Treasured



Fable and the flower fairies

Archer explores the upper garden


... ... ...

Saturday night we had dinner with my grandmother and some of her friends at her home in Del Mar where she's lived since forever and over the years has accumulated some incredible architectural artifacts c/o Frank Lloyd Wright and his son John Lloyd Wright (who was married to my grandfather's mother, Frances.)

John Lloyd Wright, who built my Nana's (and mother's childhood) home, invented Lincoln Logs and sold the patent for a measly $800 to Playskool. (Bah!) Robbed blind, the toy went on to be the most popular and beloved toy of its time (and all time, arguably) and not a penny of its worth was seen by John or his family. A heartbreaking story for a man who lived his life in his father's shadow, never fully able to step outside.

To follow, John started over, this time with a much more ambitious block - a wooden (pre lego?) intricately carved specifically for castle-building! He patented it and tried to sell it himself but was unable to. They were far too intricate a design and too expensive to make.


The blocks sat in their first/only edition boxes, archived and stowed away except for a great big open-to-all box that lived in my grandparents' closet, making cameos during dinner parties with my mother and aunt's Barbie dolls and Breyer horse collection.

My cousins, siblings and I spent hours in our dresses on the floor, building worlds of our own, unaware of the significance of what we were building with until we were much older.


The other night, my Nana dusted off the old box of Wright blocks and Archer (as well as all the rest of us dinner--party goers) spent the evening on hands and knees building castles. Eighty years between builders young and old.


And then, wedged somewhere in the bin, the old patent stamp, hand-carved and long lost. It said:

John Lloyd Wright, inventor of Lincoln Logs presents:
"Wright Blocks"


Amazing, the kinds of artifacts found over the years in my Nana's closet. It's like digging for treasure in the dust bunnies of lost decades. Except you don't even have to really dig and somehow, never a dust mote in sight.

Afterward, my Nana brought out an old album - a collection of photographs and letters and old sketches - brilliance. Archer was fascinated. He sat down next to my Nana, his great-grandmother, and listened as she wove tails and introduced his saucer eyes to sepia photographs of his great-great-great- grandparents.

"And this was your great-great-great grandmother, Lady Hattie! She built the very first birth-control center in Yorkshire, England, and her husband, Sir George - he was a knight!"

Which just about blew his mind. "Whoa! A good knight?"

And mine. "Whoa! The first birth control center?"

I am consistently blown away every day I spend at my grandmother's home - by the people and places who have passed through - the hands that built its very foundation - the courage and creativity of those that came and went, the stories left behind in letters and drawings and beautiful eighty-years-young matriarchs.

What a tremendous responsibility to carry on the legacy and how lucky to be at the receiving end of such tremendous tales.


I am in awe of these people I am privileged to call family. It blows my mind sometimes how inspired I am just by waking up and high-fiving their ghosts.

Archer and Fable play with fairies in the "great-grandchildren garden" my Nana built just for them.

(So lucky.)

GGC

*My Nana's new book hits stores this week! The updated version of her (Southern California) gardener's classic is all-organic, including new ways to protect your plants without using pesticides harmful to the earth. Go, Nana!

**Congratulations to my cousin Jordan, and the producers of Under Our Skin (a documentary about the Lyme disease epidemic and a Health Care system that shamefully ignores Lyme disease and its victims) for making the short list for possible Oscar nom! Much deserved for a VERY important film! Trailer, here.

40 comments:

Tracy | 7:48 AM

Beautiful post, Rebecca. Have long been a admirer of F. Lloyd Wright and of course, of Lincoln Logs...I mean, who hasn't??!!! (oh, and Fable's clothes are just lovely, as are yours...)

hand.pecked | 7:56 AM

Wow, I ws trained as an architect so I'm totally going OMG OMG OMG over your pictures! You are surrounded by such cool people!

Amie | 8:03 AM

Rebecca, those photos are magical! And your family is a treasure. Thanks for sharing.

Marie-Ève | 8:16 AM

Amazing! (I'm a little speechless). To me at least, this is American royalty...

