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Are We Sentimental About Simple Things We Use Every Day?

By Ann Richardson February 05, 2023 Lifestyle

I made some soup earlier today and, in order to serve it, I reached for my ladle. It is absolutely not a classy ladle – it has a red plastic handle. It probably came from Woolworth’s or the equivalent. But I suddenly had a memory of how and when I got it.

I had just moved into my first ever apartment on my own in my last year of college in Ann Arbor, Michigan. My first two years, as was the norm back then, were spent in college dormitories – women only. My third year had been spent abroad in London, where I lived in a small room and generally ate out.

A friend of a friend had graduated and was moving elsewhere. He had various kitchen utensils that he didn’t think were worth the nuisance of taking with him, so he offered them to her to give to me. Included in this very welcome loot was the ladle.

It was the autumn of 1962.

Keeping Things

Although my donor didn’t think it was worth keeping his kitchen utensils, I did. And somehow, this ladle got packed up along with other things when I left Michigan and, with each subsequent move, this ladle came, too.

It moved to Pittsburgh, then New York City and then London. Indeed, three different homes in London, although I have lived in the third one for over 40 years.

Very occasionally over the years, I have wondered whether I should replace my ladle with a better one. There are much nicer ladles, after all, that would be more fitting for showing to guests.

But when the moment came, I always thought this one worked perfectly well and, after all, I wasn’t inviting the Queen (now King) to dinner.

And so here it is, 60 years later, in my London kitchen drawer, still perfectly useful.


Of course, some old things have great importance. Perhaps you have some family heirlooms of one kind or another. Perhaps a vase or a painting or a piece of furniture that has been passed down through the family.

These tend to have huge sentimental value. You look forward to handing them on to your own children or grandchildren.

Perhaps you even collect antiques.

Lasting is their point. They have the weight of history, and their age has a genuine importance. They are often seriously valuable.

I have few such things, although I do have one engraved silver serving spoon that was given to my German grandmother at the time of her marriage, some time at the end of the 19th century.

I recently met a third cousin once-removed (I think, such relationships are incredibly complicated) from the same family line, and she said she also had a silver serving spoon very much like it.

Such things have great value as a memory of our grandparents, but no real market value.

Things Last

But my interest here is not in the valuable things we own but the completely non-valuable stuff.

I have, for instance, a box of wooden spools with many different colours of cotton thread, passed on from my other grandmother when she died in 1961. They probably go back to 50 years earlier when she first started sewing. (These fall into that wonderful category of ‘things that might come in useful one day’.)

The thing about simple everyday items is that they often last. Whether valuable or not. The older they are, the more durable they probably are.

And we just keep them and use them and keep them, without a thought.

In the end, you gain a fondness for them for having been with you for so long. Even ladles.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What simple everyday items do you own that are old but not valuable? Can you date when you got them? Do you have a fondness for them? Are things that belonged to your family important to you?

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I have a couple of kitchen utensils that I’ll never replace, although I have thought about it occasionally. One is a solid wood rolling pin with handles, this is all in one piece of wood, beautifully made, smooth, heavy, and excellent quality wood. It belonged to my great-grandmother. I can’t roll dough or anything else now with handles that move but I had thought about buying one of those long, slim French style of rolling pins. It’ll never happen. The other utensil is a medium blue flexible type of vinyl large serving spoon that I bought in the 70’s in a kitchen shop in Yorkville in Toronto when I lived in the area. It was one of my first kitchen purchases. I couldn’t afford the nicer metal one at the time. This one is now terribly stained but I like how it isn’t as rigid as today’s cheaper plastic spoons or the metal ones so I can get food out of corners of dishes. Not so nice for serving on the table but I think, oh well, then don’t eat here. Enjoy my food. :-)

Sandy Charbonneau

Yes, every day with joy. I have three cast iron skillets I have eaten from for 70 years. Gifts from my mother, who cooked in them and passed them to me, the youngest, when I married in 1977. They were gifted to her from her Mom who fed 13 children.

I have a cherished wooden spoon from mom and grandma. Many more but these are so close to my heart.
Mom and Grandma have passed. I have four children and now a family of 19 who come to eat in my home several times a week from these treasured no-nonsense pans. We use them, wash and dry on a burner or in the stove. My husband and son-in-laws respect the clean up routine.

PS does anyone know how to change that 13 year old picture of me that showed up😂😂
I am all grey now😍

Vanya Drumchiyska

Hi Sandy! The fact that you have a headshot in place means you are registered as a WordPress user. And WordPress uses a service called gravatar to display user profile images. In order to upload a more current headshot, you need to go to, log in with the same email address you used when you typed in your comment here, and upload the photo there. To see whether you have been successful, go to, enter your email address in the field and click “check”. If your headshot visualizes in the 4 spaces, underneath the email field, you’re good to go.
I hope this was helpful!


I still have recipe books going back to the 1980s which I use often and have great affection for, including The Vegetarian Cook Book, 1985. Still relevant.

Ann Richardson

Ah yes, perhaps I should write an article about old recipe books. I have The Joy of Cooking checked out from a county library by my husband’s mother (or he thinks it might have been his brother) in the early 60s, both died years ago. But the very splattered cookbook is still picked up and used from time to time. I hate to think what the overdue charges would be!!


I have a hand-me-down wooden spoon that I have used for 40 years and when my kids or nephews come over to cook, they always use it because it brings back so many great cooking marathons and memories of times together.

Letitia Suk

I am writing about “The Stories Behind the Stuff” for my children with lots of pieces like the ladle!


The Author

Ann Richardson’s most popular book, The Granny Who Stands on Her Head, offers a series of reflections on growing older. Subscribe to her free Substack newsletter, where she writes fortnightly on any subject that captures her imagination. Ann lives in London, England with her husband of sixty years. Please visit her website for information on all her books:

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