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Treasure Hunting

Travel: Antiquing in Fox Cities, Wisconsin


Last fall I spent a few days exploring Appleton and the other small towns and cities that make up  Fox Cities, Wisconsin. It's such a beautiful part of the country and I can see why Appleton has been called one of the best small towns in America. 

I loved the Edna Ferber and Harry Houdini exhibits at the History Museum at the Castle. I made paper at the Paper Discovery Center on the banks of the swift-moving Fox River, a hands-on center that pays homage to the city's past. I toured the grand Hearthstone House, the first house in the world to be powered by hydroelectricity.

And then, because I always try to stop by at least one antiques shop or mall when I travel, I went antiquing.

For those of us who love old things, even in this age of online shopping, it's interesting to see what people collect in different places. I almost always find some little something I don't want to leave behind.

In Appleton, I stopped by the Fox River Antique Mall and hadn't been there long when an old 1920s camera tripod caught my eye. 

It was made of golden oak and in great shape. The slender telescopinng legs were straight and still had the original brass screws to tighten them to the desired height.

I've seen similiar tripods (reproductions) at Pottery Barn, World Market, Restoration Hardware and other decorating and home good stores, most made into lamps and other accessories, and they can be expensive. But the vintage piece in the antique mall near Appleton cost about what I'd pay for lunch and I knew I could make something out of it. I bought it knowing it wouldn't fit in my small carry-on suitcase but before I left I stopped by the post office, put the tripod into a flat-rate box and shipped it home. 

Later, still thinking I would make a lamp, I bought an old-fashioned Edion-style  lightbulb and put it aside with the box holding the tripod, waiting for the right time to start a new project.

Then, warm weather arrived and we started spending more time outdoors, eating most meals on the patio and lingering until long after dark. I put candles around the garden and shadowy corners of the patio. One evening I was looking for something with a little height to hold a candle and I remembered the tripod I'd sent home from Appleton. I finally opened the box and, after putting a white candle on the brass fitting at the top, I put the tripod in a corner beside the wisteria vine that screens the patio. It was exactly right.

Summer faded into fall and when the nights finally got too cool, I surrenderd and moved back indoors. But I brought the tripod with me. I bought a package of small plastic caps at the hardware store and covered the sharp metal spikes on each telescoping leg (useful for balancing and steadying a heavy camera in grass or soil, but not kind to hardwood floors)  and replaced the chunky white candle with a wax-covered flameless candle. I set the timer and now each afternoon at 5pm the faux candle comes to life and flickers throughout the evening, creating a warm glow in what would otherwise be a dark corner. And each time I look at it I remember the trip to Appleton.

Most of us like to bring home some kind of little souvenir of the places we've traveled to. I know I do. They are special because they are tangible reminders of a vacation or travel experience. But when I stumble on a lovely old thing and can come up with a practical use for it, I love it all the more.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap's audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of 'Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons' and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.comˆ

History and mystery engraved in silver cigarette case

    When I have a little time to myself, I like to drop into my favorite chair in the living room, the one next to the low white bookshelf near the fireplace. 

On the shelves, beside the stack of pages torn from magazines or clipped from newspapers from around the world, are the books I’m reading, or the books I’m hoping to read, or the books I read a long time ago and like to have where I can pick them up and fall back into a familiar story. 


    I start reading and before long, out of habit and without taking my eyes off the page, I reach over and pick up my silver cigarette case. My fingers find the latch, press it and the case pops open. But I’m not fumbling for a cigarette.


     The engraved silver plate cigarette case is a bit battered but that’s to be expected. It’s almost 100 years old, after all, and who knows where it’s been over the last century? The silver is thin in places, showing the brass beneath, but one can still read the date and message engraved on the top: “To A. Gates from the girls at Manor Works.” and the date: 1918.


     I keep colorful self-adhesive paper flags in the case and use them to mark an interesting page or passage in a book so I can easily find it again.


    When I found the case online I was intrigued. I was searching for reference material about World War I and it popped up because of the date. I wasn’t looking for a cigarette case, but it was a bargain. There is a tiny puncture in the back but the latch still works and even with shipping costs, it was less than a lunch out. And, to be honest, I was attracted to the slight mystery of the engraving—Who was A. Gates? What was Manor Works?—and I knew I would eventually find a use for it. 

    So I placed the order. The day it came in the mail I unwrapped it and again wondered about the man it had been given to. I’m assuming A. Gates was a man. Women smoked at the time but there is something a bit masculine about the case. Still, I could be wrong…


    I’ve been searching for more information about A. Gates and Manor Works and I think it might somehow be connected to the historic Crittall Window Company’s Manor Works in Braintree England.  The company began in 1849 and during the early 20th Century moved into the U. S. market manufacturing windows for Ford Model T’s and built steel windows in Detroit. 

