Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Depression Moves into My Studio


My grandparents, Tom and Josephine O'Shaughnessy, lived for some time on Moody Avenue in Chicago. We lived only blocks away, in my early childhood, and we visited them often. Their home was typical of a couple who raised their children during the Depression. A few good pieces of solid wood furniture, but mostly hand-me-downs from others, a real hodge-podge of style. But, it was warm, comfortable and inviting. It was my grandmother who taught me to always offer coffee and something to eat to any guest who visited. She also read me my first poetry as she was a published poet herself. She would have me sit at her feet while sitting in her rocker, reading her own poetry and the poems of her mother, to me.  I loved her dearly and still cannot believe I was only seven when she died, as my recollections of her are so strong. 

It's those memories that are forefront as I create my little writers studio. After repainting the walls a neutral grey and leaving the window trim and loft beams, deep red, I gathered all the vintage rugs we had from the old farm house and covered the contemporary vinyl floor from wall to wall. The large red rug above was a giveaway to us over 20 years ago, I have no idea how old it is, but we had thousands of family meals over that thing as it sat in our dining room. You can't see it in the pics, but there is a metallic green paint spot in the middle. A gift from a grandchild, which makes the rug that much more valuable to me.

My recent score is the matching couch and chair (above) which I found on Craigslist. It too has a story. Purchased in 1935 by a young farm couple in rural Melvin, Illinois, this Sears brand set was their "company furniture". Long since passed, their grandson, about my age, told me of visiting his grandparents often but never being allowed to sit in the front room where the matched pair resided. That room was only used when the pastor or other important folk dropped by.




Consequently, the two pieces are in excellent shape for their age and much smaller than they appear. My feet rest firmly on the ground when I sit in the armchair which is a thrill, because at 5ft 1in my feet often end up dangling mid air Lily Tomlin style.

Image result for lily tomlin in the big rocking chair




My kids don't think much of the furniture with its flowered seats and mossy green upholstery, wondering why I would spend money on something that was-For Gods Sake-over 80 years old, but they're young and not too sentimental as a rule. I have a feeling though my GK's will like them. I hope so because I plan to leave them the pair. After I have them sit at my feet and listen to MY poetry.

Next up for my studio: the conversion of my parents 1950's buffet into a desk, the hanging of vintage artwork for the walls (I have a few Andrew Wyeth prints that will fit ) and lots of shelves for lots of books. Oh, and some sort of small wood stove or propane heater. Eventually electricity would be fab as well.

32 comments:

  1. I think you should ask the grandchildren for some pictures. They might surprise you.

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  2. Love love love this! Vintage rocks. Good for you and good for you! the

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    1. Vintage is the best and I'm not just saying that because I'm vintage age myself. Well, yes I am.

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  3. I'll bet the frame of those pieces is solid wood and heavy, so different from what you would get with today's sofas. I actually quite like the colour. -Jenn

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    1. They were heavy! And the color does grow on you, even better if mold grows on it I'll never know.

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  4. I'm loving it,I feel right at home just looking a the photos. It is also exactly what I'm looking for,I covet from afar.

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    1. I'll meet your covet and raise you one 1930's type lamp. Which I am still looking for.

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  5. This is absolutely lovely. I would have been thrilled to death to find those chairs!

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  6. At one time, you could order ANYTHING from a Sears catalogue!!! I'm a big fan of the comfy, over-stuffed, fan back library chair that you can snooze in while waiting for Miss Marple. And some children, no matter how gently raised, have no taste at all.

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    1. "some children, no matter how gently raised, have no taste at all." Think I'll have that painted on a wall somewhere. Brilliant.

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  7. Love it!!! But you knew I would!

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  8. Love it!!! But you knew I would!

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  9. I have 3 x 3 seaters that are dark green in our media room. Im not allowed to get rid of them (seriously, who owns this house) as they were delivered at exactly the same time i was giving birth to Tom (my son, 19, Aspergers). Hes very sentimental about them. Im not allowed to even cover them. They are so dark, now that we have dark bamboo floors. Im leaving them to him, in my will. Its a pity they are so well made (i know, not very thrifty), they'll still be around in 80 years, im sure.

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    1. Thrifty is relative. When you buy quality things and they are still around long enough to gift to a relative, that's pretty thrifty.

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  10. It looks so cozy. It's lovely that you have such beautiful memories of your grandmother.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. She was the quintessential Irish Grannie, she was.

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    2. I had a Norwegian Nana, but I barely knew her.

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  11. Love the chair and "davenport"! I have a set bought at auction for $90 almost 20 years ago. They were red plush - the kind of picky plush you didn't want to sit on whilst wearing shorts. I had them reupholstered 18 years ago and I love them still even though they've darkened with age. (Not dirty, oh no!) I'm seriously considering have them done again, I like them so much and I don't think I'd find new ones I could afford with the quality they have.

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    1. Mine were $125 for the pair and worth every cent.

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  12. The whole room looks so comfy and inviting.

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    1. I love our new tiny grain bin house which is open dedign, light and airy, but there were things I really missed about our old place. So I put those items I loved, but couldn't fit in the studio. Now I can travel back and forth between the two buildings, the two worlds.How existential of me. Yes?

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  13. What a comforting inviting room, and the rugs to help against the chill. The furniture is solid and will endure. I wish I was that solid at this time.

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  14. You got a second bathroom in that joint??? If you haven't already, you will soon get to the age when a bathroom becomes your second most essential room . . .

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    1. Don't need one. We have wonderful outhouse just outside which was our main bathroom for 6 months while we built our grain bin house, which does have a conventional toilet. There's about 500 feet between the two buildings so I'm happy to have the outhouse close.

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  15. We have two old but very comfy armchairs (and a Chesterfield) that need upholstering. Very old, inherited them, and I'd love to hear the stories they could tell. Your writing studio looks fab.

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    1. I too wish furniture could talk. Instead when I acquire a new (old) piece, I do often write on the bottom of it where it came from and the year purchased. Some day, someone, might care.

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  16. It's looking cozy! Good memories make for good atmosphere and that's what a writer needs. I like it.

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