Friday, April 6, 2018

A to Z April Challenge: F is for Flue Cover


When my sister and I cleaned out our parents’ home, we had to make many decisions about what to do with all the stuff. Which things are truly “valuable” and which have only sentiment in their favor? Should we sell it, keep it, or throw it away? To help ensure a future for our family’s heirlooms, I plan to leave a booklet for my daughters telling the stories of what they will inherit one day. (Not TOO soon, I hope!) With this challenge I begin my book of Heirlooms.


is for flue cover plate.

A what? Flue covers were used to hide an unsightly and drafty hole in the wall once a stovepipe was removed either permanently or seasonally. Sometimes in spring and summer homeowners took down the stovepipe that had provided heat to the home during the winter.

Flue cover from Davis store https://jollettetc.blogspot.com 




This tin flue cover is all that remains of
the Davis Store, once a vibrant little enterprise built by my great-grandfather Walter Davis and operated by his sons Millard and Orvin, my maternal grandfather. For over 20 years, the store served the community of Shenandoah, Virginia.

Davis Store Shenandoah, VA 1920s https://jollettetc.blogspot.com 











Even after the store closed in the 1940s, the apartment continued to house renters until recent years. Eventually asbestos made the building unsafe; termite damage made it not even worth flipping. Besides, the corner lot was too valuable for other uses. 



My grandmother behind the counter - she ran the store.
There is the stovepipe where the flue cover would have gone.

On April 16, 2015, the building was bulldozed.
 
Davis Store demolition April 2016 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Photo courtesy of Jan Hensley

That I have any souvenir at all is by sheer luck. I was chatting with my cousin who casually informed me that the old store building was being torn down that day. She said it with all the enthusiasm accompanying a report of the day’s trip to the grocery store. For me, it was big news that demanded she get over there right away and take a picture at least. However, my cousin had no love for the store building; she actually lived in the apartment as a child, and the memories of a cold building with poor heat and no hot water have not left her.

I seldom post on Facebook, but I did that day – a mini tribute to the old store on its passing. Jan Hensley, a dedicated researcher of families in the Shenandoah Valley and one with whom I have collaborated, saw my post and scurried over to the corner of Sixth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue to snap a picture. She even spoke to one of the workers and asked if there were anything worth snatching from the rubble. He thought a minute and soon brought out the flue cover.

This winter scene is a common one. One exactly like it sold on eBay for $13. Similar ones range from $10-$35. The fancier ones made of glass go for $40-$80. This illustrates the paradox of many heirlooms: they are worthless and priceless at the same time.

Wendy
© 2018, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

26 comments:

  1. The power of facebook saves the day! It is great you have a photo of your grandmother in the store too. I've never seen one painted like that before, it's so lovely!

    My Genealogy Challenges

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    1. Facebook has been a great addition to blogging for getting genealogy info. (and flue covers!)

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  2. It isn't the object itself but the memories that one can associate. Your documentation will help your family understand why you have kept it.
    Regards
    Anne
    https://ayfamilyhistory.com/2018/04/06/f-is-for-francis/

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    1. I agree - a THING with no story is just a thing.

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  3. A great story makes your heirlook even more interesting.

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    1. Yes, the flue cover is just cheap tin, kind of like a pie plate. It's hardly the thing you'd search for in a junk store but knowing its history makes it worth dusting every now and then.

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  4. A flue cover as an heirloom must be almost unique. Magnificent old photo of your grandmother in that store complete with the stove.

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  5. What a great thing to have and the family photos to go with it.

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    1. Without the photo and history, the flue cover wouldn't make much sense to anyone.

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  6. Yay for your genealogy partner. We had a flue cover for the hole in the chimney where, I guess a wood burning stove must have been hooked up. I left it when we moved and cannot even remember what picture was on it. I will have to go check photos later.
    http://findingeliza.com/

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    1. I hope a picture finds its way onto your blog one day.

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  7. What an awesome treasure you have there! And a picture of your grandmother behind the counter of the store - even better. You're right, on ebay these things bring a pittance in cash - yet they are priceless. I'm so happy your kind friend was able to retrieve this treasured memento for you!

    Trisha Faye
    www.vintagedazecolumn.wordpress.com

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    1. OOH loving the sound of your blog. Thanks for stopping by.

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  8. I remember those covers! But I don't remember anyone ever removing a chimney, I think those types of stoves had been replace. I'm enjoying all of your A to Z posts!

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    1. I remember seeing such covers in older homes, but we didn't heat with a stove so there were none in the homes I grew up in.

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  9. What a fascinating piece and story! Thank you so much for sharing it, I love the photo from inside the store. I could study it for ages.

    @IsaLeeWolf
    A Bit to Read

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    1. I have that photo enlarged and in a frame on the wall. I study it too to see what all they sold.

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  10. What a wonderful story. I enjoyed reading it. I had no idea what a flue cover is! Thank you for sharing :)

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    1. I wasn't sure what it was called either. Stove pipe cover is another term for it.

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  11. Amazing that Jan ran right over there to get a photo (and a THING) for you!

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    1. I know! I thought she must live in Shenandoah, but she actually lives about 15 minutes away. I know that's not far, but still . . . .

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  12. I learned something old today. I hadn't seen a painted flue cover before. How wonderful that a Facebook friend came to the rescue and that you have the photo to go with it.

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    1. I thought my grandaunt had painted it until I saw one like it on eBay. Now that I've studied it, I do believe the design is like a big sticker or something.

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  13. Yay...you had a friend who flew in for the flue. Nice that you have the pictures...especially with your grandmother behind the counter.
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

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    1. The store picture with Grandma at work is a favorite, for sure.

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