Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Questionable Family Heirlooms by Jeannie Watt

My husband and I met and married during college. We were both geology students and although we’d attended the same classes for a couple years, it wasn’t until he left and came back a year later as a grad student that we started dating. We were both on strict budgets, so for our second date, we went to his house for dinner. I hadn’t been there very long when he said to me, “Hey, want to see a great ass?”

Well, who doesn’t? However, this was only our second date and his roommate was at home. I was a bit shocked… and curious. Curiosity won and I said, “Okay…”

He stepped over to his bedroom door, opened it with a flourish and there, on the wall above his bed, was the great ass. Little did I know that this painting was going to become a permanent part of my life. When you marry the owner of a great ass, it becomes community property.

Like most asses, this one is not small. It’s three feet wide and four feet high. Despite its hefty size, the painting went where we went throughout our married life. It hung on the wall if we had room in an appropriate out-of-the-way place. I was not raised in a family where we displayed body parts on the wall—even tastefully rendered ones—but I love the painting. It represents my courtship with my husband and our more carefree years—you know, when you think you have all the time in the world to accomplish whatever you want? The painting makes me feel good.

When we moved to our current home many years ago, we didn’t have room for the painting upstairs in a place where  it wouldn’t give the UPS guy the wrong idea about us.  I finally hung it in the basement, next to my sewing machine and in front of the ski machine to inspire me while I skied. One day about a year ago, I went down to the basement to sew for the first time in months and noticed that the painting was gone!
I went upstairs and told my husband the artwork was missing. He handed me the phone and I called the only person who might know something about this (after all—no one robs a house and steals only an ass painting)—my twenty-three-year-old son, who was at college, two hundred miles away.
The conversation went like this--
            “Have you seen the ass?”
            “I have it hanging in my room here. I, uh, didn't think you'd miss it."
Not miss it? It's three feet by four feet and left a healthy bit of blank wall once it left the house.  I took a breath then as a deep truth hit home. It was time to pass the torch—er, ass. It belonged at college and it would now represent someone else’s more carefree days. I swallowed a lump in my throat. “All right. You can keep it--if you take a solemn vow to only use it for the forces of good, never evil.”
            “I promise.”
            He even sounded like he meant it. And somewhere out in this wide world is a woman. A woman who doesn’t yet know it, but who will someday have joint custody of a great ass painting. Because I can’t imagine my son marrying anyone who wouldn’t appreciate and treasure such a meaningful work of art.

I have to tell you, though, I’m still wondering how he got that mo-honker painting to school in the cab of a 1994 Mazda pickup.

Do any of you have interesting family treasures that you can’t get rid of because they remind you of a time, a place, a person? Something that other people may not understand but that you cherish? Or something your significant other cherishes and you just don’t get? Let me know about it and I’ll put you in the drawing for a download of the SuperRomance of you choice.

42 comments:

Snookie said...

Hey Jeannie, I kind of like that painting and I don't usually go for body part paintings! If I had a painting like that I wouldn't have hung it anywhere the casual visitor would see it either! We're not big on tradition in the sense of having a particular thing, but we (my husband, son and I) are all packrats. Makes for a very crowded house :).

Julie Hilton Steele said...

We have been through the estate dividing with both sides of our family. If I had to guess what would become the weird heirloom for my kids, I am guess it would be the peacock fireboard I inherited from my grandmother. When your kids are into Pottery Barn neutrals, a fireboard of teals, greens, and terracotta doesn't quite fit in. Even though it is gorgeous.

BUT If we still had the chicken foot tongs we were given as a wedding present, that would win hands down!

Thanks for a smile to start the day.

Peace, Julie

Ellen Hartman said...

Hi Jeannie,

I love the way you tell a story. The part where you discover the "theft" is priceless.

