My mother's dream was to have a salt box house. She raised me to think one should have a dry sink and a pewter collection and a pencil post bed and such to keep house rightly. Her guide in everything was The American Home magazine, as we lived in the south far from the style of house mama wished for. She crocheted rag rugs and made ruffled curtains and watched for old ironstone or crocks to turn up at Goodwill where she was a faithful customer for years.
The time came when she knew she would never have her dream and so she turned to miniatures and much of the rest of her life lived in a doll house when not taking care of real life needs for her family. Mama made the salt box doll house herself, calling upon my stepfather sometimes to saw something. The chimney was quite a project. I remember helping hold it as we scored it with a screw driver to make "bricks". The floor was laid of a narrow old wooden blind. The shingles were cut of cork and put on one at a time.
She made many of the furnishings herself, using old drawer bottoms for thin wood. The tiny quilts were a marvel of handwork and eyesight! She saw everything in a different scale from the rest of us. Do you see the lamp shades of toothpaste lids? Tiny pea gravel became potatoes.
There were several dolls in the house, one a blond German china head doll named "Resurrection". Resurrection was a little head found in the Comanche city dump, picked up by a junk dealer back in the time when dealers in old iron and bottles and such picked through the dump for merchandise. I found her in a rusty tin coffee can in the dirt floor of a garage where his grandchildren had played with her. I surely left no stone unturned in my quest for antiques. I was in my 20's and living in west central Texas at that time. I purchased the little head for 75 cents and made a body for her and dressed her, then Mama claimed her for the doll house a few months later. From spring in the dump grounds to fall at the Texas State fair with a blue ribbon was a remarkable journey for Resurrection! Mama entered her little house in the fair in Dallas that October and of course it won all hearts.
At first the little salt box house was not as full as it was in later years, as Mama saw other things to add. The knickknacks were about half and half, commercial doll house findings and home made things. My stepfather carved a duck decoy to go on the mantel My brother and I made two ladder back chairs and I wove seats in them. I made the clay stoneware crocks for the salt box house years later and she added them. She made quite a number of room boxes, several complete houses and at least two country stores.
We have not kept all of them, they are cumbersome to care for. But my daughter Beth has three of the nicest ones including the red saltbox. A small closet is devoted to them and there is lighting and Plexiglas for them.
Sometimes the closet door is opened and my mother's great great grandchildren get to gaze in wonder. My mother, called Nanny to her grandchildren, is still much in our hearts and minds as many of the family sayings which we banter back and forth are hers.