Saturday, December 17, 2011

8 Maids a Milkin

Here's a neat holiday story for you, one that I finally solved last night.

I have an old 'dresser' that belonged to my grandparents in Rosetown, and it came to live with us when they moved out to the acreage and we moved into their home when I was a little girl. It is so big and heavy that I'm surprised it stayed with us when we moved to St.Walburg, as we moved 5 times in the 4 years we lived there. But each time we moved, so did the dresser, and when Mike and I married my dad gave it to us. I decided to refinish the outside of it 12 years ago as it was gummy, and so I asked permission before I did it, as I knew it was old. I was almost done when I came across the date 1908 on the side of a drawer, and the name Gordon Fisher. I figured if the furniture was really that old then I just screwed it over big time. And left it at that.

Friday morning I was on the floor, cursing the sticky bottom drawer that holds my pants, and looked up. I had the topmost drawer out and could see inside the dresser a piece of paper stuck in the wood. I pulled carefully on it and it ripped right away at the corner. I noticed it was a stamp...that was priced at one cent. I got really excited and called for Mike to help me and he was able to pull it free. It was a postcard that was so old it was brittle, and a Christmas postcard at that. There was no date on the postage stamp but it did say Ridpath SK, and I'm sure the return stamp said Canwood. Some quick internet research dates the stamp between 1911 and 1928.

"Dear Evelen,
Just writing a few lines wishing you a Merry Xmas and a happy new year from your friend Marion Mc Bance (*not sure of the last name here)
Good By"

It was addressed to a Mrs Jacob Fisher, and when I saw that last name of course I remembered the name on the drawer, Gordon Fisher.
I did some calling and digging all day, and ended up on the phone with the 'historian' of the Fisher family Gail Milton in Eston, Sk. She told me that Evelen Fisher was 94, and in a home with severe dementia. That broke my heart as I was hoping to send it to her via a family member and bring a smile to her face this holiday season, and I also hoped she remembered the friend who dropped her the postcard as well!
I am sending the postcard to this cousin of the Fisher family, as she was tearful and grateful for the postcard to come into her possession. I suppose in some way I was still able to spread some Christmas joy after all.

So, bringing the story back around to this dresser of mine, this lady told me that the fellow my grandpa bought the dresser from, a Mr. Claire Thrasher, was the Fisher family's neighbor, which explains how he got the dresser. The year 1908 means something to her in that was the year her grandpa, who is Jacob Fisher's brother, began the homestead in Ridpath. Wow, I was amazed at what this postcard find had started.
And, being me, I had to go just one step further, and send some pictures of the dresser to an antique apraiser. Yes, I do indeed have a bit of a gem in my possession.
A "Bonnet Chest" is what he called it, dated in the early 1800's or earlier, most likely from eastern Canada. Gail told me when I offered this information that all of the Fisher family had escaped from Russia and settled in Ontario before moving to Saskatchewan.
The chest is missing the backboard, which I knew, and the nails are all square and hand made. The entire piece is made of walnut, with pine drawers constructed with hand cut dove tails, and tongue and groove on the back. And I refinished it in Cherry stain and put on new knobs. Oh, the heartbreak.

The history of it, and the puzzle as to where it came from, probably is more valuable the the chest itself, which is why I love it even more.
I will enjoy it for many more years to come. And I may even stop cursing the sticky bottom drawer...for a little while.

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