At Christmas this year, I was the unbelievably fortunate recipient of a pair of pearl earrings from my grandfather-in-law, Grandpa Walt. They are stunningly gorgeous, but the part that I love most is the story of how these pearl earrings came to be.
After Walt received our thank you card, he gave me a call, because he wanted to make sure I got the story behind these earrings directly from him.
According to Grandpa Walt…
His late wife’s Aunt Florence (who’s grandmother’s last name was Grimm!) was a professional dancer. Just before World War II, she was on a world tour with her dance company. Their last performance was in Australia, and on their trip back to Honolulu, their ship broke down and needed immediate repairs. They put out a call for help and the Japanese government answered. They were allowed to dock the ship in the Japanese harbor for repairs but specified that under NO circumstances was anyone to leave the ship. Remember, this was just prior to WWII, so tensions between the US and Japan were high.
Apparently Great Aunt Florence was a bit of a rebel, because she and one of her girlfriends snuck of the ship and gave themselves a self-led tour through one of Japan’s port cities. During this shore-leave is when it’s believed she purchased a handful of loose, natural pearls.
She managed to make it back onboard the ship without incident and traveled safely back to Honolulu.
Shortly after their return, the bombing at Pearl Harbor took place. The story goes that she grabbed her video camera and filmed the Japanese planes flying overhead, but her camera was confiscated by the military.
Not to be deterred, Great Aunt Florence had stories about the relief efforts she participated in after the bombings, including but not limited to, wearing a diving suit to retrieve bodies from the water, and setting up a food stand to help feed and hydrate rescue workers.
Through the tragedy at Pearl Harbor and for many, MANY years after that, these pearls survived. They were handed down to Florence’s niece, Walt’s wife, Virginia. And just over 10 years ago, she made two of the pearls into a beautiful pair of earrings, which have found a loving home in my jewelry box and have quickly become my favorite pair of earrings.
I thought the pearls were beautiful from the moment I saw them, but hearing this story and learning their history, makes them absolutely priceless!
As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to value objects that have a story behind them. Matt and I have made it a priority to fill our home with furniture and decor that is not only beautifully designed, but also has history and a story to tell. Do you have any favorite “things” in your life with a story behind them? I’d love to hear about it!