Think Back Thursday…My Hope Chest

“Hope chest”…now there’s a phrase you don’t hear much anymore!  I wonder how many people even know what a “hope chest” is these days…I googled it, and it’s actually in the dictionary!

When I was a young girl, cedar chests were very popular.  Older people kept their special linens or clothing in cedar chests to protect them from moths.  In those days, young men would actually build cedar chests, or wardrobes(to hang clothes in) during one of their high school classes.  My husband built such a chest for his mother while he was in high school, and she still has special things stored in it after forty-five years!

In those days, young ladies would sometimes begin collecting household items in anticipation of marriage.  These same young ladies stored their special household items, such a linens or silver, in cedar chests to protect them.  Their cedar chests were called “hope chests”.

Many of you know that my husband and I became engaged just before my sixteenth birthday.  He was in the army, about to be deployed overseas for eighteen months, while I still had two years of high school left to finish.  It was a long engagement!

Not long after Ed left for Okinawa, I decided that I wanted start a “hope chest”.  I’ve always liked to “be prepared”, and it would give me something to do!  My family didn’t have one of those beautiful cedar chests, so I started out with a plain old cardboard box!  I kept it beside my bed, next to the wall. 

I remember the first item I bought was a set of stainless steel flatware–and I made payments on it!  After the stainless was paid for, I bought a set of melmac dishes!  Wow, there’s a blast from the past!  Who eats off melmac anymore?  Anyway, it was the early 70’s, and “flower power” was all the rage, along with melmac, and my set of dishes had this huge yellow daisy right in the middle of the plates!  I think they are hidious now, but back then I loved them!  I made payments on the dishes as well–to a mail order company known as Fingerhut–another blast from the past!

For Christmas, I asked for a set of “club aluminum” pots–in harvest gold, to match those yellow daisy plates!  I was so sure my kitchen was going to be harvest gold! ( It turned out to be white! )   As the months passed, my “hope chest” continued to grow!  It went from one cardboard box to several cardboard boxes!  By the time I got married, the “hope chest” had taken over one side of my bedroom!

I worked part-time during my last year of high school.  I used part of my salary to buy sheets, towels, and many other household items.  One Christmas, Ed sent me a set of Noritake china from Okinawa.  The following year, he sent a set of Noritake stainless to go with the china.  By the time Ed and I got married in 1972, we had pretty much everything that we needed to set up housekeeping!  I was proud of my “hope chest”, and I still have fond memories of it–apparently so does someone else!

The other day I saw a friend of mine from high school.  We spent many hours together while Ed was overseas.  She used to take photos of me, so I could send them to Ed. It was her wig that I was wearing in that old photo the other day.  Anyway, while we were talking, out of the blue, she mentioned my “hope chest”!  She said that she’d told her four daughters how I had collected everything that I needed by the time I got married.  I was surprised that she still remembered that after forty years!  I guess my “hope chest” made a lasting impression!

My blogiversary giveaway is still going on for a few more days.  It’s a giveaway of a dozen of my favorite things(socks, soap, candles,bath products, and more….)  Just leave me a comment if you’d like to be entered.  For more information about the giveaway, please click HERE.

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Published in: on March 24, 2011 at 8:19 am  Comments (7)  
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  1. I don’t think girls do this so much anymore. They do have ginormous showers though! It’s sweet to think of you saving your money to buy what you’d need for your lives together. I don’t think girls save so much anymore either. We’re pretty much a NOW kind of world. Sigh.

  2. I never had a hope chest but I do remember them. For a while our high school graduating girls got a small, Kleenex box size, Lane cedar hope chest replica, but that had stopped by the time I graduated. I suppose they hoped you would then go buy the big one. You were a woman ( well, girl) on a mission and your dream came true.

  3. My parents had one made for me for my 16th birthday. A friend of ours was a cabinet maker, so he made it. I still have it to this day. I didn’t use mine as useful as you did. I don’t remember what all was in mine when I did marry. Today it has the quilt my Grandmother made me for my 16th birthday, a quilt that my husband’s step-mom made him, and some clothes that are too little that I don’t want to part with.

  4. I didn’t have a hope chest but boy I wanted one! Reading your post brought back such memories! Cedar chests…Fingerhut….MELMAC!! Don’t tell anyone but I had a set of melmac in my cabinet up until just a few years ago!

  5. I have a cedar chest with a heart engraved on the front. My mom helped me fill it in high school.

  6. What a great post! You were a determined young lady who knew her own heart and prepared for a home with such love. Just a baby. I think you must still have that same determination . . . and enthusiasm and sense of fun!

  7. I never had one but I wanted one 😦
    I only had the little sample one they gave out when I was in school. I think it is a wonderful idea.


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