Monday, May 2, 2011
I have a special friend whom I've known since I was six years old. Terri and I became acquainted when she went to kindergarten at El Centro School. I was a first grader, and Terri lived just a few blocks away. Her Mom and my Mom became friends, so Terri and I became friends too. Although Terri moved on to Holy Family School for the rest of her grade school years, we stayed friends throughout the rest of our years in South Pasadena schools. When she was married, I was a bridesmaid, and when I was married a few months later in 1978, she was one of my bridesmaids. She and her husband Cary gave Bruce and I a very memorable and unusual wedding present. We were so surprised to open our gift to discover an old wooden prototype steam valve from 1867. What a treasure! Why would Terri think to get me something so unique and memorable? I guess she knew even then, that I loved old things, and that something like that would be a conversation piece, and certain never to be exchanged or put in the back of a cupboard somewhere. Well, that wonderful piece was always on display everywhere we moved. From our first little cottage in Hollywood, to Rhode Island, two homes in Minnesota, to Western New York, and back to California, that wooden steam valve has come along with us. I've found photos from each of those houses, and you can spot the unique model sitting proudly, among my ever-growing collections of old things. I guess you might say that valve inspired much of the collecting I've done through the years. (click on the image for a closer view)
Two weeks ago when we had Amy's Open House, it was so nice to see Terri and Cary again. Seeing her reminded me that I needed to take that old wooden valve down from the shelf, dust it off, and take some pictures of it. So I did. Being the curious type, after shooting a dozen or so shots, I decided to find out a little more about the inventor of this marvelous contraption: William G. Pike, whose name was on the model, and on the patent card that came with it. Thanks to Ancestry.com, I was able to discover that he was born in 1820 in Maine, and that he lived in Philadelphia. He applied for another patent, this one also for a steam valve, a couple of years earlier. Perhaps this new model was an improvement upon his 1865 patent. I discovered his address in Philadelphia, and even went on Google Earth to see if the house was still there. It was, but it looks like the old home has gotten a bit rundown in the 150 years since he lived there.
Well, this story has gotten a bit long and boring, but I just wanted to create a little layout about the most unusual wedding present, and to thank Terri for her friendship, and for her thoughtful and creative gift 33 years ago!