My mother came from central New York State dairy farming folk and when I was a child, we occasionally visited her cousins who still farmed near West Winfield. I always envied their children, but I note, none of them farm any more. It's a hard, economically uncertain way of life. Still, the youngsters caring for these cattle were slim, fit, tanned, friendly, happier- and healthier-looking specimens than the average teen one sees these days.
On the way home from the fair, I stopped briefly at a garage sale which had been well picked over. I spied this box and opened it...
How much? I asked.
There was a long pause. Will you use them, the owner asked, I mean really use them?
Sure, I said.
Then she explained. These had been part of her wedding trousseau, carefully assembled by her grandmother many years ago. And the owner had never used them.
They always seemed too good to use, she said, so I never did.
So if I promised to use them, she said I could have them for a dollar.
I brought them home and got out my copy of Antiques at Home to see what author Barbara Milo Ohrbach had to say about...
cleaning vintage linen. Gently, is her basic advice. So I am off to buy some Ivory detergent.
If I can make these pillow cases look clean and white again, then they will go on the guest room bed. If they don't come out so well, I will use them myself. After all, I did promise to use them.
Thank you, unknown Buffalo, NY, grandmother. It took a few decades, but your carefully chosen wedding linens are finally going to make it out of their box.