My guess is that many of you have family antiques in your home that you enjoy. These would be antiques or heirlooms passed down from generation to generation. Some items you might even use, while others you just enjoy for the family memories they bring to you.
Keeping old family heirlooms is important to many of us in different ways. The sentimental value of having something that Great-Grandpa or Grandma used gives us some attachment to family no longer on earth. We may feel that we are a small part of their lives some 100 or 150 years ago.
Then there is the value in knowing a part of our ancestors' lives and how they lived. We may long for the so-called "good old days," but then a look at how Great-Grandma had to fix and serve her dinners might change our minds.
We are no different than many of you. We have a number of family heirlooms sitting around our home. Some tools are in my shop. While we may not make the best use of them, and Betty says they have to be dusted just like the rest of the furniture, we enjoy them.
One of our neat antiques is a large wooden bowl, about 16-by-30 inches in size and 8 inches deep. It was obviously hand-carved out of a solid block of poplar wood and has seen many years of use. My first recollections of this bowl are helping my mother by grinding pork into it to make sausage. She would cut the pork into pieces that would go into the special grinder, which we also have, and my job was to turn the crank.
After the pork was ground into the bowl, Mom would add various spices - and I don't remember her recipe - and make the sausage into patties. These were then packed tightly into quart jars, covered with grease and stored to use when needed.
We also have the wooden plunger that was used to push the meat into the grinder, which is on a board about 4 feet long so we could hold it down.
Now this bowl is used to hold the wooden plunger and some old books we keep and any other "treasures" we have.
By our fireplace we keep an old soapstone that has been in the family. Some of you remember soapstones and have used one. They are a heavy, dense stone that absorbs and hold heat. Before bedtime, they would be put in the oven to get them warm. Then they would be taken to the cold bedrooms we had and put in the bed to warm it up. Better than an electric blanket! They were also put on the floor of buggies to keep the feet warm when going out with the horse and buggy.
My great-grandfather John Parker came to Ohio from Vermont in 1839. He bought and cleared a farm in Portage County and was a dairy farmer. Back then milk was not shipped to market in the fluid form. Rather, it was made into cheese that would concentrate the milk and could be kept indefinitely.
We have the old hand cheese press he used along with a couple of storage hoops. Years ago, Dad had the storage racks where the cheese was aged, but he donated them to the Portage County Historical Society.
Back in the mid-1800s, Trumbull County and northeastern Ohio was one of the main cheese-making areas in the United States. Much of the cheese was made in homes like my grandfather's. Then came the small local cheese factories that dotted Trumbull County and other areas. Bloomfield, for example, had four cheese factories many years ago.
Thankfully, we have groups that save and preserve our antiques. For example, this morning at 8 a.m., the program at the Ag Breakfast at the gustavus Federated Church will be on antique farm equipment. Dave Cover from Fowler will have a short talk, then escort those interested up to the Agricultural Heritage Museum in Wayne, owned by the Ashtabula County Antique Engine Club. If you read this in time, come on up to breakfast then visit this interesting museum. No reservations needed.
Parker is an independent writer for the Tribune.