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Stuffocation, No Breathing

I live in an old house. By Salem, MA standards, she’s a spring chicken. By our standards, however, she’s 109 years old and the first bungalow built in Forney. As a town, we’d only changed our name from Brooklyn a scant 37 years before she was built. That’s old, but old things are something I love, maybe even obsess over. When we moved in, my hoard of old things, my life’s work plucked fresh from its year’s long storage building vacation, moved in with me. This involved a number of family heirlooms including, but not limited to: Aunt Johnnie’s chiffarobe, Annie Mae’s China hutch, Lucille’s vanity, some carnival glass my grandparent’s received as a wedding gift, my Aunt Karen’s milk glass collection she bought with Green Stamps, my collection of varnished turtle shells, huge turn of the century portraits of people I don’t know, the first Barbie & Ken dolls made with molded hair, museum quality art prints and a set of rubber stamps picked from my old elementary school, several globes (I use the “Czechoslovakia vs Czech Republic” rule for age estimating), a series of tiny books written in the 1800’s – in German, and a collection of non-operative typewriters. I am my husband’s literal nightmare. What he sees as a huge annoyance I see as my number one full-time job, Queen of Junk (stop curtsying, please). Two weeks after we moved in, Daniel, my son, completed his service with the US Navy and came home to a house he’d never seen. He liked the house well enough, but his first impression comment was epic. “Mom, this house looks like it was decorated by a prostitute during the civil war, or it’s haunted, or it’s haunted by the civil war prostitute who decorated it.” Guess what? From my vantage point as I’m writing this column I can see, in one room, brocade, flocked wallpaper, tapestries – oh so many tapestries, oceans of gold leaf, a massive oriental rug, beaucoup velvets, and even a few animal prints. Touché, