Saturday, May 28, 2011

Hope Chests to Dream On

The days of young girls longing for their future husband to come along and make their lives complete (as soon as legally possible) are deservedly long gone. Girls have more to dream on based on their own merits than the completion of their lives by a man (more likely, a boy!) than our foremothers did. But... what about hope chests? Why'd we stop doing that?

The thing is, kids still grow up and move out of their parents' home. At that point, even if it's at 18 and going off to a college dorm room, there are things needed: sheets, plates, glasses, cups, towels, cutlery, napkins, pots and pans, etc. What happened to collecting these things over the years, getting them as gifts, making them, inheriting them? And the perfect place to keep all these things of impending adulthood? A cedar chest, of course.

This is an ad from my May 13, 1940, Life magazine. Here, actress Deanna Durbin, who was 18 years old at this time, advertises Lane Cedar Hope Chests. The ad proclaims, "When Deanna Durbin, that wisp of a girl who has won the hearts of all America, starts her hope chest, it's news that everybody will love to hear." Of course, this means she is on the market for a husband. Interestingly, she did marry just a year later...and then two more times over the next decade! In 1950, Durbin married for the third and final time, and was married to that husband for 48 years, until his death in 1999. She also turned her back on Hollywood in the late 1940s, which, perhaps, goes hand in hand. She is still living, by the way, maintaining her privacy still. And good for her.

But back to the idea of the hope chest. My mother was of this generation, and had mentioned the idea of hope chests to me when I was a girl. I wanted one so badly, but never got one. I'm determined to get one each for my daughters for their 16th birthdays. It's an old fashioned idea that certainly can be brought up to date. At that point we will also start collecting nice things for their future homes so that they can begin adulthood with nice things and few trips to the box stores for junk.

Lane is still in business, and still makes cedar chests...and still calls them hope chests. Of course, they costs a bit more that the $37.50 quoted in Durbin's day! This one:

rings up at a whopping $799 on the Lane Furniture Web site. Oh well, I've got a few years yet! So what do you think about hope chests in the modern day? Why did we stop doing that?


  1. I love the idea of updating the concept of the hope chest to be practical for today's generation. But there will always be a part of me that still loves the old concept, I must admit. ;)