The Things I Learned From my Mother’s Jewelry Box

Erin Pienta, Editor-in-Chief

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It seems to me, that even with the ability to have a world of knowledge at our fingertips, we are slowly losing the connection to our past. In this day and age, a quick Google search can reveal entire family history, but, we lose something with it. There are certain facts, lessons, memories that simply cannot be passed through a computer screen.  At times, the only way to really relive the past, it to touch the tangible things that belonged to those before us.  These are the things I learned from my mother jewelry box:

My dad once owned a “pim”p ring.  Now, before you think I’m kidding, I mean a full-blown, solid gold, huge ring reading “KJP,” my father’s initials. And if you’d think that a Polish geek going to Brother Rice would lack a little street cred: you’d be right. But, of course,  there was a story behind the larger than life ring.

My father’s parents were fresh off the boat immigrants from Poland, desperate to establish themselves as true Americans. Thinking that being American meant showing display of wealth, my father was told wear to the ring at all formal events. Arguments my father put up turned out to be pointless. This, as determined by my grandparents, was “the American” way.

While the ring seems beyond ridiculous to me now, it made me think. It threw me back into the past, thinking what it would be like through my grandparents eyes. They were proud, I believe. My grandfather, being a Holocaust survivor, liked his new found independence. He could get an education here. He could support his family. He could raise a generation of successful kids. This was his life now.

Google could’ve told me where my grandparents came from. After a more detailed search, the Internet could’ve told me some things about his new life in America. But nothing told me more than that thing. That pompous gaudy ring gave me a glimpse into the past that social media couldn’t.

The ring is now in a dusty box that sits in a corner of the basement. Most likely never to be worn again, the ring still holds a value and history to it that a Google search can’t fulfill. We can only, really, grasp onto our past if we are looking at it, holding it, and experiencing it. My mother’s jewelry box holds that history. Each piece has a story to tell and a life of it’s own.

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