    During the Great War Crittall’s role shifted ( as did so many others) and they produced munitions.


    In 1918, the year the war ended, Crittall entered into a manufacturing agreement with a Belgian company and began to manufacture metal windows for modern post-war housing.

     Perhaps Mr. Gates was leaving to work in the new enterprise and the the cigarette case was a goodbye gift from “the girls.”


    I’m going to keep digging but for now, the case, a kind of mystery of its own, is at home near my favorite chair in the company of a lot of fine old books. I think the girls would approve


Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the U.S. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at


Collectible milk glass is both pretty and practical

I’m not a milk glass collector, although there are many people who are, but I do occasionally pick up a particularly pretty piece when I can put it to some practical use. Living in a small cottage means that what comes into the house must serve some purpose, but I didn’t hesitate when I saw this dish in the shape of a woman’s open hands. I knew it would be perfect for any number of things: rings and other jewelry, after dinner mints, keys, and more.


Or, perhaps, for showcasing an object. Like a single ripe cherry.


One of the best things about living in this part of the country is access to the dark, sweet, cherries that pour into the markets each summer and cherries are my favorite fruit.


We drive to the cherry orchards at Green Bluff and pick them right off the tree and I fill freezer bags with pitted cherries to last us through the winter. And, for as long as they last at the grocery store, I can’t resist bringing them home. They are, to me,  the taste of summer and a sweet benefit of our hot, dry, summers and cold winters. During the season, especially a particularly abundant season like we’ve had this year, there is always a bowl filled with cherries in the refrigerator. At the end of the day or on a lazy Sunday morning, I like nothing better than sitting in a shaded spot in the garden with the cherry bowl and a good book.



I brought home another bag yesterday and I noticed there were only a few left in the store. I packed a few for our picnic at the Spokane Symphony Soiree on the Edge concert at Arbor Crest Winery last night and I’ve been nibbling on them this morning until there was only one left.


I suppose it’s possible this might be the last fresh cherry I’ll have until next summer so I dropped the remaining cherry into the palms of the open hands of the milk glass tray I'd just brought home. Perfect. The cool white glass was a good background for the dark, satiny, fruit.


Tomorrow the tray will be on my dressing table, holding my watch and the silver bracelets I pick up on my travels. But this morning the hands frame another favorite thing: the sweet bounty of the a Northwest orchard. 


Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the U.S. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at




This beautiful old chair turned up at the right moment

    For those of us who love beautiful old things, it’s a familiar feeling. Our best “finds” actually seem to find us. We have something in mind and then one day, when we least expect it, we look around and there is the thing we desire just waiting to be discovered.


    I was found by a chair the other day. 


    Just as I carried a box of clothes and household items to donate through the front door of the thrift store, I saw an oak chair being brought in through the back door.

I handed off the box ,took my tax receipt and walked straight back to the man holding the chair. He put it down and walked away and I picked it up.


    It was a pressed-back oak chair. Mass-produced in great quantities around the turn of the last century, pressed oak pieces are not hard to find. But when I looked at the chair closely I realized it was a “youth” chair, meant to be used when a child is too big for a high chair but not quite big enough to use a chair designed for an adult. That’s not quite as common.


    The thing is, just the night before I’d had my daughter’s family, including the 2-year-old toddler, over for dinner. The toddler wasn’t happy about sitting in a high chair and insisted on sitting at the table with us. The dining room chair was too big for her, of course, so we were all up and down throughout the meal, making sure forks and spoons and anything else within reach didn’t fall to the floor. I told my daughter we needed a youth chair to make baby more comfortable and allow her to sit at the table with the rest of us. And, as sometimes happens, the very next morning a youth chair found me.


    The ornamental designed pressed into the back of the chair, an elaborately carved portrait of a man’s face, was obviously designed to attract a child’s eye. He looks like a fairytale King or some mythical figure.


    The sturdy chair has a few nicks and dings, but it’s in pretty good shape. And at  $20 it was a great deal. I put it in the back of my car, where just a few minutes before I’d had a box of giveaways, and brought it home.


    The toddler loves it and it’s her seat of honor now when she’s at the table. She likes to run her finger over the impression, tracing the face of the figure on the back, and we don’t have to hover while she eats.


    And I like the idea that occasionally we just have to be in the right place at the right time to be rewarded with the next great find.



Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at


Easy DIY: From CD Cabinet to Linen Chest

    Sometimes, all it takes to completely recreate an object, to repurpose and in that way recycle an item, is to change the way we see it. 


