i’m so grateful to have grown up in the era of trains.
remember these? samsonite train cases?
i had my very own! i was so proud! LOL.
convinced i was all grown up.
mine looked just like this one! same color and everything.
remember how they smelled inside?
i LOVED that smell!
back when it took three days and two nights to get to new york.
gramma packed our lunches. but every now and then we got to eat
in the dining car!
oh my. my heart still skips a beat. i can hear the silver against the train china.
and i remember to put my napkin in my lap.
and i know not to order the most expensive thing on the menu.
but I’M IN THE DINING CAR !!!
and soon aunt mabel and uncle penny will meet us in syracuse.
and then drive us through the night to their house in the village
in upstate new york.
we have had to change trains. we have walked through stations.
stay close to gram.
this was back when train stations were enormous and
to me . . . breathtakingly beautiful.
most of them were designed in the art deco mode.
it was the rage when trains were at their height of importance in this country.
the saddest thing about america is that we didn’t keep these wonderful
we had and still seem to have a love affair with speed.
we thought the airplane was the only way to go.
the magnificent train travel fell by the wayside.
such a loss.
but when i was small . . . this is how my gramma and the marine and i
went to visit aunt mabel and uncle penny in new york.
it’s funny what stays with you from childhood.
i honestly think my love for interior design began with those visits to
aunt mabel’s house.
in our little family we were always moving. my father’s work and all.
he was moving up and consequently we were always moving on.
i found the trips to new york a source of stability somehow.
aunt mabel’s house was always the same.
and it was quite simply . . .
i have no pictures of the actual house that i can share here. they’re long gone i guess.
but i searched and searched the internet and i have come so close
as to make me catch my breath again in delight.
i can feel the cool new york air . . . we always went in the summer.
and it was always such a treat. the cool fresh sweet air.
i chose the bed by the window. and it was always open . . . just a little.
this looked like the window. and even the curtains.
but picture the bed with a raspberry colored blanket and creamy white sheets.
the sheets must have been ironed. they were so crisp!
the blanket was soft. perfect for a little child’s cheek.
the color was not red. nor wine. nor pink.
it was raspberry. i have looked for it since. i’ve never found it.
i used to lie there in the early morning . . .
watching the rain drops chase each other silently down the window. . .
i would hear uncle penny’s car tires crunch on the big gravel drive down below . . .
he was leaving for work.
the house was a large two story building.
there were two separate ‘houses’ in it!
aunt mayme and uncle john lived on the lower level
and aunt mabel and uncle penny lived on the top.
they were my gramma’s sisters.
aunt mayme and uncle john were older.
i don’t think they were so fond of children.
we greeted them . . . then pretty much stayed away!
i love two story houses. maybe that’s why i’m so happy in my little
i am upstairs and i love it.
this is very much how it looked from the front . . .
a typical new england style . . .
aunt mabel and uncle penny’s entrance was in the back of the house.
a beautiful entry with black and white tile. spacious. and always filled with
her collection of african violets in white scroll work plant stands.
and there were ferns and palms.
very airy and welcoming.
i wish i had her green thumb instead of my BLACK one of plant death!
but hey . . .
speaking of . . .
the flowers on my balcony are doing well! haven’t killed them yet.
hold good thoughts.
black and white marble tiles have since forever been a favorite.
aunt mabel loved blue and white china.
as do i.
well. i also love all beautiful pottery too!
but i do love my blue and white china especially.
did it start there? i have no idea. how do children pick up their tastes?
when does it start? all i know is . . . so much of my likes are from her house.
she always displayed it beautifully. she had large pieces like these.
and there were fresh flowers throughout the house.
actually now that i think about it . . .
no wonder i liked it.
it looked very english really.
and that love of mine started early early early!
i was not used to eating in a ‘dining room.’
and i remember being allowed to eat in my robe!
i had to wash my face . . . brush my hair and teeth . . .
but i could appear in my ‘dressing gown.’ LOL
imagine! not having to get dressed to eat breakfast.
we had to get dressed at our house first. LOL.
such funny things we remember!
why on earth should that have mattered so much!
but i remember being delighted about it.
it had dark furniture very much like this style. and i can’t believe i actually found a picture
of one with the same brown toile wall paper!!! but i did! how wonderful to see this again!
i was always on my best manners.
i was treated like a grown up. and so i acted like one. i felt special!
i don’t even remember the food!
the living room must have been aunt mabel’s ‘room.’
it was filled with flowered chintz furniture… plants… knitting…
tables and unusual lamps. magazines. books.
but instead of the valance in this picture it had white cape cod curtains.
i preferred uncle penny’s ‘room.’
to go into it you had to open the french doors.
it was darker. and there were big chairs in there. and lamps. and it smelled like
his cigars. and that’s the strangest thing . . .
i CANNOT STAND the smell of cigarettes to this day . . .
maybe because they killed my mother and daddy and bob . . .
but cigars . . .
they always make me think of uncle penny. and i honestly don’t mind the smell.
i probably wouldn’t like them really strong . . . but his didn’t seem so.
and . . .
he had the tv in his study! i could watch “i love lucy” with him.
we would laugh and totally enjoy ourselves!
and so began my love of all french doors!
which the wren house now has!
by the way… if you don’t already know about ‘hooked on houses’ blog
and if you love looking at interiors and how people live . . .
i surely can’t be the only voyeur out there ! ! ! LOL . . . check it out!
she has a blog all about houses. especially favorite houses in all the movies we love!
aunt mabel’s house had a sun porch in the back.
each year she freshened the wicker by repainting it white.
the cushions were old though and faded flowered chintz.
and there we go again.
is that the birth of my love for white wicker?
i’ve never really thought about all this before.
this is amazingly close.
the only thing missing . . . her african violets.
in the back garden was a huge (i rather think it probably wasn’t huge)
since children see things in a different perspective . . .
anyway . . . in the back garden was a sand box.
she had wonderful jello molds and all kinds of interesting containers
to make creations in the sand. i could spend hours there.
the sand was so cool to the touch.
apparently it didn’t take much to entertain me!
wonder what that says about my intellect!!!
and no doubt there began my love affair with really big trees.
any kind of trees actually. but there they were so very big and tall . . .
everything was always lush and green.
my mother grew up in villages there with these kinds of trees and houses.
these lovely old houses.
often housing two families. like mabel’s and mayme’s.
you can actually eat outside on the terrace there and it’s not 110 in the shade.
and the food doesn’t blow off your plate! LOL.
and every house seems to have a porch or a sunroom.
such a heavenly . . . calm . . . naturally simple way to live.
my train trip down my chidhood’s memory lane has come to an end.
i hope you enjoyed my aunt mabel’s house.
my uncle penny was an athlete. he could jump barrels lined end to end
on ice skates.
he was grand.
he was my favorite uncle. i miss him to this day.
someday i’ll go back there. maybe.
maybe i shall only go back in my sweet memories. you know.
because . . .
just maybe it’s better to keep them safe old bean.
all aboard ! ! !
time to get back on the train. and go home.
and now that i’m all grown up . . .
i shall have a cup of lovely coffee in the dining car!
til soon old bean.