My husband and I have two questionable heirlooms. The first is our collection of Grateful Dead art. It's mostly framed concert posters, but there are a few framed tickets and a mint condition set of Jerry Garcia stamps from Tanzania. The posters are mainly in our dining room and I don't really think about them that often until someone new comes over and says, "Is that Jerry Garcia?" Well...yeah. It is. ;-)

Our second heirloom is a child's size 4 football spike (red, white, and blue), circa 1973. My husband's cousin played football for Penn State and roomed with John Cappalletti. John came for dinner at my husband's house and signed his tiny PeeWee football spike. (For anyone who doesn't worship at the altar of Joe Paterno: Cappalletti won the Heisman in 1973 and is most famous via the TV movie about his relationship with his brother, Something for Joey.)

The spike is also on display in our dining room. Again, I don't think about it much until someone says, "Is that a shoe?"

;-)

I like the Dead stuff. The shoe is something I live with because my husband treasures it as only a boy who grew up in NE Pennsylvania can treasure a Penn State football relic.

I can't imagine what my future daughters-in-law will make of either of these items when they pass down in the inheritance.

Jeannie Watt said...

Snookie--I'm a packrat, too! Love having stuff around. Sometimes I can't find the stuff I need becasue of the other stuff, but so it goes.

Yes, the painting usually gets hung in a place where it's not the first thing a visitor sees, lol.

Jeannie Watt said...

Hi Julie--It's too bad you can't post a photo of the fireboard. It sounds lovely. And chicken foot tongs? Those are the best. I would buy a set of those. I saw a chicken foot egg topper on ebay, but it too expensive to buy for whimsy. (Rats.)

Jeannie Watt said...

Ellen--A Grateful Dead collection is a marvelous thing to have! I'm so impressed. One of my boyfriend's roommate had a plastic rose displayed on the wall that he'd picked up off the ground at a Grateful Dead concert. Now that is questionable wall art--but framed concert posters? Wow.

As to the spike, that is absolutely cool. I'm certain your future daughter-in-laws will be the type of women that totally understand spikes on the wall.

liztalley said...

Hmmm...I come from a family who keeps everything. My mother swears every ugly old peice of pottery is a family treasure and "worth something" which has become a catch word between me and my husband.

I have a couple of things that will be handed down to me. One thing which is in the ballpark of the ass painting is a little Killroy was here statue that my grandfather brought back from WWII - it's of a pregnant woman. Ha, ha. My mother told me I "HAVE" to keep it. Now where am I going to put it?

Great topic and I love the painting. Who doesn't love a good ass painting?

Kristina Mathews said...

I love the painting. Especially since it means something to your family.

We have one painting in our art collection. We bought it at a charity auction. It is a picture of a Highway 50 sign with garbage, including a banana peel along the side of the road. We have it on the north wall of our living room, pointing east to the wall of family photos taken on our numerous road trips.

Jeannie Watt said...

"Who doesn't love a good ass painting?"
Well said, Liz. I have to admit that I've also kept stuff because it had to be "worth something". Let's see. The W.C. Fields lamp...nothing. The Mork doll in orginal box...barely more than I paid for it back in the 70s. The one thing I have that is worth something is one of the original Young Frankenstein movie posters--I worked at the theater when it first came out and asked for the poster. I gave it to my brother for his birthday. During one of his moves, he gave it to me for safe keeping. Silly boy. He'll never get it back now. It will fit perfectly into the spot where the great ass used to be.

Jeannie Watt said...

Kristina--You and I may among the few who know that Highway 50 is the loneliest highway in America. (For those of you not familiar with Nevada, Highway 50 has very long stretches between signs of habitation.) I love the way you've used the painting--makes me want to see the arrangement of road trip photos.

Ellen Hartman said...

Well, if we're talking about things that are "worth something," I have a complete set of Jeannie Watt Superrromances. Some signed. One dedicated to me (among other special Ellens).

I doubt my offspring would recognize these as items of value. Must go update the will.

Helen Brenna said...

