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.
This tin flue cover is all that remains of
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.
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.
© 2018, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.