October 16, 2015

Edith- My Lady of Mystery

Knock knock. Who's there?
It's me, Tina.
Tina who?
Aw, come on guys.  I haven't been away that long!

Look who I found this summer.

She seems to have lost her head..some of it, anyway.
We feel so connected in that way.  Hmmm.

Rusty nail in the head...love!

She's a real mess, but I love her.

Chippy and crumbly with rusty pins and tattered fabric.

She's fairly large to be a pin cushion, but who knows?
The only info I have on her is that she came from 
an estate sale of a French family.
I can't determine whether she is papier mache or clay or both.

She reminds me of my junior high school history teacher.
Her name was Edith Volterra and she was a very intimidating sort.
You did not mess with The Vulture, as she was referred to.
I felt sorry for her and so I smiled at her every day.
Sometimes she gave me a small smile back.
Often she did not.
She did make it difficult for the students to like her.
I always wondered why.

I googled Mrs.Volterra and was amazed at what I found.
And her husband, Enrico....wow.
Enrico Volterra has a rich history, including being the son of one of 
Italy's most famous mathematicians.
The family was one of Italy's intellectual elite.

I have become so intrigued with their story.
How did a girl from Wisconsin end up married to this man?
Where did their paths cross?
They married in 1952 and he joined the faculty at the University of Texas in 1957.
I'll be reading everything I can find.

I wish I could go back and listen to her stories once again.

The Papers of Enrico Volterra are at CalTech after being donated by Mrs. Volterra.
Enrico passed away in 1973.

That's only two years before I was her student.

Perhaps now I understand.

Enrico's Edith, Lady of the Small-ish Smile.

I'll still be smiling at her.

Edit: Mrs. Volterra passed away at the age of 101 on June 3, 2017.
Thank you to her nephew, Bill, for sharing this information with me.
She is being buried with military honors in Wisconsin.
May she rest in peace.


  1. oooh, LOVE This Post!
    thank you, thank you!

  2. Tina, first I want to say how much you were missed and what a joy to have you back. Second, I think that little woman is a work of art, even without the wonderful story that you told about her namesake. It is too bad that people come and go through our lives and, without having a speck of knowledge about them, we form opinions that are probably so far away from the real truth, especially when we are young. Sometimes we grow up and know better and sometimes we don't! But I love that you dug deeper and found out such interesting facts. Even so, she will grace your home with beauty everytime you look at her. Again, glad you are back..Happy Weekend..Judy P.S. how is Jack? Big hugs to him and Bruce.

  3. Girl, I am so glad to see you here!! And the post was lovely, as always. Yay for Teen Wolf!

  4. Welcome Edith. Oh and Tina too!

  5. Wow-- that is quite a story. I hope you fill us in as you find out more about her life. She was probably in pain (emotional) and disconnecting from everyone after losing her husband. He must have died quite young?
    Love that doll head...it is amazing...oh-if it could only talk! xo Diana

  6. Hi Tina,
    So good to see you posting. I have missed you. What a great post and interesting story. I hope you can find out more about Edith. If you do please share with us. Now I am intrigued about this wonderful women.

  7. Missed you. Great story. We never really know what goes on in someones life.

  8. Welcome back. I enjoyed your post - as always.

    Blessings, Linda

  9. Well hello there! I have no idea what your Edith's original purpose would have been, but you've attached a wonderful story to add to the mystery. Welcome back, Tina!

  10. Wow. great story! I LOVE this piece. You find the best things.

  11. This post was well worth the wait for your return. A two-fer - a wonderful vintage find (I am jealous!) and a mysterious love story.

  12. Well, Edith is a very interesting lady, as is her namesake. I love that you have researched and found out more. Don't you wish you could have just sat down and really had a discussion with such a sad lady? Her heart was probably broken by the loss of her husband. It would be extremely interesting to know how they met, etc. Let us know if you find out more!


  13. She's BEAUTIFUL! And so is the story. Your smiles probably meant more to Mrs. V than you know. I'm so glad you're back, I've missed you!! ~Ann

  14. I've always believed that a smile can make a big difference in someone's day... and someone's life.Your smiles probably helped her feel a little less broken. Love Edith, and love the story too.

  15. She is lovely and I'm glad you are feeling like blogging again lady!

  16. you do find some unique things. liked the story of edith from wisconsin.

  17. Lovely, lovely post, naturally.

  18. Tina,
    so glad to hear from you! Your story of Edith was very intriguing! How did they meet and fall in love, I'm sure there's a story there! Your find is truly unique, that little crooked smile, very charming. You do find the best things!

  19. She is so cool! A great score. How interesting to find out about your teacher. Please share more!!

  20. I have MISSED YOU and thought of you so much throughout the summer. I can barely believe it's gone gone gone! I love your find and I love your story about your teacher. I think back sometimes about my teachers and realize that when they taught me they were just out of college and very young and probably had such a fun life like our Coach Been that we just had no idea about. Keep up posted. I hope to get back to regular blogging too...very soon! As you said...outside was calling. xoxo

  21. What a beautiful, thoughtful post. You are so right, everyone has a story, and often a very interesting one. I love antiques because of that, each "thing" has a secret story too.

  22. I'm so glad you have returned!! She is beautiful and what an interesting story! Reminds me of a book I read not too long ago...The Girl You Left Behind...which was an interesting story about a painting!

  23. Hi Tina you've been missed. I love your charming story and association to the very unusual bewitching but cool Edith. Fun post.

  24. Wow! How interesting! Where do you keep a head with a hole in it by the way? I can just see my MIL coming in and seeing something like this on my coffee table. She would die! She's not into my decor.
    I love it! She's a perfect mess! And the story of your teacher too. I think about some of my teachers and wonder about them too. Very cool post Tina! I didn't blog all summer either... the time just flew by and I'm still trying to catch up!

  25. Tina, I enjoyed reading the connection you made between your very cool acquisition and your history teacher. She must have imparted some appreciation of history because you are now researching Edith's history. The snippets you shared are intriguing. Good luck with your research. I saw your linear the Simple and Sweet Fridays party. Ann Marie @ Iris Abbey www.irisabbey.com

  26. Actually, Edith Volterra died last week at the age of 101. She was my mother's sister. Edith's life was with out doubt amazing! Services are this week with military honors appropriate for one of the greatest generation.

    1. Thank you so much for this information, Bill. I apologize for my incorrect information. My sincerest condolences to you and your family. I was unfortunately misinformed by another former student that she had passed away in 2015. I wish that I could have visited with her before her passing.


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