When I visited Naples, Florida recently, I helped my mom pack some family treasures and made some discoveries along the way. First and foremost, my mom showed me our family bible from her side of the family. It came with her grandparents all the way from England on the boat, and eventually made its way to Isabella County in mid-Michigan, to a small town called Mt. Pleasant, where I was born.
My grandma, Harriett Pitkin Audlin, was born on January 1, 1875. Believe me, she wasn't wild about the middle name "Pitkin", and we aren't really sure where it came from, either! Also, note below where it says "One child died an infant June 1881". I'm surprised that only happened once. Infant mortality was very high back then.
A beautiful chromolithograph marriage certificate:
And the inevitable deaths of the older folks....
Then, an amazing discovery! My grandma was born in this log cabin! I'd never seen this picture before. And for my friends familiar with the Mt. Pleasant area, this was near Riverwood Golf course:
After growing up in a log cabin, my grandma was no stranger to roughing it! As a newlywed, she and my grandpa lived in a tent when my grandpa worked building the new highways in Florida:
My grandparents returned from Florida and decided to start a business together. No longer a teacher, my grandma became an entrepreneur and never looked back!
My mom graduated from Central Michigan College in Mt. Pleasant too, and also became a teacher. That's my mom on the right, with the black hair:
She began to weary of the teacher's life, and after the antique-collecting bug bit her, she and my dad started an antique shop in part of our house. Realizing that a creative outlet was the way to go, a full blown downtown store was the next step. She and my dad set up The Mole Hole, which was a huge success in Mt. Pleasant. She went from teacher to business owner just like my grandma.
A dear friend, Jack Harris, called in 1979 with an offer my parents couldn't refuse: a store of his called the Wind in the Willows was up for sale in Naples, Florida, and he wanted to sell it to my parents. They bought it, and loved their new life in beautiful Naples!
If only my grandma could see the beautiful home her daughter (my mom) has lived in for the last 15 years! What a luxury, compared to a log cabin and a tent...
Now my mom is still in business at age 85, selling her antiques at Up for Grabs, an upscale consignment shop on US 41 in Naples. She also works there once in a while, usually at Up for Grabs Too, the expansion store two doors down. Stop by and say "hello" if you are in Naples!
I've told my early story before, for those of you that are interested. Here's one of few pictures I have with all three generations: my grandma, mom, and me at Christmas with my grandpa and my brother Mike. I got my Christmas wish, Winnie the Pooh and Piglet!
I used to live above the Mole Hole, which was an awesome downtown penthouse. But I've had my share of apartment living, once above a garage, and another that had a constant parade of roaches. I didn't handle that well at all!
This is my home now:
Just like my grandma and my mom, I attended Central Michigan University and obtained a degree in education, although I was never a teacher. I became a school psychologist, but I ended up working in the elementary schools just like they did. My career spanned 27 years, but eventually I needed to pursue another dream and I retired early to run my antique business full time.
I'm sure people think I need my head examined for leaving a job that had such great hours, summers off, and other perks. Now I work seven days a week, starting at 4:00 a.m.! Not really from necessity, more from excitement and enthusiasm than anything. I just love what I do, that's all!
Do you share a special legacy with the women or men in your family? I'd love to hear about it!