    I recently found a solid pine cabinet at a local antique mall. What drew me to it was the weathered pine finish and the rustic look. It wasn’t old at all, but it was solid, the wood was in great condition and all the iron drawer pulls were still attached. When I pulled out one of the drawers I realized it was meant to hold CDs and DVDs.


    In my pre-war Cape Cod house, the living room, kitchen and eating area are all somewhat open. That leaves precious little wall space for storage pieces, but there is a little slice of space between the pantry, the edge of the tile kitchen floor and a window. I’d been looking for something useful to fit the space but hadn’t had much luck finding anything. I wasn’t exactly sure what I needed, just that I could use more storage space and that’s where I wanted to put it. Whatever it was.


    When I saw the CD cabinet, tall, narrow and with five drawers, I knew it would fit the small space and I liked the height of the piece. I still wasn’t sure exactly what I would use it for but the price was right so I brought it home. 


    It was a perfect fit.


    It stayed empty for a few days while I thought about how to use it. Then, one day, looking at the drawers I realized I might be able to make a small linen chest out of it.


     I have a collection of linen napkins I’ve picked up at flea markets and antique shops all over the world. Some are delicate and very old. Others are sturdy linen or cotton. I prefer these fabric napkins to paper and I use them at the table quite often. Until now they’ve been taking up space in the armoire I use to store my china and serving pieces, but I discovered a dozen folded napkins fit easily into each drawer.


    My friends teased me about the way I decided to use the chest. “Who has that many linen napkins?” one asked.


    I know most people don’t bother with linen napkins and I don’t always. But I find them hard to resist and I add a few more pieces to my collection each year. I like the feel of the fabric and the exquisite workmanship that went into the embroidery and stitching of some of the pieces. 


    But I came up with other ways I could have used the pine chest that didn’t seem so frivolous. Lined with felt, the shallow drawers would be perfect for jewelry. It could be used to store supplies for hobbies and crafts, or perfect in a bathroom for holding soaps, washcloths and hand towels.


    Who knows? I may use it for one of those purposes later. But right now, I’m happy with the project. I didn’t have to paint or repair or change the chest in any way. All I had to do to make it into something new was change the way it is used. And that can be done again.


Details: I found this piece at Vintage Rabbit Antique Mall, 2317 N. Monroe, Spokane


Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at


The appeal of vintage maps



    Recently, going through boxes in the basement, I ran across an old map of the place I once lived. I brought it with me when I moved west, clipping it from a crumbling book that was too far gone to save, intending to frame it one day. But I never did.


    Alone in the room, tracing with the tip of my finger the twists and turns of surprisingly familiar rivers, mountains and geographic boundaries drawn on fine old gilt-edged paper, I could suddenly and distinctly recall the essential elements of my childhood in the South. The the slant of the hot summer sun and the heavy feel of the humid air, the sound of cicadas and Mockingbirds and the heady fragrance of gardenia and jasmine. It was as if I’d stirred the sediment at the bottom of a pond, releasing a wealth of memories only lightly buried. And all this from a piece of illustrated paper.


    In some ways every map is a treasure map. 


    An old map is a moment in history captured on paper. Time passes and people and places change. Rivers are dammed and swallow small towns. War and weather alter the landscape. Political pressures ebb and flow, shifting boundary lines. Governments fail, people rise, and maps are drawn and drawn again.


    There are other maps in other boxes in my basement. Some, like the state map I saved, are markers of another life. Others are souvenirs of places I’ve been or tokens of places I’d like to go. A few have no significance other than the fact that they are beautiful as only a map can be. Elaborately illustrated, beautifully designed, they are time capsules, a link to a place before it became what it is now. 


    Because I am a planner, I am already thinking ahead to the time when my life will shrink to fit a room, maybe two, and what I will carry with me when that time comes. I imagine the walls will be covered by some of my favorite paintings and a photographic timeline of the life I have lived; images of a young couple just married, both of us made beautiful by youth and happiness and love, portraits of the children we cherished and still more portraits of the families our children created. 

    And there will be a map or two, I think. A big world map and another of the United States.


    Maybe I’ll keep a map Paris, too. Why not? I like the idea of finding it again some day, of running my finger over the lines so finely drawn, chasing the memory of my younger self down those beautiful and familiar streets and boulevards, when I am too old or frail to fly.




Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at

What is my collectible worth?

   I received an email from a reader this week, asking for help. The man who wrote has some antiques and collectibles that have been in his family for generations. He’d like to know what they’re worth and who to go to for that information. 


   It wasn’t that long ago that finding out the relative value of your heirlooms was a difficult process. It usually required taking your items to an appraiser or sending photos and detailed information. And it could be expensive.


