My mother collected silver souvenir spoons from foreign countries. Some showed national symbols and some were specific to a major city. There didn’t seem to be any particular theme to the spoons. Their purchase was more opportunistic.
I think my mother’s parents started the tradition when they traveled in Europe in the early 1960s. When my father went on business trips a few years later, he brought her back spoons as well. She made her first European trip with my father in about 1968 and found a couple more spoons for herself. All in all, she collected about fifteen of them, maybe more.
For years, they hung on a rack in a corner of the dining room in the house my parents owned from 1962 until 1980. We never used the spoons, not even on holidays. They simply hung, mementos of various trips taken by family members.
Some of the spoons I liked better than others. The Dutch spoon sported little wooden shoes (actually, they were made of ceramic) on its handle. The spoon from Ireland had a shamrock on it made of real blarney stone. Some of them I didn’t care for, though I can’t remember now where those were from.
When I went to Europe on a People to People trip during high school in 1970, I looked for a spoon to buy my mother. But either buying such a memento wasn’t in my limited budget for gifts, or I didn’t see any spoons from new places not already represented in her collection.
After my parents died, my sister, brother, and I cleaned out their house. It was February or March 2015. We came across the spoons, now hidden in a drawer in my parents’ dining room hutch.
“Do you want them?” I asked my siblings.
My sister and brother shook their heads. “What would we do with them?”
I didn’t want the spoons either. I didn’t care to hang them on a rack in my dining room, as my mother had. They would just end up in a drawer somewhere.
So we left the spoons where we’d found them, ready for the estate sale agent to price and try to sell.
A couple days later on that house-cleaning trip, as I was packing up the things I wanted to ship to my home in Kansas City, I went through all the drawers in my parents’ house one more time. I came across the souvenir spoons again. I still had no use for them.
But I kept six. The ones from London, Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Heidelberg, and Switzerland. The ones I liked the most.
They are stashed in a cupboard in my dining room now, and I doubt I will ever use them. In fact, I’ll probably rarely look at them.
I wish I’d kept the spoon from Scotland also. It had a thistle on the handle.
What useless family mementos do you treasure?