Estate auction offering brings back memories and life lessons

Toni Rahn

Nostalgia is such a significant and universal aspect of being a collector, but as I grow older I’m reminded of that more and more each day. Today’s reminder of that came courtesy of Teel Auction Service out of Montalba, Texas.

This weekend, March 15-17,2013, Teel Auction Service puts the last of five estates of John and Darlen Cumby up for sale, and as the folks at Teel so eloquently said about the couple and the sale: Avid collectors of early American antiques for their entire lives, this auction is filled with unique and hard to find items.

I found the variety of items included in this auction fostered an impromptu and enjoyable trip down the memory lane of my childhood. Which by its very nature, having been a pretty enjoyable childhood all in all, makes me one of the fortunate ones, because I know not everyone can say that about their childhood.

Little red painted bucket (Photo courtesy Teel Auction Services)

Little red bucket (Photo courtesy Teel Auction Services)

Of the hundreds and hundreds of lots slated for sale, which include 17th, 18th, 19th century furniture, fine class and china, lamps, serving pieces, cast iron, oils and prints, sterling silver pieces, candelabras, handblown glass pieces, rugs, books, and more, one item in particular caught my eye. While this single wooden piece may not boast bright and brilliant colors or eye-catching shine, sheen or shape, its nostalgic value caught my heart and soul.

It is labeled simply as a little red painted bucket – short, simple and to the point. Which is exactly like the woman this little bucket reminds me of, my grandmother Ann (Kelly) Pape. She was short in stature (just like the bucket) but not in temper, she enjoyed the simple things in life and felt it best to keep things simple, because she’d say (and I paraphrase here) challenges and drama will find you just fine without you seeking them out. Finally, she got to the point of things without making you feel like she was rushing you to get to the end of whatever you were doing or talking about.

My grandmother would have liked this bucket for many reasons. Before she suffered a stroke she would have loved to use it out in the barn, and in the garden. That little Irish lady did not enjoy staying indoors and being responsible only for keeping the home – she liked being in the barn and providing a helping hand to my grandfather working in the field. Now, that’s not to say what she would have used the bucket for would be what it was designed for, but us Irish folks use what we have, to do what we must – because life doesn’t slow down because you don’t have the right bucket.

In any event, this little red bucket would have come in handy for many things – carrying water or feed to the animals, serving as a milk pail when the metal one was in use, or perhaps bringing out leftovers as slop for the pigs. Of course it would not be not used for all these things, but would be options she’d consider before finding the thing the little red bucket was best suited for. Now if grandma were to cross the driveway, with bucket in hand, from the barn to her glorious garden, she would have used it to hold the items she picked – everything from onions and potatoes to peas, beans, strawberries, and raspberries too. Not to mention the occasional weed she’d find growing between the rows – occasional mind you, because weeds had no place in her garden.

Circa mid-1950s, grandma Ann (Kelly) Pape, second from left, surrounded by her family, including my mom Patricia, pictured on the far right. (Photo courtesy Antoinette (Toni) Rahn)

Circa mid-1950s, grandma Ann (Kelly) Pape, second from left, surrounded by her family, including my mom Patricia, pictured on the far right. (Photo courtesy Antoinette (Toni) Rahn)

So, if she were here today I think I’d bid on the little red bucket in order to give it to my grandma along with my thanks for the life lessons she taught me and my other family members over the years, which includes: Doing your best whatever job/task/activity you’re doing; taking each day as it comes and not spending more time worrying about tomorrow than appreciating today; taking time to show those around you how much they mean to you before there isn’t time to do that; making sure you add music to any chore – it makes the time go by faster and it’s free entertainment; and finally, be sure that for every one berry you eat while you pick, you put two in the bucket to share with others, so everyone has something to enjoy.

Stop by Teel Auction Services at to learn more about the March 15-17 John and Darlen Cumby estate auction, and to see what items connect with you and reconnect you to memories of the past.

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