Reading the Cover of the Book

There are books and then, there are covers or dust jackets for hardbound books.

I recently came across quite a few books published in the late 1940s with dust jackets intact. They are intriguing, interesting and nice to behold. Can we judge a book by its cover, maybe not. But we can quickly get an idea about the book. . . . see what you think. How much do we know judging from the covers?

MacKinley Cantor, Signal Thirty-Two


The Spirit of the Gift: A Box of Chocolates

The Spirit of the Gift: A Box of Chocolates

Family Crest

Tucked in an old trunk, an empty box of chocolates with an inscription,

Kenneth’s first box of chocolates given by Uncle Darrel Sept. 7, 1926. 

The old box is fragile; it was constructed of paper but, it had survived over the course of eighty-eight years! I imagine that Kenneth left the box behind when he was no longer a boy; while his mother neatly tucked it away for sometime in the future.…

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The Spirit of the Gift: A Box of Chocolates

Tucked in an old trunk, an empty box of chocolates with an inscription,

Kenneth’s first box of chocolates given by Uncle Darrel Sept. 7, 1926. 

The old box is fragile; it was constructed of paper but, it had survived over the course of eighty-eight years! I imagine that Kenneth left the box behind when he was no longer a boy; while his mother neatly tucked it away for sometime in the future. Carefully, I opened the box and discovered a handmade stuffed elephant. . . This was precious; I felt a tingle up and down my spine – the spirit of the gift survived.


Eighty-eight years later, I understood the sentiment. The first step or the first word or the first box of chocolate mark moments in time that become more meaningful over the course of a lifetime. Here I stood with this memento with its beautiful art deco design – deep blue lovely actually. I dusted it carefully and placed it on a table.

Now, in my present life, I pass things on in the marketplace – a big marketplace powered by the internet. I write descriptions that are probably too long and often, I think, too sentimental. I could easily write a description lacking the story of this empty old chocolate box; perhaps,

Old Ramer’s Chocolate Box. Good Condition. Measurement 10″ x 4″ approximately.

But then, the history is lost – and so is the meaning. So, I photographed the box, pondering each detail of the graphics; looked at the elephant again and then wrote this description:

The amazing graphics on this paper wrapped cardboard box – are remarkable and in very good condition . . . the box is dated with a charming inscription:

“Kenneth’s first box of chocolates given by Uncle Darrel Sept. 7, 1926″

The craftsman era is reflected in the graphic tree with fruit while the peacock seems more reminiscent of art deco .  . .
Whatever the inspiration, the brilliant blue, red rose and linear horizontal graphics eventually lead to the logo for Ramer’s Chocolate. The logo is repeated on the side of the box . . .

We are selling this advertising box as found . . . upon opening the box, we were surprised to see a handmade elephant tucked inside, no doubt, an attempt by Kenneth’s Mother to save one of his childhood toys. This is a treasure. Measures about 10” X 4 1/2 X 3 1/4.
Condition: At the corner of the lid, there is some loosening
of the wrap. The elephant needs a wash as evidenced in the


For a while, I had the pleasure of enjoying the box on the table. I wondered if anyone in the world appreciated the bits and pieces of the past. Maybe no one will ever . . . I would say to myself. But one evening, the Etsy Notification sounded . . .TMA had just ordered the Ramer’s Chocolate Box! I was a little let down, no longer would I see the beautiful graphics as I passed the table. I worried also – why did someone want this box? I carefully packed the chocolate box. I also reiterated to the new owner that this was a precious chocolate box.

Two days later, the new owner, Tanya replied:

