An Insignificant Piece of Personal Significance

cribPictured at left is the antique crib in which I slept until I was six months old or so. (I’m guessing – but that’s the age at which most of my friends’ babies could roll over and begin to pull themselves up; I can only assume my mother wouldn’t have knowingly left me in what would at that point be a death trap…though perhaps she at times wished she had.)

The crib is in my study/shop, and it’s taking up valuable storage space (look closely and you’ll see the brad nailer “stored” next to my poor, decrepit teddy bear). It sits exactly where I want to put my tool chest, which would fit perfectly. But there’s no other room in my house in which the crib makes sense or can fit (actually, it doesn’t make sense where it is, either), and because of the tight turn and narrow stairs up to my third floor, I can’t move it to my “room where all things go to die” (500+ CDs of which I can’t seem to divest myself, an old, non-functional sewing machine, two Victorian chairs I’ve been hauling around and not using for 24 years…).

I asked my mom if she wanted the crib back, but she has even less room than do I for another piece of furniture. I’ve tried to sell it on Craigslist as a decorative item, but found no takers.

It’s in need of repairs: the two of the fretwork panels are loose, the headboard moulding lifts right off, two legs are a bit bockety…. Plus the latches on the front panel are a joke (there’s a backup hook-and-eye closure…because sharp bits are awesome in cribs). There is no way I’d put a kid in this thing; I’m pretty sure it would be considered child endangerment under today’s statutes. I use it for storing blankets (on which my cats like to sleep, so the blankets have to be washed before I can use them on the guest beds). So basically, my baby crib now serves as an ineffectual blanket chest that holds little, protects nothing and takes up a lot of much-needed space.

So I’m thinking of breaking it up for parts (or just cutting off the posts so I can maneuver it up to the third floor – just because I feel as though I should keep it). If I cut it apart entirely, I could incorporate the fretwork panels into the doors of an as-yet-to-be-designed cabinet. The headboard could…hang on the wall? The turnings could become the legs of a bedside table. But will they? And would I regret cutting up this antique piece that has been with me since literally days after I was born? And if I do, will the parts end up on the third floor, never to be used? This crib is nothing special – but it feels as if it ought to be.

What would you do?

— Megan Fitzpatrick

65 thoughts on “An Insignificant Piece of Personal Significance

  1. RustieRock

    I would keep it and fix it so it would be safe. A crib pad that goes around the inside for padding, and ties to the side and end post would make it useable. And maybe one day, when you stand by it and look down at your child or grandchild, you will understand why you kept it. My grandson slept in my Mothers cradle as a baby, and now we are keeping it for his children, and grandchildren. Your cat can enjoy it till then.

  2. MikeyD

    If you really need to do something with it, and if it really is the death trap you claim it is, I would be tempted to carefully separate the foot and head board, figure out which is in the best shape, and keep that one as a wall hanging for the sentimental value. Not many of us can claim to have our first crib. Good luck.

  3. warren5421

    It looks like a Jenny Len (sp) type piece. Take it apart and make it a build project for the magazine. You would have a project with carving, turning, jointly and scroll saw use. Take it apart making it a magazine article showing how to do it without breaking it. You can then use the parts for projects that mean something to you if you don’t put it back together.

  4. ironhat

    Take it to an antique auctioneer and see what he thinks he can get for it. If it’s too low, give to him anyway and then remember that you were going to burn it (winter is over, after all). It will be more than what you went there with!

  5. RileyG

    ” an old, non-functional sewing machine” There is NO SUCH THING as a non-functional sewing machine.
    RileyG
    Owner of machines from 1890 to 1992. The older the better….

  6. 11POPWOOD11

    Gosh… How about this? Make a decision. It’s yours. What difference does it make what anyone else thinks you should do with it? It obviously has no sentimental meaning to you, So, repurpose it, burn it for heat, or kick it to the curb. It’s no ones business but yours. I know this is a very male response, and its not meant to offend. I think a lot who didn’t rely, had similar thought, and like me, couldn’t care less what you do with it.
    A suggestion, because it is an attractive piece of furniture, is give it to some poor family who have a baby but no proper place for it to sleep. There are thousands of them who might appreciate this item. To them it may just be a family heirloom someday. You clearly don’t need it.

