Sunday, January 20, 2013
When I was born in 1950 we lived in one of the post-WWII housing boom neighborhoods. As the wealth of my family increased, my parents decided to move to a higher end neighborhood and they had a custom home built. Each of us three kids got our own bedroom.
My sister and I had shared a room before and we would often divide it and not let the other on 'our' side when we were angry. She was (is) three years older than I am and never wanted to play with me. Her side of the room always had the closet but my side of the room had the door. I always thought that was better especially if I could keep her out of our room altogether. Of course, I never could.
In the new house we had to share a bathroom which wasn't so bad as it had two sinks. Our brother had his own bathroom attached to his room which we girls thought was unfair, but then as the only boy and the baby, he got a lot of perks that we didn't.
I think I was about 8 when we moved which would have made my brother 6 and my sister 11. Since us kids were still pretty young, the front room, which would eventually become the formal living room and filled with Louis the XVI spindly legged gilt marble topped tables and carved curvy legged gilt and brocade and satin chairs and sofa, functioned as our playroom.
My parents were upwardly socially mobile and the formal living room was intended for entertaining or for us girls to sit with our dates while the rest of the family hung out in the family room. As it turned out about the only time it got any real use though was Christmas Eve. Our family always dressed formally for Christmas Eve dinner and that is where we would sit after we dressed while we waited for dinner to be served in the formal dining room which was attached.
The formal dining room was also a room that only got used two times a year, Christmas and Easter, as about the time the playroom was converted, my mother was accused of having an affair with the husband of their best friends, something she always denied. She told me once that he named her because she knew who the real paramour was but as far as I know, my mother never revealed the name of the 'other' woman and it wasn't like her to be that selfless.
Anyway, it was a real scandal that my parents never really recovered from socially and it made my mother even more desperate to climb that ladder to the point of denying me friendships with girls who didn't live in the right neighborhoods.
But I digress.
Back in the late 50s when we moved and my mother was furnishing the house, she was in the bargain basement of Foley's downtown looking for furniture for the playroom. She found and bought on the spot a 50s modern plastic leopard print couch.
The story she told was that it had been a special order for a woman who, when she saw it, refused to pay for it because she thought it was the ugliest thing she had ever seen and so it ended up in our playroom. From a distance, because the plastic was textured kind of hair like, it almost looked real. In fact, people often thought it was real leopard skin until they touched it.
The leopard print couch at the beach house. That's my mother on the left looking a little tipsy. As nearly as I can tell this photo was taken in the early 70s.
When the playroom became the formal living room in the 60s, the couch was moved to the beach house where it lived until it got so old and cracked that it would pinch anyone who unwittingly sat on it. Eventually, it was consigned to the dump.
I didn't much care for my mother's taste in furniture but I loved that old couch.