It Was Too Big / Era Demasiado Grande

La versión español está después de la versión inglés.

My parents’ first apartment, in 1950, was only 2 bedrooms but the rooms must have been huge. The furniture they bought for that apartment was massive. Among the living room pieces were a custom-made oversized club chair (occupied by my sister and me in the top photo) and couch. The couch was 9 feet long — even when measured by a woman. And it weighed a ton (more or less).

My trendy mother The Dowager Duchess had custom summer slip covers made that were bold and daring — stripes to cover the nubby salmon-colored club chair and floral for the coffee-colored sofa. Along with the abstract expressionist drapes, it was a combination I would have blogged about. When we moved to Long Island in 1956, the new house had plenty of room for all the oversized furniture.

The apartment in Brooklyn 8 years later was also spacious enough to comfortably accommodate everything. We arrived at the apartment and waited for the movers. The driver came upstairs and informed my parents that the couch wouldn’t fit in the elevator. My father said he would make it worth their while if they carried it up the 16 flights of stairs.

The two movers looked near death when they finished. My mother always bragged that my father gave them a beer and an extra $5 tip. “Each! she said.”

Less than 6 years later, my parents redid the living room. My father sawed the old couch in half to haul it down in the elevator. When we had the two pieces in the hall, a neighbor, Frances, saw us.  (Frances regularly locked herself out of her apartment when she went to dump the trash. Her husband, Eddie, turned off his hearing aids and pretended not to know she was out there. “Eddie! Opem Op!” she’d wail.)

“Vat heppened?” she asked in her heavily accented English. She knew my parents were redecorating.

My father explained the couch wouldn’t fit in the elevator.

“Oy gevalt,” she shrieked. “Such a sin to hev to cut up a brend new sofa!”

El primer apartamento de mis padres, en 1950, era solo de 2 habitaciones, pero las habitaciones deben haber sido enormes. Todos los muebles que compraron para ese apartamento eran enormes. Entre las piezas de la sala de estar había una sillón de gran tamaño (ocupada por mi hermana y yo en la foto arriba)) y un sofá. El sofá tenía 9 pies de largo — incluso cuando fue medido por una mujer. Y pesaba una tonelada (más o menos).

Mi Madre de moda, The Dowager Duchess, tenía unas fundas de verano hechas a medida que eran atrevidas: rayas para cubrir el sillón de color salmón y flores para el sofá de color café. Junto con las cortinas expresionistas abstractas, era una combinación sobre la que habría escrito en mi blog. Cuando nos mudamos a Long Island en 1956, la nueva casa tenía mucho espacio para todos los muebles de gran tamaño.

El apartamento en Brooklyn, 8 años después, también era lo suficientemente espacioso para acomodar todo cómodamente. Llegamos al departamento y esperamos a los muders. El conductor subió las escaleras y les informó a mis padres que el sofá no cabía en el ascensor. Mi padre dijo que valdría la pena si lo llevaban por los 16 tramos de escaleras.

Los dos hombres miraron cerca de la muerte cuando terminaron. Mi madre siempre se jactó de que mi padre les dio una cerveza y una propina adicional de $5. “¡Cada uno! dijo ella.”

Menos de 6 años después, mis padres rehicieron la sala de estar. Mi padre cortó el viejo sofá por la mitad para bajarlo en el ascensor. Cuando tuvimos las dos piezas en el pasillo, salió un vecino elegante llamado Frances. (Frances se encerraba regularmente fuera de su apartamento cuando iba a tirar la basura. Su marido, Eddie, apagó sus audífonos y fingió no saber que ella estaba allí. “¡Eddie! ¡Abre la puerta!” ella lloraria

“Vat heppened? (Qué pasó)” preguntó en un inglés muy acentuado. Ella sabía que mis padres estaban redecorando.

Mi padre explicó que el sofá no cabía en el ascensor.

“Oy gevalt (Dios mío),” ella gritó. “¡Qué pecado tener que cortar un sofá nuevo!”