I got nothin' Jeannie!

That so looks like a picture a college guy would hang over his bed! I'm surprised he didn't make you sign a prenup over that!! lol

autumnmacarthur.com said...

Jeannie, that is one helluva an ass! I want to know how your husband got it in the first place?

I'm a little nervous about what questionable family heirlooms we may inherit. My mother-in-law lives alone in a huge house, filled with what I honestly believe to be everything she's ever owned in her adult life. Every single piece of it is precious to her and none of it is to be thrown away, from the 1960's sideboard radiogram to the 97 plastic garden ornaments (at last count, I think they must be breeding because there are more there every time we visit). Inheriting all that from a woman who threatens to haunt the family if her "stuff" isn't taken care of properly is a scary thought. Luckily, my husband has another brother!

JV said...

I must say that your blog cracked me up. I'm sure I have several similar items of little value other than emotional/conversational, but I can't think of any at the moment. This is a great one, though, and I'm glad your son appreciates it!

linda s said...

Love the picture. dh would have hung it in the kitchen for sure. Looking for weird but beloved... perhaps the best is a two foot tall pottery Shmoo on my kitchen shelf. Everyone loves it, of course, even if they have no idea what a shmoo is.

Linda Warren said...

Hilarious. There's a vase (putrid green with yellow and oranges flowers) in our family that belonged to my great grandmother. My grandmother inherited it and then it was passed to my mother. As long as I can remember it sat on her closet shelf. When she died, it somehow came to me. It now sits on my closet shelf. Have no idea whose closet it will grace next.

Mary Brady said...

Jeanie, great post. Great ass.

I have nothing as exciting. An old silver spoon and a large pair of framed, stoic ancestors. I use the spoon in ceremony at holiday meals. The ancestors live in the closet of the spare bedroom. I have offered them to any sibling or cousin who wants them. I've gotten no takers.

Jane said...

My mom got a lot of jewelry when she got married and we were looking through it recently and many of the styles of the pieces are now seen as old fashioned, but it's kind of hard just to sell it all because of the sentimental value. She'll definitely keep all the pieces that my grandmother gave her. She has a lovely brooch, but I don't think many people wear them anymore.

Debra Salonen said...

What a crack up! No pun intended. Well...maybe a small one. ;-)

I inherited one hideous painting--the kind that rightfully belongs in a man's shop (which is where ours is) and one nice one that hangs over our mantle. It's not a van Gogh, but every few years my hubby will make me get on the Internet and try to find the painter to see if he's famous yet. Sigh. We all have our dreams, right?

Thanks for the fun post.

Deb

Jeannie Watt said...

Ellen--I also have a full collection of Ellen Hartman's--one of which has a Jeannie in it. Great minds, Ellen, great minds.

Jeannie Watt said...

Helen--It was a classic college guy scenario--twin bed with an ass over it, lol. You're right about the prenup, though. Had he thought of it, the subject may have come up. :)

Joan Kilby said...

Jeannie, lol on handing down the ass painting! I have a beautiful needlepoint picture of the Blue Boy that my late grandmother made, and a hooked rug. Neither go with our decor but I treasure them and could never give them away. I also have a gorgeous crocheted tablecloth she made out of crochet cotton which is almost as fine as lace. I've never used it because I don't want to risk staining it. My daughter will inherit the table cloth but the boys might get the other items.

Jeannie Watt said...

Autumn--I don't blame you for being nervous. Amazingly some things that don't seem all that cool (like old electric fans from the 1940s or radios from the 1950s) end up being really cool later.

As to how my husband got the painting--it was the first piece of art he ever bought. It was painted by the wife of one of our geology professors in an art class. My husband saw it and simply had to have it. The rest is history.

Jeannie Watt said...

JV--Thanks for dropping by! My son does love the painting, and that makes it easier to let it go.

Jeannie Watt said...

Linda--I have no idea what a schmoo is either and I know lots of...well...stuff. Do explain, please.

