About Me

Growing up in a small New England town with a mother who was an antiquarian it was inevitable that I would be exposed to old things. After graduating from UMass/Amherst I lived in Connecticut, taught school, married, and raised three children in suburbia. A move to Newburyport MA renewed my interest in all things old. This background has now evolved into research, writing, consulting and all the things I love to do.

Prudence Fish

Friday, February 21, 2014



Have you ever thought back to things you admired as a child and what a favorable and long-lasting  impression they made on you?  In retrospect do you say to yourself, “How could I…?

Way back during the 1940s my best friend at the time, Susan, and I decided to create a playhouse in the second floor of their garage.  We had set it up nicely when her mother decided she had her own plans for the space and asked us to move.  

After getting permission to use a single car garage at my house we planned a moving day.  This meant lining up the boys in the neighborhood with their wagons (we called them carts back then) to load up our stuff and transport it some distance up the street from her house to my house.

Here we really settled in.  A pair of army cots made twin beds.  An oak Victorian commode fit nicely between the beds.  A mounted deer head from the attic hung above the commode over a window.  My wooden table- top Bendix radio sat on top of the commode.   A huge spool made a round table encircled by four orange crate chairs.  We painted them white and I think there were yellow daisies on the top.

It got better.  A porcelain sink was propped up with a hole in the wall for a drain pipe.  (No running water.)  An old doorbell was hooked up by one of the neighborhood boys.  It ran on a dry cell battery and was rung by pressing a piece of tin from a can against a screw head.  The piece de resistance was a galvanized cooler from Susan.  It was probably the first cooler anyone had ever seen.  Since this was still the era of the iceman, we got chunks of ice delivered for our cooler/refrigerator as the ice truck passed through the neighborhood.

When there was a rummage sale on the town Common we were there with our pennies.  I bought a tiny bowl and pitcher to take back to the playhouse. The pieces had panels of flowers interspersed with scenes of lovers in beautiful outfits. I loved this little set.  Was it a tiny wash bowl and pitcher or was it an individual creamer and sugar?  I still don’t know.
Tiny bowl and pitcher from a rummage sale in the 1940s

We also made and sold dolls’ hats to raise money.  We then went to an auction and bought a box of dishes.  This included a small set of blue and white Delft style dishes with windmills made in Japan.  I also remember an old glass cruet in the box.

During the summer I traveled around with my mother and her friends to antique shops.  That is how I found a plate to match the bowl and pitcher.  The antiques dealer told me it was Dresden.  At that point I knew I just loved Dresden. (Meissen)

Plate from New Hampshire antiques shop in the 1940s also

Recently, I attended an auction.  At the pre-sale viewing I noticed a pair of similar Meissen  shallow bowls but passed right by them.  Late in the auction they came up for bid.  When there wasn’t any response from the audience there was a little coaxing from the auctioneer. Suddenly, up shot my hand!  “I love those bowls,” I thought,  My companions just looked at them with indifference.  “Doesn’t everyone like these?” I thought.  Of course not!  Meissen is very elegant. It’s not something that is wildly popular these day, at least not in my circles..

Nevertheless, I was the only bidder.  I won and brought the two shallow bowls home.  Next I dug out my three pieces from long ago to admire my little collection.
Auction, November, 2013
Companion piece, auction 2013
In reality it is hard for me to be objective about them because I don’t want to let go of the memory of thinking they were so beautiful. Nor do I want to admit that they are not something that I would covet today.  Or maybe I just don’t want to admit that I had a ten year old's taste when I was ten years old!

For better or worse, the new pieces have joined the old pieces and will all be together in my cupboard.  If having 5 pieces makes it a collection, then, I have a new collection.  Maybe it’s being stubborn and not wanting to give up on something...a fond memory.  Or maybe it’s defensive loyalty to old choices.  Whatever the case may be or whatever the explanation,  impressions formed in childhood die hard!

The same goes for houses.  There were houses that impressed me when I was young.  One such house was the local historical society house in my hometown.  It was a brick Federal.  When revisited with a friend a few years ago she looked into the parlor and said, "Now I know where your taste comes from!"   And in retrospect she was right.  It never had occurred to me that the "look" I love was etched into my subconscious brain way back then.

Narragansett Historical Society
I think it also depends on how old you are, too.  For example, I don't like bathtubs on legs or black iron kitchen stoves or matchboard wainsccoting.   People who are younger than I am think they're cool.

No matter how old we are, childhood memories and experiences are the foundation for what we admire years later because early impressions are lasting and really do die hard.



  1. Your comments are so true! It is just such behavior on my part that has brought me to a collection of Boston and Sandwich Glass Company pressed glass cup plates. I keep them in a specially made cabinet that hangs on my dinning room wall. When the cabinet is lit they remind me of the first time I saw them as a child while reading a book on early American pressed glass and thought they looked like glass snowflakes.. When my friends ask what they are I go on at great detail explaining Deming Jarvis', wood fired glass furnaces, brass molds, straw marks in glass, cups without handles and pretty soon my friends eyes glaze over and I know they just do not see what I see. Yes, as you say, "early impressions are lasting and really do die hard!"

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  3. Thank you for reading and for your comments from so far away! I'm impressed. I will keep on posting and I hope you will keep on reading.

  4. Childhood anxiety It's really appreciable message for everybody thanks for sharing this information.