Our living and dining rooms were quite lovely for the time. The walls were “lumiere green” which is the French term for subtle chartreuse. The carpeting was green-gold in color; its correct name was Grecian gold; again, more marketing than definitive of the actual shade. The fireplace bricks were painted a dulled red-brown to simulate what we had come to accept as natural for a brick fireplace; that was definitely some good public relations work by the painter (yours truly).
Against this colored backdrop hung several pieces of art, some inherited but all sentimental for one reason or another. Oil originals of two angels hung on either side of the front picture window. Two larger, but not original pictures (the actual ones we were once told belong to the Louvre) resided above the sofa in the living room and the buffet in the dining room. Two mirrors, one etched with a flower design and the other a simple oval shape, hung over the fireplace and the piano respectively.
Our mother loved photographs and plants. A small corner shelf and the mantle held the majority of them. Unfortunately, my mother loved all photographs, even the not-so-flattering ones…she insisted they were cute. Naturally, I had to daily walk by the one in which I’d had a cold and was sitting next to my cute-as-a-button little sister who was perfectly well that day; both of us wore braids at the time. Yep. That one was a real gem and always evoked in me the time-worn adage, “only a mother could love” each time I caught sight of it.
The furniture was scratch-proof. Any further attempts to wear it out were futile; the collection seemed to wear indefinitely. Two antique chairs, one Victorian slipper chair and the other a Louis- the- something occasional chair sat apart, recently reupholstered. We had convinced Mom at the upholsterer’s that day that she should go with the more expensive, crushed red velvet. As garish as that now sounds, they were actually very striking when finished. The seat on the Victorian didn’t hurt anymore either; the upholsterer had kindly removed all the original horse hair stuffing from that one. Other main accent furniture pieces included a French Provincial table in one corner, a small, spindle legged table side table, and a taller plant stand with three perched eagles atop its tri-corner legs; the latter two were Early American but had been naturalized French several years earlier.
For recalling those fireside chats from the war era, the family’s Philco floor radio still stood in a little side nook. Mom had repurposed it into an aquarium stand; the top was the perfect height from which to enjoy the Siamese Fighter’s battles with the less than angelic Angel fish. Like most possessions in our house, it had long ceased to perform its initial role; but it was old and matched everything else.
Scattered on any available surfaces were a few of the family artifacts: my great-aunt’s vases, an antique candy jar, the grandchildren’s pictures, an orange compote, artificial flowers when real ones refused to bloom, wedding pictures, and on the far end of the dining buffet sat an amber carnival glass pitcher. The pitcher cracked in two from the hot Jell-O Mom was mixing one day; that was the last time the pitcher held any liquid. It remained standing upright and convincingly in one piece, thanks to the sugar that sealed the cracks!
Add our music books from childhood accordion lessons, one old antique clock that sat atop the piano; it chimed when you knocked into the piano or the washer was on “spin dry”, and, finally, my graduation picture in which, I’m happy to report, I had neither a cold nor braids…you get the picture.
Maturity has helped some; I no longer apologize for the ugly, half-naked angels; in fact, now they hang in my own home…hindsight and some appreciation for the artist’s hand no longer compels me to emphasize how “original” they are.
Gladly, I did not choose to live any longer with the two Louvre prints; once the folks were gone and our family home emptied, the two prints left my life for good. One had portrayed the French Court; the other, the Spanish Court. Didn’t matter; when the television repairman who came to adjust our 1964 RCA round screen color console asked if those people in the picture were my relatives, THAT was the last straw! Absolutely NO more creepy, historic, prints for me!
Been there, done that.