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'My Grandmother's Trunk' unlocks trove on black life

'My Grandmother's Trunk' unlocks trove on black life
Frances Cockey shows the audience at Reisterstown Senior Center a photo of the home her grandparents owned on Bond Avenue. See more photos online at www.communitytimes.com. (Susan C. Ingram/Staff photo , Carroll County Times)

Frances Cockey, a former Baltimore school teacher and Owings Mills resident, took time to share some precious, historic family treasures with Reisterstown Senior Center members last week.

Cockey brought a vast trove of artifacts, clothing, appliances, household accessories and other items to the center for an hour-long presentation on her grandparents - residents of the Glyndon/Reisterstown area in the early the 1900s.

After teaching in city schools for more than 30 years, Cockey began taking her family history show, "My Grandmother's Trunk," around to area schools following her retirement in 1988.

The collection of vintage photos, clothing, household goods and toys paint a vivid picture of county black life at a time when few blacks climbed into the middle class as her ancestors had.

The artifacts were amassed from her grandparents' home on Bond Avenue after they died.

Cockey said that last Friday was the first time in about eight years that she has pulled her collection together to share with the public.

The dozens of people gathered at the Reisterstown Senior Center enjoyed her fond recollections of her extended family, and looking at the close to 100-year-old items that included high button-up shoes, vintage dresses, hats, purses and undergarments.

Cockey said her grandparents also left a sizable financial cache that was used to create scholarship funds at area colleges, including Coppin State University and Morgan State University - both historically black colleges.

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