A Thing for Old Things

Homeporn. I have a problem. I can easily lose a day on home decor websites. I admit the the love of moving because it affords me the opportunity to live in a different place to decorate.Yes, I move a lot. I’m trying to change that habit. My favorite reoccurring dream is the one where I discover a new room in the house or apartment where I’m currently living. Oh, the possibilities!

I’ve had a fascination with old homes and antiques for as far back as I could remember. My parents had this thing way back when a form of weekend entertainment included us checking out houses that were for sale. I’ll never forget the day I discovered my dream home. It was a Victorian house that had been on the market for a while, not too far from where we lived, on Long Island.

I’m not sure if my folks ever had any intention of us moving (likely not as they are still living in the same house), but I’d get my hopes up, because I loved the idea of living somewhere new. Or rather, old. The older the home, surely the more stories it contains, right?

At this Victorian, there was a little house behind the main grand structure that the realtor told my parents had originally been a dollhouse for the little girl who lived there back at the turn of the century. Immediately connecting with this child, I began imagining a life for her, what she looked like, what kind of dresses she wore and how her hair had to have long banana curls with ribbons. I walked inside of her dollhouse and about melted into a puddle of bliss. The smell of old wood. The sight of peeling wallpaper. It was otherwise bare but even at age 9, I could see the potential. I came home and started on my plans to transform the dollhouse into my own little hideaway. I drew up a crude floor plan and picked out paint color (pink, duh). I sifted through my mother’s home mags for furniture and decor ideas (if only Pinterest had existed back then). I envisioned decoupaged dressers, porcelain dolls and tiny teacups. Perhaps a chandelier that held candles. A love for Victoriana was born.

My heart still aches for that house. Perhaps I later found that little girl’s scrapbook at an antique mall several years ago? Not likely hers, but I can still pretend.

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When I saw this at an antique mall, I had to have it!
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Take a peek inside Cristelle Shugart’s scrapbook

The book’s pages are all but disintegrating at this point, so one has to take great care not to disrupt the glued holiday cards (they sent cards for midsummer back then?), cutouts from seed packets, a World’s Fair child’s ticket and stickers (yes, even back then, kids love stickers!) It also contains a composition of essays held together with discolored pink ribbon.

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Cristelle wrote these sizzling essays when she was just 10 years old!
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Hey, I get it. I don’t love beer either!

I need to devote another blog post to this fabulous find.

It’s really no shock at all that I fell in love with New Orleans as soon as I landed here 20 years ago. This city has a reverence for the past that is arguably the strongest in America. Sometimes to a fault. I felt New Orleans had been waiting for me, for that child yearning to live in a very old home. I’ve lived here 5 years now, but I still wander around the tiny streets and imagine past lives of the people who lived in these Creole cottages. I guess we never really do grow up.

One of this past summer’s key moments included my time spent at the historical and beautiful Bywater Wonderland doing research on the story that’s featured in the fall issue of Faerie Magazine. If you read the article (why not subscribe? It’s a dreamy magazine), you’ll see that I might have been trying to figure out a reason to get a glimpse of the inside of this captivating house for some time now.

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Me, in my vintage tea party dress & Editor in Chief of Faerie Magazine, Carolyn Turgeon, at Bywater Wonderland June 2016. Image courtesy of Steve Parke Photography

My favorite thing about writing is simple: it enables you to relive or reimagine one of your own stories… or make up something entirely new, inhabit a completely different place. I vow that some day, I’ll live in that Victorian home with a dollhouse.

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Image courtesy of Steve Parke Photography

 

 

4 thoughts on “A Thing for Old Things

  1. I read this aloud to John because his imagination bounds to heights beyond my own(imagine inter galaxy travel)……but one part of him is from a different time. When we up graded his bedroom, he specifically asked for a “bed like they have in Paris”. Which came to light as a brass or wrought iron bed. He has one now and his room is a mass up of toys, original collected art work, antiques, anything Paris( he may have live there in another life) and video gaming consoles. He loves old globes, bird cages, suitcases and lamps. The guy could spend hours in Antique stores. He’s more excited to check out the antique market on Magazine than Sucre(luckily, we do both)……he rather enjoyed hearing your article, which brought on a discussion of his love of “old things”

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