Although in no way as cool as this, my in-laws have a gigantic attic full of old such treasures (like 90-year old metal toy trucks in good shape and a toy train village my father-in-law inherited from his dad), and I am loving that my son gets to play with them.

Mommy Lisa | 8:25 AM

THAT is truly awesome. I love being able to share my grandmother with my daughter as well, this hits home for me. My grandma is 96 and actually went to college! Quite an accomplishment to go AND graduate in her day for a woman.

We drive to visit her on Friday morning!

Nothing so magical as the Wright family, but we all have something to be proud of in our families.

Leball | 8:30 AM

OMG! This is awesome. I have seen some of Under Our Skin. I worked for a naturopathic doctors office in Scottsdale. We treated alot of people with Lyme disease, and one of the patients had a private screening for everyone. Amazing! What a small world!

And my boyfriend loves your great grandfathers invention! Loves!

leel | 8:35 AM

wow wow wow.
the pictures alone reeled me in, but the accompanying story kept me reading, as usual.
ive been following along quietly for a few months now; i love your blog. i can relate to a lot you talk about, former lives, where they went, the past and the boys that went with them.
but this post OMG. The Wright Blocks printers block made me well up a little. The history you have at your fingertips, still alive and thriving and sharing, is what i really envy, i think. The fact that i have a little Frank Lloyd Wright book on my own coffee table made me so excited; the fact that i have bought lincoln logs for friends children blows my mind. They were my choice over Lego any day as kid. I can still remember the smell and feel of the logs and the roofslats, the little chimney, as i build little homes and barns all the livelong day. So much quieter than Lego. Sturdier. Ill always associate them with you and your family now! So, thanks for sharing that little tidbit with us.
Hugs to all,
Leel

ps. loving your new fashion themes too!

Jasie VanGesen | 9:22 AM

There's so much awesome going on in this post that it's hard for me to fully wrap my head around it.

Sarcastica | 9:27 AM

This post is amazing; the photos are so breathtaking! I love Fable with the fairies, and Archer in the garden...so gorgeous!

You're family has a lot of history!

Summertime | 9:47 AM

So much amazingness in this post but I cannot get over that fairy garden! So cool. I would have moved right in as a kid and basically would have never left.

Stef | 9:47 AM

I just had to comment, Rebecca, that your mom looks so beautiful! I don't think I have seen a pic of her since her hair transition. I didn't recognize her at first.

I am also so jealous of that lovely, enchanted garden. Your family is amazing.

Kim Hosey | 9:50 AM

Beautiful, beautiful post and story ... and I love the pictures, especially Fables expressions in the first four. Wow. Lovely, in every way.

Cass | 10:08 AM

That third photo of Fable is probably one of my favorites you've ever posted. Too perfect.

I loved this post not only for all the history but for how you're making sure Archer & Fable know their g. grandparents. Those are some of my favorite memories (w/my family) & I hope they have the same.

mountain.mama | 10:25 AM

All the historical stuff is cool but OMG I love Fable in the fairy garden. I might have to make one of those. I agree with Summertime, would have moved in and never left as a kid.

Amy | 12:56 PM

'Nostalgia?' I would label this one 'Thanksgiving' too! What a beautiful family and such an interesting history. So many branches on your tree. Personally, I think this has the makings of an excellent creative non-fiction article, the likes of which I would read in The New yorker. All the best to you.

P.S. The photos of Fable are magical. They evoke secret, hidden worlds. Nicely done.

Sharnanigans | 2:38 PM

lovely!
Oh, I have awarded you an award...
http://chroniclesofsharnia-sharnanigans.blogspot.com/2009/11/i-was-trying-to-quit-my-sugar-addiction.html

Renee | 3:15 PM

What a wonderful family story.

Allison the Meep | 6:01 PM

Badassery runs in your family, and courses through your veins.

Amie Simmons | 6:44 PM

A M A Z I N G. I want to be part of your family. What I would have done for a fairy garden that age or now for that matter. And those castle building logs! I need those too.

Amie Simmons | 6:46 PM

p.s. if I lived in southern CA or anyway near, I would buy your nana's book.

Edwina | 7:37 PM

Gorgeous fairy pics!