   For fine, rare and unusual antiques, that is still the case. You definitely need a professional’s opinion before selling or insuring. But, for most mass-produced items made some time in the last century, there’s an easier way.


   Go to the crowd.


   Take a look at Pinterest. See what people are talking about, linking to and pinning to their virtual pin boards.  Check online auctions like eBay and vintage marketplaces like Etsy, where you can get an idea of what your collectible is worth at the moment and what such things are selling for around the world. This will give you a good idea of condition and rarity and help you gauge demand.


   Ultimately, most things are worth only what someone is willing to pay. Collectibles, like fashion, are subject to popular trends. What was highly prized a few years ago, may not be sought after today. 


   Most of us never get that Antiques Roadshow moment, finding out the trash in the attic will make us rich. But, you never know. For every treasure there’s a treasure hunter.



Cheryl-Anne Millsap also writes about travel at Home Planet. She can be reached at 


Vintage VW microbus a sweet little ride


      Vintage toys have great appeal because they not only reflect an era or specific period of time, they carry fond memories of childhood and play. And vintage die-cast cars are one of the most enduringly popular collectibles. For some, the curators, only mint collectibles—preferably still in the box—will do. For others, the sentimental treasure hunter, the obvious signs of use, the dents, scrapes and wear and tear of play, only add to the appeal. 


      I saved a shoebox full of the matchbox cars my children played with, but although I’ve admired plenty at flea markets and antique sales, I’ve never bought a vintage toy car or truck. Until a few days ago when I saw a 1960s die-cast replica of a VW Microbus on the shelf in a local thrift store and I couldn’t leave it behind.


     The toy is completely intact with none of the little pieces of trim missing. There are a few scratches here and there but the doors still open and close and it rolls straight. But to be honest, none of that mattered. What really drew me to it was that it reminded me of my son, not as a little boy pushing toys around in the sand box, but as a young man who likes to tinker with things.


     Several years ago he bought a real vintage Volkswagen bus the same robin’s egg blue and white as the toy. The bus was in great shape when he bought it and he continued to make improvements to the interior. By the time he was done it was a compact, comfortable, camper. He and his friends camped all over the Pacific Northwest in it.


     While the VW bus was fun to work on, and fun to use, it just wasn’t practical for everyday use so he sold it for a tidy profit. But whenever he rolled up my driveway in the driver’s seat, he had a smile on his face and I hated to see it go.


     So, when I saw the vintage 1960s Microbus I brought it home. It doesn’t have any great monetary value, similar toys are selling online for under $20. But at $3.99, and considering the pleasure it brings me each time I look at it, my new toy was a real steal.


You can read more of Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s work on her Home Planet blog. She can be reached at


Share your “Object of Affection”




    The cover story of the December 29th New York Times Magazine was “The Lives They Lived” and it featured profiles of a number of celebrities and luminaries who died in 2013. What I found most interesting were the photos of possessions belonging to some of those profiled: James Gandolfini’s battered Cadillac. Editta Sherman’s tube of red lipstick. Esther Williams’ swimsuit. The gloves Scott Carpenter wore in Space. 


    I especially liked that the Times used the phrase “Objects of Affection” to describe the things people loved. That’s my phrase, too.


    I’ve always been fascinated by the things we hold dear, the things we hold on to. Over the years, in my Treasure Hunting columns and blog posts, I’ve shared the story behind a number of my own favorite possessions, but in November 2013, I started a series on my Treasure Hunting blog featuring the “Objects of Affection” of people in our community. I sent out an email to some of my Facebook connection asking if they’d be willing to share the stories of their favorite objects. The response was immediate and fascinating. Men, women, and even a child, wrote of their love for ordinary objects that ranged from sheet music to paper mementoes to childhood toys to jewelry to heirloom furniture and artwork


    My idea was to give ordinary people a chance to share their fondness for ordinary objects. I was able to post a few before the busyness of the holiday season overwhelmed me—this is a personal project, not an assignment— but in 2014 I’m looking forward to getting more stories up on a regular basis.


    Consider this your invitation to show and tell.  What is the thing you hold onto? Why? Send me an email (subject heading “Object”) at and I’ll do the rest.


    Oh, and the photo above? That’s one of my own objects of affection. It’s the old yellow ware bowl in my kitchen. It was in my mother’s kitchen and my grandmother’s kitchen before that. I’ve written about it a number of times over the years because I can’t imagine living in a house without it.


Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the U.S. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” (available at Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane) and can be reached at





Object of Affection: Sophia Caruso’s Sound of Music

(Photo by Deena Caruso)


   Tonight is Sophia Anne Caruso’s big night. As part of the cast of NBC’s landmark televised live production of “The Sound of Music,” starring Carrie Underwood, Stephen Moyer and Audra McDonald, she’ll be a part of something that hasn’t been done by any network in half a century. 


