Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Family Trunks - Trunk #3 - Part 2

As stated in my last post, when I got the two "treasure chests" or "time capsules" down from the upper loft in my mother's garage, I saw another larger "old steamer" trunk in the back. I tried a couple times with help to get it down but was unable to find enough muscled men to complete the task for me.

I have been busy going through my mother's documents, letters, notes, journals & other papers. I found these notes about this mysterious trunk. 

My mother & I loved Reminense magazine. She responded to a question asked in the Jul/Aug 2001 issue. A reader asked if anyone knew what a certain wooden item was that looked like an anchor, which she found in a vacant house. My mother wrote a personal letter explaining what the piece was. She wrote, "This item is a clothes hanger from a wardrobe trunk. To be more specific: the trunk was about 4 feet high & about 2 feet square & opened up from the front into two equal sides." 

As seen above, she drew out what the interior of the trunk looked like with the interior types of hangers & drawers. Drawing the anchor-shaped form hanger she explained how it was used to keep dresses and suits from getting wrinkled during transit. "This particular hanger was for long formal evening dresses with the hanger held upside down, the dress was hung on the curved part of the hanger then flipped over to fold the long skirt over the horizontal piece then hung on the telescoped bars that have been pulled forward on the left side of the trunk."

"The hangers for day dresses had a very short vertical piece. My older sister, Irene, attended college in the early 1930s when the very strong and sturdy trunk was purchased for her for $30. Eventually, it became mine [my mother]. Because I was a Navy nurse during World War II & later married a Naval officer, this wardrobe trunk has been all over the world & now occupies a place in the loft of our garage. This style trunk today is worth about $300-$400 to collectors.” [as of 2001] What would be its value now in 2020?

After my mother's death, her estate sale & taking the items I wanted to keep; I made arrangements for the remaining items to be donated to a local charity to be sold. Unfortunately, I was not present when the house was cleaned out. This breaks my heart as I will never find out what could have been in that larger trunk.

I found these photos of other old steamer trunks via Pinterest. These best show mother's descriptions of her trunk.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Family Trunks - Trunk #1 & Trunk #2 - Part 1

My parents have five trunks. Four were military trunks.
Three have been stored in the garage. I have used two to store my personal belongings in them.

I had a curiosity as to what was inside the ones I could not easily obtain as they were high out of reach. 

Two trunks hide the larger old steamer trunk behind them.
One day, my brother helped get the two smaller ones down for me and the adventure began. 

Here is the story of what I found in two of them. 


What is under the sheet?
Opening this one brought my brother and me back in time. Mom had made this a "Time Capsule" box for us in some sort of way. The items were covered by an old sheet. We found dress-up costumes from our history.  I found some photo memories for a few of the items.

1. Hula outfit sent by my father to me from overseas while living in San Leandro, California, during 1961. There was also a larger Hula skirt for mom to wear. 

I found a picture of me modelling my father's gift.

2. Fairy Halloween outfit Mary wore 31 October 1964 in Negishi Heights, Yokohama, Japan.

3. Roman "leather"
skirt & "plastic" sword which my brother wore in a Latin class banquet day at “YoHi” Nile C. Kinnick High School in Yokohama, Japan on 30 April 1965.

Love the helmet!


4. Ken and Barbie masks my parents wore on 19 Sept 1964 at the Yokosuka Officer's Club for a co-worker farewell party on the USS Oklahoma City.

5. I was a member of Girl Scout Troup 205 in 1966 in Virginia Beach, VA.

Other items in the trunk included:

6. a Japanese wig
7. two Japanese robes
8. a pair of Japanese "tabi" slippers
9. a box of Japanese “Jewelry”
10. a white summer dress
11. green fabric
12. a purple tablecloth
13. a white embroidered Filipino apron
14. a plastic bag with yellow fabric

Some of these items were kept for history & others were sold in our estate sale.


This trunk belonged to my mother when she belonged to the United States Naval Nurse Corp from 1944-1949. To my surprise, when I opened it; it contained items that belonged to my father who was a career Naval officer from 1949 to 1967. 

The items in this box helped me to get to know my father as an adult and what his Naval career job involved as he took us around the world. I found documents, articles, letters, photos, uniform attachments, cap, gloves, medals and matching pins.

It also included baby shoes, childhood items, school memorabilia, and so much more.

My father was killed when I was a pre-teen and I have few memories of when we were together as a family.

I put together a photo scrapbook of my father's Naval career after looking through everything in this trunk. It took 6 months to research and organize photos for telling his story. I got to get to know my father as an adult. What an endearing and fantastic project for me!

To my surprise, I saw a larger trunk farther in the back behind the original two trunks. Now to get that one down to find out the mystery of its contents.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Generations of Family Art - Part 3

Fabric Waxing 1969 Mary Cooper

My brother & I attempted our adventures with drawing in our teen years with school art classes.

I found some pictures & my brother sent me a few of his drawings he had in his possession. 

Gib modelling art on his clothing 1964
Ink drawing by Gib Cooper

Ink drawing by Gib Cooper

Ink drawing by Gib Cooper

Ink drawing by Gib Cooper 1969

Pencil drawing by Gib Cooper

My mother wrote in her calendar pages, that I took some advanced recommended art classes during the summer of 1967. I was so surprised by this oil painting I had forgotten about.

Winter Fun Oil Painting Mary Cooper Summer 1967
at a local art show Spring 1968
This painting was even seen in the local newspaper with my mother's comments on the clip out. I found the clipping first & found the painting later after digging in some labelled boxes.

I continued with art classes in Junior High in California.

Chalk drawing Mary Cooper 1969

Pencil drawing Mary Cooper 1969

Oil painting Mary Cooper 1969