My father with a great-niece, nursing an ailing back on the fading old couch in 1967. / Mi padre con una sobrina nieta, cuidando a una espalda enferma en el viejo sofá descolorido en 1967.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

24 thoughts on “It Was Too Big / Era Demasiado Grande”

  1. Great posting, I can hear the accents in the dialogue. We just gave away a huge leather sofa that fit the living room in the house, and there was no way would fit in the condo. The mover’s daughter is moving to her first apartment, with a massive Italian leather sofa. At least we didn’t have to saw it in half.

    1. David,
      No chance of reupholstering that sucker either! So glad the mover’s daughter can use yours.

  2. The lengths we go to!
    I am wondering how you mother would have reacted to your ‘plaid/stripe’ clothing photos? The 60’s were full of mixes/matches(?) if I remember correctly.
    Sixteen flights?! I am exhausted just thinking about that!
    But it all worked out in the end I guess.

    1. Jim,
      My mother never had much to say about my fashion blog posts. Hmmm… Her mix and match style was in the early to mid 50s. It must have been in fashion.

    1. Cheapchick,
      It was a great couch. Solid, sturdy, and comfortable. Real quality. 5 bucks and a beer, can you imagine. That seems cheap to me even for 1964.

  3. Hey, five dollars was a lot of money back then, so I’ve heard *cough*. You always look surprised in your baby pictures, whereas you’re plotting something in the mature *cough, cough* ones.
    My son walked into our lovely, cozy hovel and asked if we ever watched the show “Hoarders”. What a scamp!

    1. Deedles,
      You’re too young (cough) to appreciate that, even then, $5 was not worth the effort. My mother came close to hoarding. If it weren’t for her hospital stays, when I CLEANED, it would have been awful.

    1. Wilma,
      And it was such good quality, the two photos exes did actually stand on their own. I wanted half for my bedroom. That suggestion got an eye roll.

  4. I understand that modern New York apartments are not nearly so big as the ones you had! Those were the days.

    1. Debra,
      Yes they were. You should see the size of the bedrooms in our current apartment. We had closets bigger than these!

    1. anne marie,
      My mother was very trendy and cool, so I’m sure it was “the look” in NYC at the time. Shocking.

    1. I was once a pallbearer at a funeral. My great-uncle. It’s a Catholic funeral so the service is at the church rather than the funeral home. But the church was being renovated, so the service was held in the basement, and once it was over with, we had to carry the casket upstairs in order to get it into the hearse to take to the cemetery. That was something!

      What you wrote about bringing a couch upstairs just made me think of that.

      1. Kirk,
        Jerry’s mother was buried with her bowling ball. Yes, really. The church had a grand, steep, stone staircase out front. Jerry cousins were pallbearers and he warned them to not tilt the casket too much or the bowling ball would roll. He was kidding, but they gasped.

    2. Bob,
      When we emptied my mother’s apartment we had that problem even with the good quality stuff. Goodwill would pick things up but we had to haul it all down to the curb in the morning and leave it for them. Are they kidding? A city neighborhood of 24 story buildings? All that work and by the time they arrived it would have all been taken away by others. We paid a hauling service and I’m sure they made a killing selling much of it.

  5. Oooh, a club chair. I want a club chair. I want to be able to say, “Please, take a seat in the club chair.” Just saying “club chair” is fun. I think, however, that it should be capitalized, to wit: Please keep the cat off the Club Chair. I’m shopping for some new fabric for the Club Chair. Take care not to dribble your Champagne on the Club Chair!

    1. Walt the Fourth,
      Is club chair not a term you used? My mother had it reupholstered in 1970. It cost more than a new “club chair.”

      1. Walt:
        That’s fascinating. I never realized that was such a localized term. Jerry’s family didn’t have “club chairs” either, but… well… South Dakota. We have two “club chairs” now, a lot smaller than the one pictured but similar in style… if not quality. I guess I should stop calling them that. It’s easy at least in Spanish; I call them sillones.

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