My husband, Chris, and I are lucky because his parents have many treasured family heirlooms that they have been gradually passing down to their children. Chris' father is the great grand nephew of William Boyd Allison, who served in the House of Representatives and Senate for Iowa from 1863 to 1902. My father-in-law was nice enough to give us the Memorial Addresses book that contains all of the speeches given at his 1909 memorial service by over 30 politicians and colleagues. We also have a few pieces of Allison family silverware, complete with an engraved "A".
I also keep an eye out for William B. Allison items on eBay. So far, I've found his autograph, a cigar box with his picture on it, a political button, and a "William Allison for President" ribbon badge (although he never ended up running for president).
We have one more cherished family treasure that I'd like to share with you. My in-laws were so thoughtful and generous in entrusting us with this handmade Peter Heater. I could lie and say that it belonged to the esteemed William Boyd Allison, but I don't want to ruin the family name and crush the hearts of WBA's beloved Iowans. It was given to my husband's grandfather in the 1930's. I'm assuming (hoping, really) that it was never actually used. But who knows.
It is sewn onto a piece of cardboard, along with the accompanying poem, sung to the tune of "Happy Days are Here Again":
When the winter chill hangs o'er the land
There is nothing that could be sweeter
Than the day you bring out
The long underwear and
The crazy Peter Heater.
With balls enclosed in snuggy wool
And prickering string all tied
One can survive the winter gale
When better men have died.
The old blue nose will glow like fire,
Aged limbs no longer teeter,
And mama too is all pepped up
About the Peter Heater.
Chris and I are planning to make an amendment to our will to ensure that it ends up in the right hands. We want to avoid an Anna-Nicole-Smith-style family battle over a knitted cock sock.