   But the 12-year-old veteran performer’s favorite collection—a stack of Broadway musical scores—shows she’s been preparing for years.  She’s learned them all—”Annie,” “Mary Poppins,” “Les Miserables,” “Hairspray” and more— and sings them for both the pure pleasure of it and for the constant auditions that are a big part of any actor’s life. 


    As it happens, one of her favorite shows is “The Sound of Music.”


    “I saw the movie when I was five or 6 and I loved it,” Sophia says. “So my mother got the Broadway score for me and I learned it. I sang it constantly.”  


    Tonight she will perform those familiar songs again, this time for millions of viewers.


    Sophia Caruso has worked steadily since moving with her mother from Spokane to New York City 18 months ago, and will play Brigitta von Trapp in tonight’s live production. She says it’s the role she would have chosen.


   “I love Brigitta,” she says. “She’s a lot like me. We both like to read.”


    Her mother, Spokane business owner, Deena Caruso, is the score keeper. 


    “I always have some of them with me,” Deena Caruso says. “You never know when you’ll need one.” 


    Tonight, when the show is over, she’ll pull out Sophia’s copy of “The Sound of Music.”  “I’m going to have it signed by everyone in the cast,” Sophia says.


   When asked if she thinks she’ll keep the stack of musical scores, Sophia Caruso doesn’t hesitate.


    “Oh, of course, I’ll have them forever. They are my treasures,” she says. “They’re signed and marked in my kiddie handwriting. Years from now I’ll look at them and I’ll always remember how much I loved to sing those songs.”


Watch “The Sound of Music” tonight at 8 p.m. on KHQ-TV



Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard each week on Spokane Public Radio. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” which is available at Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane.


Object of Affection: Susanna Baylon’s special invitation


    Some of us hold onto a few bits a pieces of paper for sentimental reasons, but most of the countless notes, forms, to-do lists, etc. that seem to bombard us are quickly discarded. Still, who hasn’t thought about one or two things with regret, realizing too late that what had seemed disposable at the time was actually a paper fortune, hinting at the future?


    Susanna Baylon, former KXLY news anchor, is unabashedly sentimental.


    “Almost everything on display in my home has a story,” she says.    


    To illustrate this, Baylon points to a framed piece of paper hanging on her dining room wall. It is a 2001 invitation to the first Diamonds and Diva’s gala. The fundraising event for the now-shuttered Spokane Opera was held in the lobby of the Davenport Hotel, which was undergoing an extensive renovation before its grand reopening.


    Although she didn’t know it at the time, it was also an invitation to a new life.


    Baylon was Master of Ceremonies for the gala. She’d invited a male friend to go with her and the tall man across the table had brought his mother to the Black Tie event.


    “I thought, ‘What a nice guy,’” Baylon says, “But that was it.”


    They went their separate ways that night but the next time their paths crossed, she remembered him from New Year’s Eve. And this time there was a spark. Eventually, Dean Fries contacted her and they had their first date at Rockwood Bakery, near Manito Park. Surrounded by the rich raspberry-colored walls, romance bloomed.


    Almost exactly one year after their New Year’s Eve introduction, Baylon ran across the printed invitation and realized it marked the beginning of what she was already hoping would be a lifetime together. So she made a plan.


    “I had it framed for him for Christmas, hoping he would someday ask me to marry him and that I would get it back and it would hang in our home,” Baylon says. On the back she’d written, “A miraculous night I thank God for every day.”



    She got her wish. The couple married in 2003, in the place where it all started—the lobby of the Davenport Hotel. And the framed invitation took a place of honor in the home they now share with their 7-year-old daughter. It shows well against the deep hue of the wall which just happens to be the exact shade of the interior of Rockwood Bakery. 


    “When I look at the invitation now,” Baylon says. “I always wonder how different my life would be if I had not been a part of that event.”


       “And how many women can say they met their future husband and mother-in-law at the same time?”


Cheryl AnneMillsap’s audio essays can be heard each week on Spokane Public Radio. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” which is available at Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane.


Object of Affection: Gina Freuen’s Portrait of Memories

   I suppose you could argue that an artist, especially someone from a family of artists, would naturally be sentimental about artwork. But ceramic artist Gina Freuen’s love for a particular painting is more about the memories within it than the work itself.

   “The painting was done by my mother when she was 33 years old and I was 5.  Mom is 90 now.  It is a painting of my great Aunt Maggie sitting in a rocking chair, with a curio cupboard behind her, book shelves and a window that looks out at a path that leads away from the house,” Freuen says. “ My mother painted this painting with naive skills.  The rocker floats and the feet sit lower than the chair, but it shows the skills she was developing in becoming a wonderful painter in her mature years.  