Meemo | 10:18 PM

What a legacy! And to think that someday, you will be the matriarch.
I love Gammage Auditorium at ASU and think of how much of a privelege it must be to have a Wright house in your family history.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Desiree Fawn | 10:49 PM

oh gosh, what a sweet little garden!

spicylikeginger | 11:27 PM

Indeed, there is much talent in your family. I am happy I got to get to know them a bit. I remember that story about the Lincoln Logs. Very cool to hear about the birth control center, and the knight! And - shudder - Lyme disease is super scary. Check for ticks, people!! I am excited that the film is nominated for an Oscar! I'll have to keep my eye out for the DVD. And ps - I like Jordan's new book cover way better than the first one! :)

Ray | 8:42 AM

Wow! You have an amazing family Rebecca. First birth control center? Crazy. A knight? So cool. And childhood toys? Beautiful. Such wicked history you have there. They have to add a writer among there: You. And your grandmother. If I ever have a garden of my own, I'll have to pick up her book. And what a gorgeous garden your grandmother has. I absolutely LOVE it! Along with the fairies placed there so sweetly. Gorgeous photos. Thanks for sharing. ;o)

Jen | 12:37 PM

OMG, you look EXACTLY like your Nana!!

Alyxherself | 7:41 AM

Got a forward from Eckerd College about an upcomming show, once I listened to it and checked out some of the ladies individual sites it struck me that you might like this, especially SJ:

www.travelingfates.com

Schmutzie | 9:35 AM

This weblog is being featured on Five Star Friday - http://www.fivestarfriday.com/2009/11/five-star-fridays-edition-81.html

mommymae | 11:46 AM

you are one truly lucky lady.

Anonymous | 12:13 PM

WWW.HaynesHouseLLC.com

meredyth | 2:16 PM

wow. If I had that garden as a kid my mind would have been BLOWN. I was fascinated by that world as a child and was always seeking out areas I thought could possibly be fairy circles. I still keep an eye out for them. The story of your family is pretty amazing as well. What a great Thanksgiving tradition.

Maggie May | 3:23 PM

Yes for fairies

Yes for FLR

Yes for visiting

Yes for Del Mar- I live 20 minutes away!

What a wonderful world for Fable and Archer to explore. I am making a fairy playarea in a small patch in our front yard for Lola. I'm using colored sand, fairies, mushrooms (play ones) and etc from Magic Cabin partly. I will be doing a post on it at some point, I'm so excited for Lola Moon!

Happy Thanksgiving, thanks for making a rocking blog.

SRB | 6:03 PM

Thanks for the Lyme disease doc link. My boyfriend's two sisters have both been diagnosed in the last few years and are on heavy meds for it.
Thanks!

mrs.notouching | 8:16 PM

Your mom looks fantastic! And just love all fairy pictures - Fable's expressions are priceless!

Christine | 9:02 PM

I love your blog. I read it constantly when I was pregnant with my daughter, then I had her and I was unable to keep up with it. Well now she naps and I want to catch up, but for the life of me, I cannot find your rss feed address so that I can read it though outlook. Can anyone tell me what it is?

Bella | 2:18 AM

OMG the fairies! The garden, the grandmother, the family, family, family! And so much BEAUTY! In everything... One of the most amazing things about reading your blog is how CLEARLY thankful and amazed by your OWN family you are. You don't seem to take any of it for granted.

Pretty kick-ass inspiring, I'd say.

Mom101 | 8:44 PM

Isn't it cool when we've got people we're proud to call kin? (Not including those gorgeous children of yours.)

I love those blocks. My kids play with their Papa's blocks from the 40s which I adore, but they're not quite Frank Lloyd Wright. More like "Here, I chopped you some blocks outside." Still cool.

Amy | 12:15 AM

Wow, that was such a cool story! Thanks for sharing.

ZDub | 1:48 PM

This story is fantastic, thanks for sharing.

Not Afraid to Use It | 9:03 AM

I've come via Five Star Friday. Thank you for sharing this story with us. You do indeed have have an amazing family. I love the high-five ghosts comment.