  7. pasha137

    Megan: All new babies need a crib so if you can make it safe with a reasonable expenditure of time and expense, then do so and pass it on. If not, then alvage the parts and wood. Make little mementos for friends and relatives and mark them with,”Megan Slept Here” … just a thought.

  8. nancynbob

    I doubt that she’d ever admit it, but I bet that your Mom really hopes you’ll keep it. She’s proud of what you’ve become, but she really loves remembering when you were little – at least most of the time.

  9. R.L. Kocher

    The workmanship is remarkable. I’m sure a lot of care was taken with its’ creation. I would think you were the center of the universe in it. Keep it.

  10. mysticcarver

    I think you should keep it. Taken apart and stored flat. It may be worth something meaningful to someone you know at some time. It is a sweet looking crib and not some mass manufactured item(as far as I know anyways) If I had been the maker I wouldn’t want it torn apart due to inconvenience lol. Either way it is your crib and a hard decision I know. After all you are asking all of us our opinions. Of course it is my 2 cents and they work for me.

    1. Megan Fitzpatrick Post author

      Yeah – that seems to be the general consensus…and if I’m asking the question, it means I don’t really want to break it up, eh? I’m going to try to take it apart this weekend – fingers crossed for hide glue and no nails!

      1. RDW2

        You’ll be glad you kept it when you discover a need for it (as in, to pass it down). My daughter now has the cradle that my dad made for her when she was a baby and she used it for _my_ granddaughter. It was really special for my daughter.

  11. msiemsen

    Megan,
    The crib is kind of awesome looking. If you flip the front down I think you could set you tool chest in there a nice height from the floor. A nice spot underneath for a smaller chest on wheels for the nail gun and etc..

  12. Ally Shaw

    At least if you turn it into a side table and cabinets you’ll be able to tell friends the story behind it (that it used to be your crib). If you don’t have the space for another side table, make it as a gift for someone.

  13. Mike Hosimer

    My wife and I are the antique people in our extended family. I have a house full of family antiques, and I think it would be a same to give it away. I think it would make a great cat bed if you have to find a practical use for it.

      1. Mike Hosimer

        “This crib is nothing special – but it feels as if it ought to be.”
        If it feels special then it is. It is one of the things that you have had longer than you remember,
        and it is a pretty good looking crib in its own right. I think it deserves a better fate then being parted out. Of course I am not walking around it on a daily baisis.

  14. PhilS

    How “antique” is antique? My first reaction is to disassemble it, as other have suggested, and store it. If it were me, I’d keep it until I could pass it along to a family member or someone suitable. If you don’t want to do that, can you donate it to a museum or is there not enough provenance for that?

    Who knows, maybe 200 years from now it will show up on Antiques Roadshow as the crib that the famous Megan Fitzpatrick slept in as an infant. Of course you need some supporting documentation.

  15. Cosmo

    I have a similar artifact of my infancy that also served my daughters and one of my grand children. The grand children that came later would sleep in a modern, infant safe cradle as we finally admitted to the dangers of this beautiful hand-made piece made out of Ohio walnut and cherry. My wife will never get rid of it even though it has been stored in our basement for close to 30 years. My best guess is my son-in-law will, after my wife and I pass, take it apart and build something beautiful out of that old cradle. That’s just fine by me.

  16. Bryan Robinson

    You miss it when you think about giving it away, and after it is gone you don’t miss it. Take a picture and then take it to Goodwill for someone who can use it.

    1. rogerwebb

      You think you’ll miss it but you won’t ! I had a silver tea service that was my grand parents silver wedding present! It was a pain to clean and had never been used, I asked my kids what they would do with it when it was theirs. They said they’d sell it. I sold it and haven’t missed it! I also have a clock that was my great grand parents wedding present. They will fight over that and I love it too .
      Keep the things that you want to keep and get rid of the rest!
      You can’t keep everything!

  17. jaystpeter

    Sounds like your next project should be a shed.

    I had a 1000sq ft house for 12 years. The shed that came with it was barely adequate for a lawnmower, rake, and shovel. So, I bought another Amish built shed. Several years later, I bought a twin for the Amish shed and put it right behind the other (tools were pushing the other contents out of the first).

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