So, the past few years my grandmother (via my aunt with whom she lives) has been sending family things for Christmas presents. This year I got a wonderful box full of many random things including a set of table linens that once belonged to Kate Dolly.
Kate Dolly’s mother and my great-great-grandmother were sisters. Kate’s mother moved to St. Louis and married Thomas Dolly, and my great-great-grandmother went on a blind date (in her sister’s stead) and married Charles Plamondon, had five children, and died on the Lusitania. Somehow, most of “Aunt Kate’s” stuff wound up back in Leland, on the farm from which the two sisters originated. (A farm, by the way, that Mary and “Big Kate” fought for the right to inherit. When their father left it to them, their male cousins, who their father had paid passage for from Ireland, sued them because “girls” couldn’t inherit property. They took it to the Illinois State Supreme Court and won. And they guy who painted my house here in Montana three summers ago — he’s descended from those men who tried to steal our farm. Small world.)
Anyhow, I inherited all these lovely table linens. White damask, with Kate Dolly’s monogram embroidered on the napkins. The napkins are probably two and a half feet square. They’re enormous. They’re meant for huge Victorian robber barons. They make me giggle they’re so outrageous. All these lovely linens arrived and I washed them, worked the ancient wine stain out of the tablecloth, hung them on the line, and ironed them. Some old friends have arrived in town and I think perhaps this weekend it’s time to thaw a leg of lamb, put the leaf in the table, and set it with Kate Dolly’s linens. Linens that have survived a century of dinner parties. Things should be used, and I love that these are well used, and have endured.