   Freuen rescued the painting from her parents’ garage sale many years ago as they prepared to retire and move to the Oregon Coast.

   “They had visions of a new, fun, retirement life and all of this old stuff had to go,” she says.

   To Freuen,  the history of four generations of women in her family is captured by her mother’s brush strokes and she couldn’t let it slip out of her hands. She brought it home with several other special pieces.

   “My Great Aunt Maggie lived in the original homestead up in Almira, Washington.  Our trips up there as children were looked forward to for weeks,” she says. “The path leading to the house (is) imprinted on my mind.  When I picture the house, I picture the path.  I picture      Great Aunt Maggie standing at the door.” 

   The house still stands and now Maggie’s daughter, Eileen, lives there. The curio in the painting is still there. The bookshelves are still there. The path is still there.

   But the painting holds a deeper significance in Freuen’s eyes.

   “As mother moved into her Alzheimer years she lost her ability to paint, so having one of her early paintings is very important to me.  She has never recognized the painting as one she values because she only sees skills that needed to be better,”Freuen says. “It could be said that memories are the most important to us not objects; this painting holds my most cherished memories.”  

     “If my house were to catch fire, I would grab it and run.”


Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard each week Spokane Public Radio. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at










Object of Affection: A Silver Merrie-Woode Bracelet

   When Susannah Wessel reaches into her jewelry box, she can trace the happiest summer moments of her youth in the simple crescent of a sterling silver bracelet. The band, engraved with her initials on the inside and the letters M and W on the outside, is a loyalty bracelet from Camp Merrie-Woode, a girls camp in North Carolina that has been operating since 1919. 


    “My father’s company purchased a company condo in the small town of Sapphire Valley, North Carolina in 1981,” Wessel wrote.  “Shortly thereafter, my family started to spend our vacations there whenever possible.  There is a lake called Lake Fairfield. One day we decided to take a walk around the lake and we stumbled across a camp for girls: Camp Merrie-Woode.  It was in such a beautiful setting, nestled beneath Old Bald Mountain.”

    After talking to the director, Wessel’s parents enrolled her for the next summer. Wessel received her bracelet in 1988 after attending six summers. She spent a total of 10 summers at Camp Merrie-Woode, the last three as counselor.

    “The camp is still one of my favorite places on earth.  It was there that I learned how to shoot a bow and arrow and ride a horse.  I learned canoeing, kayaking, and sailing.  I slid down rocks and swam a mile to the dam in the Dam Swim.  I went on campouts, hikes, and river trips, and I even slept out in a canoe on the lake,” Wessel wrote. “I made life-long friends, and I cried like a baby on the last night each year when it was time to go back home.” 

    The idea of a silver bracelet given to loyal campers was conceived by Dammie Day, the founder of the camp. The bracelet is given at the campfire of the last night of each camp session and over the years, thousands of girls have received their Merrie-Woode bracelets. Wessel and her husband Sean eventually purchased the North Carolina condo from her father’s business and their daughter followed in her mother’s footsteps. She’ll receive her own bracelet this summer.

    “I wear my Merrie-Woode bracelet the whole time she is there.  In so many ways it connects me to her as she is enjoying so many of the same experiences I had there many years ago,” Wessel wrote. “ We will be connected by a bond that will never be broken and will always hold a special place in my heart.”

     “This simple, elegant, bracelet is a beautiful, tangible reminder of that.”    


Cheryl-Anne Millsap's audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at









Shopping: Mad Hatter Vintage Flea Market this weekend


This weekend, starting Friday at 4pm, the Mad Hatter Vintage Flea Market will bring vintage fun to the Five Mile Prairie Grange. 


Once again the mother and daughter team of Gladys and Celia Hanning will fill the historic grange with antiques, music and good food. In addition to the more than 30 dealers joining Gladys and Celia, Kayleen Jeffery of Vintage Mamma & Friends will be bringing her special biscotti to the market along with other good food and Haley & Ashlee from Accoustic Vibrations provide music.  


The annual Mad Hatter Flea Market has become one of Spokane’s favorite fall vintage events and the perfect place to score all those great finds to jumpstart the season for decorating and entertaining.


Happy treasure hunting!

Thrift store shopping in Bergen, Norway

    After spending a couple of days in Oslo and then a day in Kirkenes , Norway, I boarded the Hurtigruten coastal cruiser “Midnatsol” for a week-long cruise south along the coast to Bergen.

