Nancy Roman

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things (Part One)

We’ve all had the discussion.

Sometimes spurred by a TV show, or an article in a magazine. Most likely, though, after several beers at the local bar.

What would you save if your house was on fire?

First let’s eliminate the obvious.

OF COURSE, I would save my little pets.

And my family photo albums.

And probably my spouse. Yeah.  Definitely my spouse. Of course. Yeah. My spouse.

So let’s assume those precious things are all safe.

Then it’s a matter of deciding what are my most meaningful possessions.

I made a little game of this question as I cleaned the house this weekend. I looked at all my things – the dust-worthy and the usually forgotten – with an eye for how much they mean to me and how irreplaceable they are.

I set myself some little rules. 5 items max. Two trips only. And only 1 can be a big item. My husband (who I am going to save. of course. right?) can help me carry the one big thing. Then the other stuff has to be carried out at one time by me in my second trip.

So here’s my Big Thing:


My sofa. And if you look, you can see my reflection in the picture above. Which is fitting.

My sofa.

I have had this sofa for more than thirty years.

You could say I inherited it.

My maternal grandfather was an immigrant from Poland. Dziadzi (“Ja-jee” – Grandpa in Polish) struggled all his life to support his family. He left Poland at 17, and lived for a while in Baltimore and Pittsburgh before settling in the Polish enclave in New Britain Connecticut. He and my grandmother and their two daughters lived in a cold-water third-floor one-bedroom apartment. He barely survived the depression, as someone who wanted his WPA job nearly killed him for it.

He didn’t have an easy or a particularly happy life. But he loved his family. He used to make me a little mouse out of his handkerchief, and sixty years later, I still know how to fold a cloth into a mouse.

He never had a car. He did get a television around 1962. He liked Walter Cronkite.

When he died at 88, he didn’t have much to show for his life. Except of course for two amazing intelligent and warm-hearted daughters and seven genius grandchildren (and yes, I am including myself… I am proud of those genes.)

But possessions? None.

Bank account? Miniscule.

When my mother settled up all the bills and final expenses, she divided the little money Dziadzi had left among her and her sister, and the grandchildren. Nine shares total.

What was our take? $300 each.  Eighty-years on this earth and my grandfather had less than $3,000.

Well, it’s easy to spend $300. I could easily have blown it at one time on something trivial. But I wanted something that would last. Something to show for my Grandfather’s life.

Not long after his death I happened upon a yard sale. An old woman was moving from her large house to a small apartment, and she was selling her beautiful things. And there on the lawn was this lovely antique camelback sofa. For $300.

My Grandfather gave me this sofa.

I would never part with it.



(Next Up: My other four choices)


  1. nice couch, lovely story


    • Thanks. I have to admit is is not very comfortable, but I love it anyway.


  2. Deb

    What a lovely way to honor grandpa and all that he stood for. This couch would look lovely in my fictitious Victorian home upon the hill with the white picket fence…


    • Thanks. I have an old victrola in that room too…. they go well together.


  3. Beautiful story and couch.


  4. Chris

    This was Ellen’s neighbor and I remember this – you were there early to help and was able to get this for $300.


    • That’s right. Ellen and her boyfriend helped me get it home. It weighs like 700 pounds – maybe 7,000 pounds. I miss Ellen. She died two years ago.


  5. Love this! The handkerchief mouse made me smile.
    (And my mother had much less than that when she died at 85.)


    • But it didn’t matter did it? I loved going to my grandparents’ apartment, and didn’t really see until I was much older how shabby it was. There was no bathroom – just a toilet down the hall, not hot water – you had to heat water on the stove to wash with, only the kitchen was heated, and of course it was sweltering in the summer. I didn’t care one bit.


  6. I have a highboy from my parents. It’s not particularly good furniture but I have lugged it from place to place and wouldn’t be without it. In thinking of your exercise, I am not sure I would get to any valuables. It would take numerous trips to get my cats out of the house and I am not sure I could get the scaredy cat out at all. Fortunately for my husband, he could get himself out and maybe grab a cat on the way.


    • I am allowing myself as many trips as necessary for the cats. But I am hoping that my husband will have better luck saving them. They all hate me.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. My Polish father used to make mice out of handkerchiefs too, and I’d completely forgotten about it until I read this. Thank you Nancy – if we ever meet, please show me how to do it…


  8. My sofa isn’t very comfy either…but neither is it as gorgeous as yours…so basically it has no redeeming value. It won’t be saved! 🙂


    • I have lots of things that I wouldn’t trouble myself to save. In fact, a lot more of those disposable items than precious ones.


  9. Love the sofa. Love the story, and of course, your grandpa. ❤


    • My grandfather was far from perfect, but he created my mother, and he did the best he could for us all. For me, he’s worth remembering.


  10. Love the story, Nancy. I admit at the start I’m like sofa? She woukd save a piece of furniture? But now I totally get it.


    • It’s just the only tangible thing I have from my grandfather.


  11. What a beautiful sofa, and a wonderful story. I wouldn’t part with it, either.


  12. Karron

    Lovely sofa. Isn’t it strange the things we find so meaningful that we would save them even in peril to ourselves? I have an old fashioned spatula made out of pot metal. My granddad made it for my grandmother when they were building their cabin in the wilds of Oklahoma in 1928. They lived in that cabin until 1970, never had an indoor toilet, barely had electricity, and never had a television – only the radio that sat on a shelf above the door. Anyway, when Grannie cooked a meal, that spatula was always in use. One day it got used to spank my behind for lying (I did NOT sneak the eggs out of the chicken house, just to be clear on that. My sister did. The brat.) But, when I think of Grannie, I think of her always cooking, and I always remember her with that spatula in her hand.

    When she passed away, everyone wanted her rocking chair, and granddads fiddle. But I wanted the spatula and granddad’s razor strop. (Only time granddad every spanked me was with that strop…. but I deserved it. No, I won’t say why. But I hate the smell of booze to this day.) Every morning my granddad used that strop before he shaved. It was something he held every single day.

    Those things are precious to me. Even if they are things others would have thrown away.


    • With me, I have my grandmother’s (on my father’s side) beanpot. I love that pot, and when my mother gave it to my sister, I actually asked my sister to let me have it instead. And she did. What a great sister!


  13. Lovely sofa. It looks in beautiful shape after all these years and what great memories. I don’t blame you for not wanting to part with it.


    • It shows some wear…. especially because we had a cat years ago who loved it too.


  14. Touching tribute. And the sofa…..I can totally understand. I have a very old premium saltine tin from my mother. I can’t for the life of me understand why I still have it. But for some reason, it reminds me of her.


    • My grandfather never even saw this sofa, but I still think of him when I see it.



  1. My Favorite Things (Part 2) | notquiteold

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