The package arrived today in great shape – thank you so much – especially for the background information.  While having dinner just a couple of weeks ago, my daughter Ali was telling my Aunt Barbara (nee Ramer) about her new job at the bakery, which includes candy making.  My Aunt then went on to tell us how my Nana (Hortense Ramer) always knew what was inside the chocolate pieces in a candy box based on the design on the candy because she worked for Ramer chocolates – apparently my grandfather’s side of the family (Earl Ramer) owned a chocolate shop.  It was a tidbit of info that my Aunt learned from my Nana at some point (my own mother had never heard that story), so I of course had to google Ramer Chocolates to find out more.  My Nana lived in NJ her whole life, so when I saw that Ramer’s Chocolates was based in St. Paul, Minnesota, I wasn’t sure if there was a connection.  I then came across your etsy site in the google search,  and being a huge vintage fan, was further intrigued…unfortunately my nana passed away in 2006 at the age of 97, so I couldn’t ask her about working for her husband’s family’s candy shop  (maybe he was just a boyfriend at the time).  I hesitated about making the purchase until I saw the inscription from Uncle Darrel….maybe not a direct connection, but my mother’s name is Darriel Ramer, so to me that was more than a sign that this vintage item belonged in my collection – and upon receiving it, I actually got a chill when I opened the box and held it in my hand…
My Aunt did say that my grandfather’s family was from the midwest, so I am definitely going to do more digging.
So to make a long story short, the Ramer’s Chocolate box has found a perfect new home and will be cherished and handled with great care for many, many more years to come.  Thank you for brightening my day 🙂
Family Crest
Family Crest

An incredible history for an empty box of chocolates drawn from the early days of electricity to the age of the internet. I wonder if Tanya’s grandmother was there the day that the box of chocolates was shipped to Amesville, Ohio. It is entirely possible; the A. M. Ramer Company did not survive the great depression a few years later.

Lately, I have been spending some time reading about the company – I have found so many interesting details. The facility built in ca. 1916 cost a staggering 375,00.00! Saint Paul was becoming the candy capital of the world. And Mr. Ramer was a part of the growth of the candy industry and the growth of Saint Paul as a manufacturing center. The train from Chicago would pass the candy companies –  no doubt passengers enjoyed a sweet treat! But fortunes rise and fall, then as now. All that remains of the A.M. Ramer Candy Company is the bond of family. The spirit of the gift survived long past the lives of Kenneth and Uncle Darrel; the spirit of the gift lives now in the life of another family. A Circle. The circle of giving . . . Nice.

Ramer Candy Company Building

One last thought, I won’t worry about my descriptions being rather long or overly sentimental. Well, not so much . . .

Inspiration: A Place Called Home

Back in the day, when we were in college in Kirksville, a young man from Brooklyn moved into our neighborhood. It was his first time outside of a city. We did the best we could to calm him – even though there was no McDonalds, even though there were no buses, department stores, big restaurants  . . . even though it was not the city, certainly, once he started class, he would find friends, good times and settle in to this new place. As fate would have it, the very next morning, a few hogs escaped the livestock auction and barreled across the neighborhood yards. He was unnerved – really – in part, because he had not been able to sleep because it was too quiet. The hogs, well, they were the last straw. He gave us all of his groceries and caught the next plane back to New York.

I love New York, it is exhilarating! But my spirit is ignited by the small, lets say very small town that I live in. You might be thinking, a one-stoplight kind of place. But no, there is no stoplight nor stop sign for thru traffic. So, I suppose, we would define Amesville as a no stoplight town. And that is just fine with everyone that I know that calls this place home.

Monday Morning Traffic in Amesville
Monday Morning Traffic in Amesville

Amesville was founded late in the eighteenth century when the new republic found a way to remunerate the army that fought for independence. Men and women rode the flatboats from Pittsburg to Marietta and claimed their fifty acres. Many came with big ideas – they built ocean going vessels in a little town near Amesville. But they settled in to a rolling landscape that reminded them of their old homes in New England. The countryside remains bucolic  and quiet, very quiet. And when I need a few things from the grocery, I travel the two miles to Amesville for cream and milk from a small creamery, free-range eggs from a local farm – and even homemade granola. I do not wait in line, I am back home in minutes. If I need to go to the bank – I am first in line all the time. If I need to go to the post office, again, chances are good that I am the lone customer. The short drive often, brings tears to my eyes, but I am very sentimental. There is no other place on earth that I want to live.

I have no idea why I could make the jump from growing up in a big city like Chicago and settle in to this quiet place. I toss and turn at night when I visit a city. – it is so noisy. The lights from cars on the road way traveling across the bedroom ceiling . . . it is unnerving. Nonetheless, every now and again, I crave the excitement of the city, really need to breathe in all the life on the streets. But when you believe that you live in a paradise, then all you really need to do is open your eyes to see all that there is in a new light. Now that is a good place to live!

And work! Our barn opens up over a beautiful valley – a barn with a view! At the end of May, we will open up the doors for our Barn Sale. You are invited, of course, and we will get more information out later. It is worth the drive and you never know what you will find!