Who are you, Millie Lodden?

Going to estate sales is both exhilarating and a bit disheartening for me, like I mentioned in this post.

This past weekend was a perfect example.
Kensington and I loaded up, on Thursday morning (Sean was home-huzzah!) and bought our donuts.  We set off for one of my favorite neighborhoods to treasure hunt and when we came upon the house we would be visiting, it looked like any other home, in any other neighborhood. Much like the ones next door to me and very much like the ones next door to you.  Normal, unassuming and plain.

After I had scoured the vintage linens and made the first go around, I took K's hand and said, "Let's go through each room, one more time.  You never know what you'll find the second time."

I'm glad I did.

Under one large frame and a set of 1980's Olympic posters (they were torn to shreds or I would have grabbed those, first!) I found a medium sized cigar box.  Totally discarded (as evidenced by it's placement, on the ground).

I opened it and there I was struck, once again, with the brevity of life.

And there I was introduced to Millie Alene Lodden.

Inside the dusty box were hundreds of pictures.  Some developed and some foggy, brown negatives.  There were typed letters about camping trips and envelopes of photos from the local photography shop, in the heart of downtown Long Beach (I looked up the address of this old photo shop and it is now a vacant studio apartment, that sits above a STARBUCKS. That alone made me sad).
There were small handwritten notes and little pieces of paper, with curious markings and thoughts, written so so long ago. Postcards from friends and pictures of family.
It's obvious from the markings in her Bible, several photos and plenty of the ephemera, that the owner of these items had been a devout Catholic.
But who was the owner?

And then I picked up the box, and sat down on the dusty, gold, shag carpet, of this random house on Golden Avenue.  Kensington sat in a chair across from me and played with a few doilies-pretending they were hats and she was headed to the theatre.
I sat down, removed all of the contents of the box until I came to the bottom and there it was.

A beautiful, black leather Bible.
And it was engraved Millie Alene Lodden.

The inscription on the inside reads:

"In Remembrance of your confirmation.  October 17, 1915
Your pastor, P.C. Danielson"

I teared up and I really didn't try to pretend otherwise.
Sure, it must be weird to a random shopper that some a woman is sitting on the ground crying over a box of unwanted photos and a tattered Bible.

But it makes sense to me.

This box contained an entire life.
A life in photos, in memories, in letters written and notes jotted.

In a Bible that has markings and small verse cards and a homemade bookmark.

I don't know who Millie is, but I feel like I should.  I feel like I know of her and I know that she wouldn't have wanted her Bible underneath the other unimportant items that were laid on top of it.  She would have cared the most about these small fragments, of her life.

And so I thought about Millie, when I came home.  I walked through my house and looked in each room.  Throughout the day I traveled through the different areas and wondered...If I died, were would the meaningful items lay?  Would they be so covered by the unimportant that they would almost be invisible?
I began to unearth and give a place of importance to some items that I had stored away for "safe-keeping" and bring them to light.  I walked by other items that I love dearly, and smiled, for they are out each day to see.

All in all, Millie is inside my mind now and very much inside my heart because I feel like I know her and it's a shame that had I not gone that Thursday, perhaps no one else would have had that oppurtunity.

I paid $2.00 for the entire box of goods.
$2.00 for, what I think, are the most important parts of Millies life, that one can hold in their hand.
And it's already taught me quite a bit.

I suppose it's true what they say.
What is one mans trash is another mans (or estate sale shoppers) treasure.


  1. Tears and goosebumps. I love this.

  2. oh my goodness, what a find! i am glad it all found its way into your hands, since it seems you can truly appreciate it. beautiful, rachel.

    1. Oh, I so appreciate it, Carina. I can't tell you how much I love it..!

  3. Love this post. I take all of that to heart as well. We just moved to a house built in the 20's and I found 2 boxes in the attic full of school papers and pictures. Remarkable! My parents are now going through my grandparents' home, I asked for a shef/chest of drawers of theirs. I knew my grandparents bought the chest when they married and my dad and uncle built shelves to put on top when they were little boys and painted it green. When we were loading it the other day we saw the back of the shelf was an old painted ice sign my dad had done when he was young for their little gas station. I was so thrilled! That is certainly a treasured item in our home now.

    1. Jeana,
      What a treasure! When I was reading and you mentioned that you found a drawing of your fathers, I almost teared up! Those are the type of things that matter the very most and that I search high and low for. Wonderful!

  4. You shared this experience with us so eloquently and touchingly, it's as though I was right there on the carpet with you, tearing up as well (which I'm certain I would have). It's so tremendously wonderful that you were able to take home this collection of someone else's memories and give them a new life with you. I'm sure Millie would be happy.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. I like to think she would be, as well. Smiling down....

  5. I loved this so much. God bless you for sharing this with us. In fact, I put off reading this post for a day because I just knew it was gonna make me cry. ;) I agree with Jessica....I felt as if I was there experiencing this with you. Makes me want to go to estate sales! xoxo, Jen

    1. Jennifer,
      You really must try a sale. Trust me. If I can get my husband and one of his friends hooked, you know it's a good thing....

  6. First and foremost..thanks for visiting my blog and commenting! Now I've found yours and I must say...I'M IN LOVE!!

    Am off to peruse posts, stare at the vintage wallpaper and check out your Etsy shop!

    Have a great day!

    Tina :-)

    1. Tina,
      You're so welcome! And I love that your checking out the shop....I have a coupon code for newbies right now...10% off your first order! Use WELCOME10 in the coupon code and happy shopping!

  7. This made me weepy it's so true. I think that because we are children of God we feel that sweet connection to each other. Every life should be recognized right.
    When my grandparents passed and the family went through the house the only things a lot of them took we're the things of monetary value. I was heart broken, but at the same time I scored big time with their photos my grandfathers eagle scout badges and awards I even have their old ration book. Treasures.
    Great post Rachel.

    1. I'm so sorry that that happened amongst your family members, but I hear it happens often. It's so very sad and makes me eager to share how really valuable the LEGACY is, of a person....and not so much their "stuff".
      Thank you, Kelly!

  8. Oh what a treasure indeed! I agree that you picked up the most important item at the sale. Photos and letters are some of the most insightful items one comes across at sales and shops, however I feel they don't get enough attention. I'm so happy you picked these up, since you obviously care a great deal. Wonderful post! Thank you for sharing!


    1. Hi Janey!
      Thank you for dropping in. You're right....these small items don't get the attention they are due. But we are saving them-one picture at a time!

  9. I am always overwhelmed by similar feelings when I find an old estate sale. It feels a bit like trampling on something sacred. (Of course the other side of me? Exhilaration over all the fun goodies!)

    1. It certainly is a double-edged sword.....

  10. That is just so sweet and says a lot about you. I also have boxes packed with memories, special cards, letters I've received, notes I wrote at school. It's lovely that you have a name for the person in the box. what a treasure.


    1. Never give them away or toss! They will be treasures to someone else, as well!! <3 <3

  11. what a treasure, I'm so glad you were the one that found it. on a side note, how do you find out about all these estate sales?!

  12. Loved this! My daughter is a "beauty operator" at an assisted living facility and she has such a heart for the elderly. It breaks my heart when they share about the things they used to have that were treasures to them but couldn't bring with them. Most of them had to have estate sales to help pay for their care... It blesses me that you saw the value in that $2 box of memories! Good stuff girl!!!