Thursday, June 25, 2009

Please Keep These Things

Part 2 of the series “My Dear Daughters: When I am Dead and Gone, Please Keep These Things”

An old-fashioned hand beater. Why keep it?

Well, for one thing, it’s old. It belonged to my husband’s paternal grandmother, Rose Terrana Koehl. For people of our generation, with our 50+ years of life and perspective, our grandparents’ lives are not exactly ancient history (though it might have seemed that way when we were younger). For our children, however, this is their great-grandparents’ generation, and that does make it something more of a historical artifact as well as a cherished family possession. With the possible exception of photographs, this is probably as far back in history as my husband and I have any hopes of going in terms of passing on actual physical items to our children.

And this beater has a history. You see, it’s not actually a beater. It’s a helicopter. Or at least it was to my husband when he was very young. Perhaps it was the whirring noise it made? So when Grandma Rose died a few years ago, the beater was not disposed of; my husband’s parents wisely passed it on to my husband.

I have not placed the beater in any sort of protective covering or box or put it away in special storage. It is in one of the drawers in which we keep kitchen utensils. And who knows, if the other beater on my hand mixer fails or we do not replace our wheezing KitchenAid, it may still see some use.

By the way, the beater was not my husband’s only helicopter when he was little. The other one was at the home of his maternal grandmother, Julia D’Arco Greenberg. That helicopter was disguised as a sewing machine treadle.


  1. Another walk down memory lane for me! I should post my Mom's hand cranking flour sifter as it would be the companion piece for your beater. Speaking of beating....way back in "pioneer days" when I was young...the 1950's ;-) I can remember my grandfather not beating the mashed potatoes, but mashing them with a potato masher and then mashing in the salt, pepper, butter and milk. I LOVE THIS BLOG!!!

  2. We still use potato mashers, husband does not like whipped tatters, he wants em with hunks of tatter in there. Just 2 years ago found some great new mashers, one for the RV and one for the house. These are the cadillac of mashers. Nice blog, nice memories, new and old.

  3. Many thanks to both of you for your kind comments. When I learned to mash potatoes from my Aunt Joy, sure enough, I had to learn to make them just the way you have described - just the masher, so as to leave them with some "substance and texture," because that was the way that my Uncle Howard loved them.

  4. This brings to memory other kitchen utensils that we have inherited from our grandmothers, or others. Utensils can tell family stories if we listen. Thank you for reminding us.

  5. Another of those tangible memories! Thanks Greta for your wonderful post about a utensil that many of us 50+ (or in my case 60+) year-olds have in our kitchen cabinet. My grandmother used one as well, but it is long gone. But we do have my husband's grndmother's. It has a beautiful pink handle. I love it. And I really like your series of "Please Keep These Things!"

  6. Hi, Judith! I love the idea of a beater with a pink handle; it conjures up images of whipping egg whites in style. Every time I take this beater out when my husband is there, he cannot resist playing with it. Some people just never grow up! And thanks for your appreciation of this series; I'm really enjoying writing it.