Long ago, when my younger sister Henrietta and I were in grammar school, our parents used to take us to visit our more obscure aunts, uncles and cousins in northeastern Pennsylvania whenever we were on vacation. I especially enjoyed visiting my mother’s Aunt Mabel and Uncle Clem because theirs was such an offbeat house with all sorts of eccentric knick knacks and curios scattered throughout its fourteen huge rooms. Like many long-married childless old couples, they were quite the colorful interesting characters. Uncle Clem claimed to have been a doughboy in World War I and to have fought the Kaiser under Black Jack Pershing. Every time we visited them he and Aunt Mabel would take my sister and me all throughout their house explaining the supposed origins of all the souvenirs. They included a little yellow bicycle, only four inches high but quite real, a shiny conch shell, and autographed pictures of silent movie stars like Francis X. Bushman and Mabel Normand. “Francis”, they’d always say (my name is Frederic), don’t you wish you and your sister Hildegarde could have been around back in the days of vaudeville?” I miss those days. Unfortunately we never got many chances to visit Aunt Mabel and Uncle Clem. They were always quite the veritable storehouse of quaint nostalgia, custodians of a long bygone era. Their reminiscences of the history and pop culture of the early twentieth century were mixed with a nice healthy dosage of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear.
I was inspired to write the preceding work of fiction by a picture online of a cupboard containing all sorts of really interesting looking old fashioned curios and souvenirs of a bygone era.