Around 1936, when Jan was a little girl, a little play kitchen cupboard was made for her by her Uncle Eddie.
Jan grew up, got married and had sons. As far as the remaining family can remember, the little cupboard stayed with Jan’s parents, even moving with them when a quieter home was built outside the city. It remained with them until such time that their last move was made. When the little cupboard needed a new home, it was given to a family member to store; so it traveled again, to a different house.
Jan’s oldest son grew up, and married me. When our first child was little, I asked all of his grandparents and great grandparents to fill out a grandparent book of questions. One of the questions in the book was “What were your favorite games and toys?” Her answer is below:
“I guess I always took a doll to bed with me and I can remember enjoying paper dolls. My Uncle Eddie Kressel had made a little wooden cupboard and of course I had little dishes in it.”
At that time, we thought it was nice that she had a toy cupboard made by her uncle. We didn’t realize then that the little cupboard’s story wouldn’t end there.
About three years ago, the relatives that had been storing the little cupboard were sorting through their things. The cupboard was noticed and it was determined it needed a new home. It was remembered that the little cupboard had belonged to Jan, so a group text and picture were sent asking if any of our family wanted it. Others declined for different reasons. I replied that we would gladly take it. The little, but heavy, cupboard was eventually passed from one cousin to another and then made a big journey across three states to our house. The cupboard required some attention from years of both being used and not being used. Once here, the little cupboard, with all its charm, made its way onto our long project list.
Our little granddaughter recently reached the age of three, and we felt she was big enough to be introduced to her great-grandmother’s little cupboard; so the cupboard found its way to the top of our project list.
The little cupboard had a big makeover. It was washed, sanded and painted. There was a piece of glass missing on an upper cabinet door. Mr Legs found the piece of plexiglass he remembered we had and cut a piece to fit, then placed it perfectly in the empty space. He scraped paint off the other pieces of glass and cleaned and shined the cabinet knobs. The cabinet was also updated with under cabinet lighting. Full of original character, the old little cupboard was now like new.
We dug out the box of little play dishes and play food that we had kept from the years when our children were little. The dishes were arranged in the cupboard’s upper cabinets and the play food was put in baskets that fit nicely in the lower cabinets.
And then the day came when our granddaughter arrived for a visit. We had placed the little cupboard in the living room in anticipation. She walked in the front door, and her eyes grew big when they saw the little cupboard sitting there waiting for her. She went straight to it and began to explore.
Our little granddaughter used her big imagination while she played with the little cupboard for hours. She served the rest of us many meals, being careful not to leave anyone out.
Reviving the little cupboard for Jan’s great granddaughter felt like a big event. Little outfits were ordered for the occasion and pictures were taken of our little chef and her littler brother.
Spanning 86 years and four generations, the little cupboard that Jan’s Uncle Eddie made for her is a symbol of love and a piece of our family’s history. I believe that Jan, who passed away two years ago, would have smiled to know that her great granddaughter is playing with her little cupboard. It will also be ready for the rest of her great grandchildren to play with when they come to visit. With its multiple moves through many years, and the different people and places it has seen, Jan’s little cupboard has lived a big life.