Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Project (Part I of ??)

Where to begin?  6 years ago, almost to the day, we moved from our odd suburban life to this little farm house in Wyoming:
It was a change in our life that started this blog and a change that kept us out West long past our original commitment to take care of grandma (and/or stay for three years).   When we moved out, James and I had a gentleman's agreement of sorts that he would telecommute for his job in the DC area for 3 years while we cared for grandma.  Unfortunately, grandma passed later that summer and as we had just settled in, we opted to stay for a while.  I had no job to go back to and (very oddly) was actually offered 2 jobs on the day of grandma's funeral.

When grandma passed away, her estate contained a kitchen filled with plates, two built in living room shelves filled with knick-knacks, upstairs rooms filled with the "kids' stuff" (aka my dad and his siblings) closets filled with beading equipment and stuff and a green house full of salt and pepper shakers and more.  However, to tell this story properly I must go back one more generation to these lovely people, John and Jennie Majdic, my great grandma and grandpa.

These two left behind quite the legacy, from a dairy/cattle operation, to a house of collections to wonderful sets of children, grand children, great grandchildren and the newest great-great grandchildren (we were able to get many of them together for a pig roast the other week!).

John and Jennie (Setina) Majdic moved to Hudson WY in about 1914 after living in Rock Springs where John was a coal miner.  As I recall the story goes, John and his friend Frank Antich walked from Rock Springs to Hudson (~120 miles) with only a knapsack and a bottle of whiskey between them.  They rented a little pink house on the corner in Hudson where my grandmother was born a few years later (she liked to point this house out to me everytime we drove by).  Over the course of the next few years they purchased a farm/ranch just outside Hudson and had grandma's 5 siblings.

The farm was a dairy operation, general cattle ranch and typical 1930's homestead struggling through the depression with everyone else.  While John worked on collecting tools and tractors and the tools to run a farm, Jennie (my great-grandmother) had a variety of collections including but not limited to: salt and pepper shakers, plates, stamps, sea shells and coins.  At some point, as the story was told to me, the boys were "tired of all the junk all over the house" and they bought her a small mobile home, gutted it and had it lined with shelves for her collection.  The girls (of my father's generation) were then invited over to place things on the shelves that they wanted and most everyone in the house has a memory of sitting in the house while great-grandma shared the history and origin of many of the objects.  They even featured her "office" as a full page in the local paper that I will have to share sometime, but here is just a sampling of the glass doored storage in the office, minus two full curio cabinets, one crab table (that resides at our house), one table full of seashells and at least 3-4 smaller shelf-type things.   Aside from these shelves there were closed cabinets below each shelf chocked full of goodies.

My great-grandmother passed away in 1973.  3 years later my grandmother took on the collection and moved the entire green house to her property.  She took care of the house and the collection inside for 31 years and when she passed away, James and I at least supervised it, mostly in the sense of living on the property and heading out to the building to store boxes of her things for her "kids" to go through as James and I tried to make the house our own.

Sadly and excitedly, after living on the property and in Fremont County for 3 years, James and I realized it wasn't working for us and headed north to Montana.  Through a sheer stroke of luck, as I was hemming and hawing about finding a renter for the property, I saw a posting that read something like "teacher looking for small acreage for horses outside of town, really handy, skilled electrician and willing to work."  So, as James and I worked on moving north, my family helped move the Pozun things into attic storage, into garage storage and into the greenhouse while we rented out the place to someone with no fear of it's quirks.

Over the next three years we each poked around in the greenhouse and storage but didn't make much progress.  It became clear last year that no one in the family was interested in living in the farmhouse and it was a very difficult property to caretake so we began discussing a purchase with the renters.  When the details were all worked out, the next big project to come about was "what to do with the salt and pepper shakers" and Majdic collections that I had avoided for now 6 years and my father's generation had avoided for 40 years.

Luckily, grandma and grandpa Majdic raised 5 great kids who raised this great group:
Who have made the process surprisingly easy.  While it's been a lot of dusty and dirty work, we have found homes within the family for many of the antiques and are working on finding homes outside the family for many of the dishes, plates and collectibles.  When I hear Dad or my aunts and uncles offer something to a visitor I smile because it reminds me of how grandma Jennie never let someone leave the property empty handed :-)

We have kept a fairly regular work schedule with lots of spreading out and sorting under the apple tree:
Followed by plenty of coffee and BSing and looking at old report cards :-)
While Catherine served as our official model of some of our finds:

And more to come soon . . . or at least later :-)  It's been an amazing few weeks with lots of thoughts to process and pictures to share with not enough time to reflect but plenty of time for fun with some amazing family.  

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