Jeannie Watt said...

Linda Warren--Your story reminds me of a vase my mother ended up with when my grandmother passed away. It was this weird art deco style and an awful color, so she spray painted it. Later we found a picture of the exact same vase--not spray painted--in a magazine. In its original condition it was worth a ton. Spray painted...not too much, lol. Maybe you should research your vase. You never know...

Sonya said...

Our ‘heirlooms’ are all pretty new; many of my relatives are the first generation in this country, and left their homeland with no possessions.

I’m probably fated to inherit a lot of homemade furniture and Ukrainian embroidery, but I’m not sure – no naked lady paintings though!

Jeannie Watt said...

Mary--Too funny about having stoic ancestors in the closet. And it isn't like you can just send your ancestors to charity--some people do, but I never could. I love having special implements for special occasions. We have some little Italian knives in a small case that we use at Christmas for the antipasto.

Jeannie Watt said...

Jane--I think broaches are coming back into style. I'm seeing them all the time now. And I agree--it's hard to sell jewelry because of the attachment to the person that wore it.

Jeannie Watt said...

Deb--Crack up--too funny! I so hope your artist gets famous and the value of your painting sky rockets. And there's nothing like a good shop painting. I've seen some hilarious ones--ones I wouldn't mind having in my own shop.

Jeannie Watt said...

Joan--Your heirlooms sound lovely--especailly the tablecloth. I understand not using it because it's so hard to get stains out of lace. It's so nice have beautiful handmade items to pass throught he generations.

Jeannie Watt said...

Sonya--I absolutely adore Ukranian embroidery. Most of things I have to pass along to my kids aren't that old either. My family seemed to migrate a lot and left things behind when they did so. Perhaps that's why I'm kind of a collector/packrat.

Sarah Mayberry said...

I'm feeling a little short-changed - no ass paintings down here in Australia! And it seems like such an Australian thing to have! My mother has a lovely frosted green glass vase of my nan's that I will probably inherit, as well as a beautiful old tea caddy. I think my man and I are working on collecting a few oddball things - like the set of Babushka dolls my artist friend painted to resemble the "five faces" of my husband. They won't have meaning to anyone else, but it would be nice if one of the nieces or nephews takes a shine to them.

Laura Russell said...

Hi Jeanne, One of my treasures is my mom's collection of Judy Bolton and Nancy Drew mysteries. When we cleaned the house out, I couldn't let them go to Goodwill.

So neat your son wanted the family heirloom.

linda s said...

Aging rapidly here. Shmoos were occassional characters in the Little Abner comic strip.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li'l_Abner#Shmoos_and_other_mythic_creatures

Jeannie Watt said...

Hey Sarah--Ass paintings do seem like they should be an Australian thing--perhaps you could start a craze? Those babushka dolls sound fascinating. What a cool idea.

Jeannie Watt said...

Laura--I couldn't let Nancy Drew go to charity, either. Especially a collection. I have never read Judy Bolton. I may have to look into that. I still enjoy the occasional Nancy Drew.

Jeannie Watt said...

Linda S.--I do know what schmoos are. I'd forgotten, and I was a huge Lil Abner fan. Al Capp was such an amazing artist. Thanks for reminding me of schooms. Two feet high, you say? That must be some schmoo.

Kay Stockham said...

LOL Jeannie, too, too funny! I have no comment other than that. I'm laughing too hard.

Great story!

Kay

Jeannie Watt said...

Yes--the ass does make one want to smile, doesn't it? Thanks for stopping by, Kay!

Kaelee said...

Hi Jeannie ~ I read your post yesterday before anyone else had commented. Thank you so much for the chuckle. I love the painting and I can see why your husband wanted it.

I have lots of stuff from all sides of my and my husband's families. We are planning on giving most of it to family before we die if we get the chance. None of it is extremely valuable except for the sentimental value.

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