed.
Grace's family came over from England in 1891. When they built the house they built it to last forever. People had laughed at some of the building methods and materials but, in all the years that house had stood it had never needed repairs. The last Witherton to own the house had been Grace's nephew. He was an artist and lived there alone his entire life. He willed the farm to the Rose family upon his death.
When James, Travis and Lil Mike got to the house Miss Carlton was cleaning plaster out of her underwear drawer. There was a hole right over her bed.
Grandpa James climbed up a ladder and looked around with a flashlight.
"Well for evermore," he exclaimed.
Up above Miss Carlton's bedroom was an attic. And, what an attic it was. It was full from wall to wall, floor to ceiling with boxes and trunks, old things, broken things, things covered and things dumped about.
Grandpa James saw a whole lot of work. Belle from the windowsill saw supplies, but Lil Mike saw a big adventure!
Two days later Grandpa James said it was safe to go exploring. He let Lil Mike be the first person up the ladder. (Pal and Belle had already been up collecting things several times.)
Lil Mike scampered like a little mouse among boxes of dishes, crates of china from England, trunks of old clothing, linen and quilts. She found old furniture, stacks of albums full of funny pictures, a velvet box of jewelry, and funny old appliances from long years past. Lil Mike explored it all, but she squealed with excitement when she found the many boxes and trunks full of old puzzles, books and TOYS,TOYS,TOYS!
Everywhere Lil Mike looked there were wonders. Doll cradles, stuffed animals, a beautiful porcelain doll and funny shawls. She found a tea set just the right size for a little girl and a big hat that was far too big but it had wonderful feathers. She decided to wear it while she served Pal tea and cookies (just pretend).
Belle recognized many of the objects they found. Some had belonged to Grace when she had been a young mother other things belonged to generations that had been before. The Withertons saved everything.
The grandpas hauled things off as the grandmas sorted and cataloged each find. Some things would go to the museum. Some things would go to an auction. Some things would go with Marie. And, truckloads of stuff would go to the dump.
Lil Mike was the first person to see everything, partly because she was small and quick and partly because she was so very curious.
Belle, also very curious, joined in the adventure and found several things just right for her home and her friends as well.
Lil Mike found comic books from the 1930s, which the boys added to their collection. She found a beautiful pearl necklace for her mother and she found a beautifully carved horse figurine for Nanna Jillian. There was a beautiful quilt for Grandma Lissa and vintage fabrics for Grandma Becca. Why, Lil Mike was a regular treasure hunter. She came every day all clean and combed but she left each evening dusty and tousled.
As the adults worked, Lil Mike scurried through narrow paths just big enough for mice, cats and little girls.
"Where is my Lil Mouse?" Grandpa James called when he hadn't heard her in awhile.
I'm here," she would call back climbing ever deeper into the mountain of boxes.
"Grandpa come see what I found. It's really heavy," Lil Mike called as she wiggled between two boxes to get help. What she had found was an old safe. While she was getting help Belle quickly opened the safe door. (With her keen sense of hearing and quick fingers Belle could open any safe.)
The three grandpas moved stuff away from the safe just as Belle hid in an old coffee can. Grandpa James opened the door and pulled out the contents.
The safe held many old documents, several old stamp albums and OLD COINS! Gold, silver and copper coins of many sizes and types. There were coins from many different countries as well.
The most spectacular coin, according to the boys, was a real gold doubloon from 1520. It was a lifetime collection. Travis, who had collected stamps since he was a kid, was very impressed.
The boys tried to fill Lil Mike's head with stories of pirate ships and sunken treasures. She listened wide-eyed for some time. But, soon the curious side of her took over and she went back to her exploring.
On the last day they were in the very back of the attic. Lil Mike pushed pass the last big trunks full of vintage clothing. There was one big object left to explore. It was draped with tarps and wrapped with rope.
She pulled at the ropes until they let go!
She pulled at the tarp until it gave way!
Lil Mike found herself looking at the greatest treasure of all. It stood six feet tall and was four feet wide it had windows and doors and a roof with a tower. It looked just like… "a Victorian house!"
There were hinges on one side of the house and a latch on the other so that it opened up. Inside were many little rooms full of tiny furniture. The kitchen had real dishes in tiny cupboards that really opened. There were lamps and tiny plants on the tables and upholstered furniture in the living room. The beds had real little blankets. At the top of the tower was a miniature nursery full of the tiniest toys you have ever seen.
It was Belle who found the hidden drawer in the base of the Victorian Doll house. She nearly got caught when Lil Mike heard the pop of the spring and stepped quickly around to see what had made the sound.
"Grandpa come see!" Lil Mike's voice was full of wonder; here in the drawer were even more special things.
The tiny toy people who lived in the house were stored in their own compartments. A father, a mother, four children and even a dog were waiting for hours of play. Underneath each doll were changes of clothing.
Never in the entire world had such a beautiful dollhouse ever been seen. The family knew that it could be sold for thousands of dollars, but the only place the Rose family was going to put this greatest of all treasures was high in their own attic where Lil Mike lived and played.
As the family prepared the dollhouse for the trip to its new home Travis found a little inscription on the chimney.
To my dearest Granddaughter on her birthday, GG Grace
Somehow it seemed as if Grace had reached out her hand of love to Lil Mike. They knew that GG Grace couldn't have been Grace Marie but somehow it didn't matter. The dollhouse was found in the Witherton Attic.
The family finished up the attic with a sweep and a dusting. Belle, carefully hidden in the dollhouse, was bumped and shaken as the family got the magnificent discovery to the truck.
Over the next few weeks the family enjoyed researching and valuing the stamps and coins they had found. The value turned out to be very good. It was enough in fact, to start a good size college savings plan for Lil Mike the Treasure Hunter.
So now you know how that amazing dollhouse came to Lil Mike and how Belle got a new tin bathtub and purple slippers.
Belle was very busy for the next several days taking the much-needed items to the animals still rebuilding their homes at Cherry Hill. A hot bath and warm slippers come in very handy at the end of that kind of day.
Airabella Quick of Cherry Hill Farm is © copyright 2008 by Kimberlyn Kammerer. All rights reserved.
May not be reprinted elsewhere without permission from the author/illustrator.