Letting Go: Tess Maune Shares Personal Story About Cleaning Out Grandparents' Time Capsule Home

One of the biggest, and sometimes toughest, undertaking for families is figuring out what to do with loved ones’ things after they pass away.

Friday, February 3rd 2023, 4:45 pm


One of the biggest, and sometimes toughest, undertaking for families is figuring out what to do with loved ones’ things after they pass away.

It's something I experienced firsthand as I helped my mom start the process of cleaning out her parent's house in El Reno.

It was hard. It was fun. It was emotional and it was nostalgic.

"I have a picture of myself at a slumber party in this shirt, probably when I was about 16. In this very room," my mom, Cynthia Jensen, said while holding up a top she wore in the 1970s.

Her childhood home, a yellow two-story house, has been a fixture off Route 66 in El Reno for more than 100 years. My mom and her family moved there in the early 60s and it's almost like time stood still inside the walls of that house. For instance, my mom's old bedroom is still decorated with the flowered wallpaper and gold shag carpet she picked out as a teenager.

For her, sorting through more than six decades worth of stuff is like going back in time.

"It very much is. I'm glad you're getting a picture of it so I can just kiss it all goodbye," my mom said.

While many of the things she came across were familiar, there were some things she was seeing for the first time... like Valentine's Day cards my grandma's classmates gave her in the 1930s and 1940s.

My grandparents were what you might call "collectors" and they didn't get rid of much.

My grandpa died more than 30 years ago, then my grandma passed away in 2017.

It took some time, but in the past few months, my mom finally got to a place where she was ready to get rid of the things inside her childhood home.

It's a process we actually started on our own a few years ago, but quickly learned we needed an expert with experience to help.

"It's emotional, it's overwhelming. It's hard. There's an attachment, so we try to come in and make it easier on the family. We pull things out of closets, basements, hidden rooms attics," said Kristen Grandi, who specializes in estate sales through her business Junk Hippy.

Kristen is a self-proclaimed "junker" and says my grandparents' house stands out from any other she's been in.

"It is a time capsule. There's very few modern things in this house. It's like everything is from the 50s to 70s. And I think that makes it even better," said Kristen. "I've never seen this ever, brand new Pyrex from 1974, sealed in the box. Or the corning ware casserole dishes, we have some of those brand-new in the box from the 70s. And we don't ever see that. Ever."

There were a few other surprises in store for Kristen and her crew when they discovered two secret passageways to attic space that my grandpa hid behind built-in dressers.

"I was freaking out, like diving in there. So, we grabbed a phone and started filming. We posted a few videos where we first found that the cabinet pushed in and one of them on TikTok was like 128,000 views," said Kristen. "The hidden rooms were full of toys and clothes and a pinball machine, and the TV was in there."

The TV was the one my grandparents bought together in 1953 right after they got married. Other than a few scratches and a lot of dust, it's in good pretty good shape.

Kristen also found vintage nightgowns that had never been worn.

"I'm guessing from when your grandma got married, little nightgowns and slips that still have the tag on it," Kristen said. "Boxes and boxes of kid clothes from the 50s and most of it is like brand new. You can't just find that anywhere and we have rooms full of it. It's just like treasure."

Treasures filled the house, but a large collection of military hats and helmets was my grandpa's most prized possession. They are all original with some dating back to the 1800s.

And even though we'd like to, we can't hang on to everything. The hats and helmets are going to Hayden Howard, a young military memorabilia collector, passionate about history and honoring the men and women who have served our country.

"Unfortunately, a lot of these veterans have passed away and I used to interview WWII vets when I was younger," Howard said pointing to my grandpa's collection. "These are their legacy and it's our duty as the future generation to preserve their memories."

And that's what makes letting go easier... knowing there are keepers of the past out there who will make new memories with some those old things we hold dear.

"It gets to live on, and I hope that means something," Kristen said.


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