    Each day I walked down to the gift shop on deck 5 to look at the beautiful Dale of Norway sweaters. The heavy hand-knitted sweaters are iconic Norwegian. They're beautiful and they're expensive. The women’s sweaters, usually in the $200 to $350 range, can sell for as much as $600.

    At the end of the cruise, when we docked in Bergen, I checked into my hotel and went for a walk through the neighborhood. Almost immediately I noticed a rack of beautiful vintage Norwegian sweaters through the window of the Fretex, or Salvation Army, thrift store which was exactly what I'd been hoping for.  (When I traveled to Iceland I picked up my prized Icelandic sweater at the same kind place.) It was too late to shop but I was there when the store opened the next morning.

    The sweaters were older versions of what I'd seen on the ship and in store windows down by the touristy section of town. The most expensive, a long red Dale of Norway sweater was priced at only $83.  I was tempted and tried it on but it was too big. That’s how it goes when you’re thrift shopping. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t.

    I moved on to the books where I spent the next hour, my head tilted at an angle as I moved along reading titles. There were pre-war schoolbooks, beautifully illustrated art books and even Norwegian translations of American classics like Margaret Mitchell's “Gone with the Wind.”

    I looked through the household items and was seriously tempted by a partial spice set with the names of the spices written in curling script on the front but let them stay. They were pretty to look at but not something I needed or would use.

    I did leave Bergen with one vintage souvenir, though: a small hotel-silver coffee pot. I didn't recognize the hallmarks on the bottom but it is heavy and in great condition. Perfect for serving coffee or hot chocolate on the patio, or by the fireplace in cold weather.

    I'm bringing home the usual assortment of standard souvenirs for my family but so far, with reindeer antlers, the vintage coffee pot and sea glass I picked up by a fjord, my own keepsakes from my trip to Norway are more unique and personal.

    And that’s exactly why I’ll treasure them the most, of course.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer whose audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at

Once Upon A Time with ‘My Book House’ stories

   Some of my favorite childhood memories are of the hours I spent sitting sideways across my grandfather’s big reading chair, one padded chair arm at my back, the other under my knees, and a book under my nose.

   We had an old set of My Book House books, a classic collection of stories edited by Olive Beaupre Miller. They may have been my mother’s when she was a child, but for as long as I can remember they were on the bookshelf by that chair and I read them all. I liked the old-fashioned Nursery Rhymes and I was intrigued by the myths, but my favorites were the Fairy Tales. As a young girl my head was filled with the elaborate illustrations of tall castles with moats and towers, dashing knights in armor and fierce horses draped in colorful blankets and bridles.    

   The day before I left for a recent trip to France, I dropped into The Vintage Rabbit. I’d been upstairs at the public radio studio to record audio essays for the upcoming weeks and although I was pushed for time, I couldn’t resist.  I walked through quickly and was turning to go when I saw the distinctive green-to-blue “rainbow” covers of the books I’d loved as a child. The mixed-edition set was a bargain at only $28. Sold. I gathered the books, paid and left.

   I knew what would happen if I opened one so I put the set on a shelf near my favorite reading spot and didn’t go near them again until I was packed and ready to catch my flight the next morning.  Finally, worn out from all the work that goes into preparing for any trip, keyed up and a bit stressed, I sat down and looked over what I’d bought.

   It was like going back in time. The stories and illustrations were so familiar to me I knew exactly where to find my favorites.

   A few days later I was walking down the narrow, curving, cobblestoned streets of Carcassonne, the beautiful medieval fortress city in the south of France. As I climbed up to walk along the stone walls, I thought about the little girl who’d buried her nose in fairy tales. The lucky coincidence of finding the books again was particularly sweet.

   Then, a week after my return from France, a friend and I drove down to the little town of Rockford to shop at Hurd Mercantile. One space was filled with vintage French items, including books. One 1907 book, ‘A Spring Fortnight in France’ was particularly intriguing. The cover was illustrated with an old photograph of the French countryside and it was about the travels of two young women who’d visited southern France more than 100 years before I’d set foot there. The chapter on Carcassonne had photos of the city as it had been at that time. Sold again. I brought it home and read most of it that night.

   I traveled on a modern Air France jet.  I carried an iPhone, a digital camera and a credit card, but my trip was even more memorable because as a child my imagination had been fired by the illustrations in a set of story books. Then, when I returned home, I was able to contrast my trip with the words of a woman writing for other women more than 100 years ago.

  My own experience was bound with words and pictures from long ago.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer whose audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at

Hope Chests and Silver Spoons: How girls’ graduation gifts have changed

This past weekend in Spokane, thousands of high school seniors graduated and most received gifts from friends and family.

