As the below photo from the 1920s shows, my father’s mother had some style. She probably wouldn’t have fit in here in Fuengirola, although her Russian would have come in handy on the Costa del Sol. She was born in Slutzk!
My grandmother died when I was 3 years old. But I remember she had a covered cut-glass dish filled with hard candies with soft raspberry centers. The dish sat on a kidney shaped tea table in the living room and she used the candies to coax me out of my shyness. It always worked.
Como muestra la foto de abajo de la década de 1920, la madre de mi padre tenía algo de estilo. Probablemente no lo habría encajado aquí en Fuengirola, aunque su ruso hubiera sido útil en la Costa del Sol.
Mi abuela murió cuando yo tenía 3 años. Pero recuerdo que ella tenía un plato cubierto de vidrio tallado lleno de caramelos duros con centros de frambuesas suaves. El plato se sentó en una mesa de té con forma de riñón en la sala de estar y ella usó los dulces para sacarme de mi timidez. Siempre funcionó.
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!”
While cleaning out My Mother The Dowager Duchess’s apartment in August, we had some surprises. She and my father purchased their massive bedroom furniture in 1950. I found the original receipt. I have no idea how they afforded it considering the fact that my mother always claimed they were poor. They paid $846 in 1950. In today’s money, that’s equivalent to $8,472.39.
We would have loved to have shipped it here, but it would have cost a fortune. Besides, our largest bedroom couldn’t fit it all. The two dressers together were about 7 feet long.
I found a bunch of doily-like items in black and white. They’re provided free for women to cover their heads at Jewish rites such as weddings, bar mitzvahs, and funerals. Black for funerals, obviously, and white for the happier occasions. Typical of my mother (“I might be able to use it for a project”) she kept every single one. One drawer of the side cabinet in a dresser was filled with them. I laughed when I tossed them all on the bed. But then I discovered that two more drawers were also filled. There were hundreds of them. I can’t imagine that my mother actually went to hundreds of events. I think she stole a lot of them. But, she would argue indignantly, “I didn’t steal them. They put them out for free. I only took some extras… just in case.”
(Click the images for the bigger picture.)
THE TWO DRESSERS THAT WERE STUFFED FULL. TWO LARGE MIRRORS WERE MOUNTED ON THE SAME MAHOGANY.
THE HEADBOARD. THE ONLY PIECE OF FURNITURE THAT WAS EMPTY. (EXCEPT FOR AN OLD, DEAD, LANDLINE TELEPHONE AND A BOX OF TISSUES).
A SAMPLING. MY NEW BUSINESS: BULK ORDERS ONLY. HIGHER RATES FOR THOSE WITH ADORNMENTS.
If you’ve been with me since August, you might remember the huge collection of knitwear, all made by My Mother The Dowager Duchess. In addition to the sweaters pictured in a post from August 25 (click here), I set aside photos of some special ones to share with you when I had the time. Well, I have the time.
Of the items pictured below, I only remember the first, which my mother made some time in the early 1960s. The others were all new to my eyes, so, while sorting through her photos, I was really pleased to find a shot from 1984 of the Duchess wearing the last one.
(Click the images to inspect the workwomanship.)
WITH INDIVIDUAL CRYSTAL BEADS. THIS WAS PAIRED WITH A FLOOR-LENGTH TAPERED BLACK SKIRT (ALSO MADE BY THE DUCHESS). CLASSY.
1984. THE DIFFICULT YEARS SHOW IN HER EYES. (BUT NO DOUBT THAT WAS CLUB SODA IN THE CUP.)
We shipped a few pieces of furniture, some artwork, and two boxes of miscellaneous goods from my mother’s (The Dowager Duchess) New York apartment in late August. It went from there to Amsterdam to Madrid and finally arrived here in Fuengirola today.
New York and Madrid were great — well, except for the guy who incompetently packed the two boxes of miscellaneous goods. So, OK, Madrid was great.
The representative in Amsterdam sat on the shipment for nearly three months. As he explained to San Geraldo, when he finally responded, “It’s a long way from Amsterdam to Spain.”
But, it’s here. And it’s a joy to see my mother’s things in our house — especially my mother’s paintings, sculptures, and needlework.
Today’s photo is an embroidery The Dowager Duchess did more than 25 years ago. It’s 18 x 22 inches (46 x 56cm) and the work is so expert that, at first glance (and sometimes even after careful study), most people think it’s an oil painting.
As we unpack and start to get organized, we’re reminded of — and in awe of — my mother’s exceptional talent. (Click the image to be wowed.)