Friday, September 29, 2006

The Houses Inside Books



I love to come across descriptions of houses within books. Here are two samples from books I've read lately:

"The house was close to the ground, with a long porch across the front. There were old trunks on the porch, and a quilting frame, and a big globe of the world with Africa showing. From the inside of the house there was the sound of a typewriter...

"...She led them into the living room. It was much darker than the outside and full of old-fashioned furniture and things. There was a half-upholstered love seat with a dusty hammer and tacks and stuff on it; near the fireplace there was a weaving loom and Tommy bumped against a wheel with a clay bowl drying on it...

"Following the others, Nora looked into the kitchen and saw boxes of peaches on the floor. They smelled very ripe; and on the table there were empty jars, and a jar partly full of brown peach halves. It looked as if canning had been stopped quite a while ago for something more important...

"...She seated herself at an old typewriter on a round table that was nearly covered with books and papers. The lace curtains at the window were gray and the room smelled of dust and overripe peaches.

"There were books and things on all the chairs, but the explorers moved them politely and sat down." ....From The Enchanted Islands by Archie Binns

And the following reminds me of the houses we often walk through during estate sales. In fact, Tom and I may go to a couple estate sales today and who knows what adventures we will have?:

"When I was nine years old, my father discovered an old two-story stucco house in a small, gated community of stately homes once owned by the very rich...

"The house was my mother's dream made real. It had a master bedroom as large as our whole apartment on Islington Street, with a dressing room for her and another for my father. There were four smaller bedrooms upstairs and a playroom for my sister and me to keep ourselves amused in. I had a whole wall of bookshelves to fill with books. What more could a little girl want?

"The kitchen had a table big enough for us all to eat breakfast and watch my mother assemble the ingredients for the meals to come... But the best part of the house was the basement with the paneled recreation room, laundry room and fruit cellar filled with dilled pickles, tomatoes, apple butter and canned vegetables from our garden...

"I have lived in well over a dozen houses since I left Forty Birkhead Place, but I have never had another home. Home was huge family dinner parties in that noble dining room under the crystal chandelier. Home was a climbing rose on the side of the garage and a purple maple tree that grew taller each year. Home was the Chickering piano in the living room where I spent hours practicing... I sat down before that bay window on a yellow print couch every weekend waiting for my date to pick me up and open the door to romance.

"I can still feel the excitement that was always there for me in that white stucco house with the maroon-trimmed windows. I can still hear the swing music on the old Victrola. I can still see the little brick road that led to our driveway and hear our neighbor, Mary Kaplan, singing her scales in the house next door. It is all there and I relive it every time I close my eyes."
Written by Lynn Ruth Miller and taken from the Coming Home issue of The Rocking Chair Reader.

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