My daughter graduated this weekend, as well. And, just as it was with her siblings, our gift was a computer to take to school with her. It's a pretty common gift these days, a tool for study and work. Exactly what the contemporary student needs to succeed. But that wasn't always the case.

In the not-too-distant past, girls didn't get that kind of gift. Instead, they were given items that would prepare them for becoming wives and mothers. College was fine, but the real work came after they were awarded their 'Mrs.' degree. Later, in the 1960s and 70s, luggage became a popular graduation gift, suitable for a traveling coed, single working girl and (fingers crossed!) eventual honeymooner. Remember Mary Tyler Moore's matched set of white luggage?

I write a column about antiques and collectibles for Nostalgia Magazine each month. In the latest column I wrote about the tradition of Lane Furniture Company gifting high school senior girls with a miniature cedar chest to be used as a jewelry box. The hope was that soon they would be buying, or be given, a full-size 'hope chest' to fill with things they would need as wives and homemakers. Silver companies gave girls a miniature sterling spoon or knife, often fashioned into a pin, when they picked out a silver pattern.

Today the idea of a hope chest filled with household items, linens and lingere seems laughable. But it wasn't that long ago that young women were expected to marry young and set up housekeeping right away.


Farm Chicks Antiques Show this weekend

Spokane's homegrown vintage gala event happens this weekend when the annual Farm Chicks Antiques Show hits the Spokane Fair and Expo Center. With everything from rustic farm implements to shabby chic finds to one-of-a-kind handmade items, the sale is always a hit with Spokane vintage treasure hunters.

Here are all the details:

Where:  Spokane County Fair and Expo Center, 404 N. Havana Street, Spokane Valley, Washington.

When: Saturday, June 1st, 9am – 6pm

Sunday, June 2nd, 9am – 4pm

Admission:  $8 per day. (Note: There is no early admission this year.)

Details: Free Parking

Shopping: May Calendar of Vintage Sales

Thanks to Brian Gallagher and Junk Nation Review for the May Treasure Hunting Calendar:


The Prairie Sisters Party
May 4th 10am - 4pm
Admission:  $5.00 (children under 10 are free)
Missoula County Farigrounds
Missoula, MT

Down the Rabbit Hole

May 4th
412 West Hazard Road
Spokane, WA

Farm & Frills At The Barn Antique Show
May 11th 9am - 5pm Admission $5
Genesis Farm & Gardens
41925 236th Ave SE
Enumclaw, WA 98022

2nd Saturdayz
May 11th 9am - 4pm
$5 entrance
The Old Post Office
1102 A Street Tacoma, WA

Kitsap Antique Show
Presidents Hall, Kitsap Fairgrounds Complex
May 11, Saturday 10am - 5pm
May, 12 Sunday 10am - 4pm
Admission $5
1200 NW Fairgrounds Rd
Bremerton, WA

Thurston County Flea Market
Thurston County Fairgrounds
May 17, Saturday 9am - 4pm
May, 18, Sunday 10am - 4pm
3054 Carpenter Rd SE
Olympia, WA

SSF Vintage Art in the Garden
Saturday, May 25,  
3225 W 7th Ave., Spokane

Shop ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ this weekend

Spring fever has been creeping up on us since late March, but Gladys Hanning and Celia Hanning Therens, the mother-daughter team behind Junebug Furniture and Design are willing to bet it will bloom this weekend. So the pair are holding a special spring home and garden show and sale—Down the Rabbit Hole—at Therens’ Dartford area home.

Therens moved to the 1940s era home last August and she’s been busy researching the history and stories behind the house since the move. But she was quick to suggest they invite a few friends to join them for a sale in the front garden.

“People are ready to decorate for spring and summer and they want to get out of the house and shop for vintage finds,” Therens adds. “We’re ready, too.”

With fourteen vendors joining the fun, and salads, cheeses, scones and other treats for hungry shoppers, the sale is the perfect way to welcome the spring shopping season to Spokane in the company of good friends and treasure hunters.

Vendors include:
All That Glitter
A Brush Stroke Away
Cary Burnett Photography
Iona's Antiques
Ladybird Creations
Paint in My Hair
Palouse Soap Company
Peace Within
Sisters Creed
Two Women Vintage Goods
Unexcpected Necessities
Whimisical Details

When: May 4, 2013
Time: 10am-4pm,
When: 412 West Hazard Road, Spokane, WA.

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About this blog

Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes about antiques and collectibles and the love of all things vintage. Millsap's Home Planet column appears each week in the Wednesday "Pinch" supplement, and she is The Spokesman-Review's female automobile reviewer. She is a regular contributor to Spokane Public Radio and her essays can be heard on Public Radio stations across the country. Cheryl-Anne is the author of "Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons."

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