You Can’t Put a Price on That

By Carol Hartsoe

As I entered my dusty attic I was determined to clean, sort and de-clutter. I removed many boxes of outgrown clothes and made a pile to take to our local thrift store. I went through plastic tubs of holiday treasures and old toys and actually reduced them by at least half. I was extremely proud of myself and was glad to know that these items would help someone in need, or just simply be enjoyed by others.

And then, I came across a box of items that had once belonged to my mom and grandmother. My progress slowed as I took them out of the box one by one, and just sat remembering.

Then I started wondering. I wondered if my children would know what those items were and if they would keep them as I had done. Some of those items would be considered vintage, and quite valuable. All of these things would someday belong to my children and grandchildren. I hoped that they would not view them as non-important. Knowing their penchant for having yard sales I began to have serious concerns. Then an idea began to bloom.

I went downstairs to get my camera and took pictures of each item. I planned to put these pictures in an album and write details about each one. The girls would know where we got them and learn about the people we got them from. I found myself snapping pictures all over the house. I realized we possessed a number of valuable antiques that had been passed down to us. A great-grandfather’s rocking chair, my grandmother’s victrola and an oak washstand were among the many things I photographed that day.

My photo album turned out great. I also included little stories about my parents and grandparents so that future generations would get a glimpse into the lives of relatives never met, providing of course, that my children took care of this album and passed it along.

One morning as I was doing laundry I suddenly realized I had missed something important: An ordinary item, but equally valuable in terms of family keepsakes; my laundry basket.

Laugh if you will, but yes, a picture of my harvest gold, plastic laundry basket has a special place in the album. Included is this letter to my children:

Dear Girls,

This laundry basket is one of the first things your dad and I purchased as a married couple over forty-four years ago.

As you know, we got married as soon as your dad finished his basic training with the Air Force. We traveled over 2000 miles away to his first duty station and began shopping for things we would need for our first home. We didn’t have enough money for everything but did get the most basic items.

You may wonder why a laundry basket is important enough to be included in this album and why it is one of my favorite things: First of all it reminds me of my younger years as a newlywed. Even doing laundry with your dad was exciting back then.

I won’t lie… laundry is no longer exciting. Although washing clothes has become rather routine and ordinary over the years, I have decided that this is no ordinary laundry basket. Not only has it been sturdy enough to last through forty-four years of laundry, it has been useful for many other things.

This basket has been flipped over to serve as a step stool for me, and was a great way to transport gallons of sweet tea to church and family events. It was there for you girls as a car, train or airplane. You were great at pretending!

It has been a table for you to write or color on, and for tea parties as well. It was a swing (when our backs were young) and a cart to pull you around in. (There are pictures somewhere.)

Do you remember that this basket was once a sail boat, pirate ship, race car and a cage for your “zoo” of stuffed animals? Sometimes it was a place for you to sit and look at storybooks and occasionally, a napping place. Puppies and turtles often found themselves trapped inside with a little help from you two.

Little did we know when we bought this laundry basket that we would share it with two precious girls of our own, and two equally precious granddaughters. They used it too. (There are pictures somewhere.) Perhaps one day their children will find the same uses for this old relic of ours. I don’t doubt that they will find new uses as well.

Well girls, I suppose you now see the importance of keeping this old laundry basket instead of including it in your weekend yard sales. Sometimes it may appear empty, but don’t be deceived…there’s a lot of history in there, and maybe a lot of future too.

You can’t put a price on that.

P.S. Take pictures.

Love, Mom

About this writer

  • Carol Hartsoe

    Carol Hartsoe

    Carol Hartsoe writes from her home along the coast of North Carolina and herpart-time residence in Little River, South Carolina. A retired TeachingAssistant, she enjoys working with, and writing for children. Her nonfictionworks have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and anthologies.

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11 Responses to “You Can’t Put a Price on That”

  1. Erika Hoffman says:

    Wonderful story and practical idea! I’m getting out my camera now!

    • Carol Emmons Hartsoe says:

      Thank you, Erika. I warn you though, once you start snapping those pictures it’s hard to find a stopping point! Have fun with it!

  2. Linda O'Connell says:

    Carol, what a wonderful nostalgic piece. I so enjoyed the story and now will incorporate your idea. Harvest Gold…how I remember that home decorating color scheme.

    • Carol Emmons Hartsoe says:

      Thanks Linda! I used my harvest gold hand mixer for over thirty years. And I had pots and pans in the green color. I think I appreciate them more now than I did back then.

  3. Cora Boyer says:

    Well written mom! I remember the basket adventures! I will cherish those memories and keep the laundry basket tradition going! Love you!

    • Carol Emmons Hartsoe says:

      Thanks honey…reading your comment brought on a few happy tears. We will cherish those sweet memories together. Love you!

  4. Anna Riley says:

    Thanks for sharing, Carol! Taking pictures of items and writing their details is an awesome idea. Even the laundry basket!! Amazing you still have it and so cute about the kids using it for their stuffed toys. Agree, it’s priceless with all its history!

    • Carol Emmons Hartsoe says:

      Thanks for your comments, Anna. It is amazing that the basket has lasted all of these years. I also still use the same silverware that I received when the ladies of my church gave me a wedding shower. I’d better take a photo of that too!

      • Anna Riley says:

        You’re welcome! Yes, take a picture of the silverware :) My favorite old item (and I know there is a picture on one of my social media accounts), is my Betty Crocker cookbook, a gift from the 1980s. I use for my piecrust and apple pie every holiday season. Yum! ….. Keep on taking pics! :)

  5. Pat Wahler says:

    Such a sweet story! It reminded me of a few of my efforts at cleaning out the basement or closet.

  6. So many things in life we cannot put a price on. I wonder of today’s laundry baskets will last as long as yours.

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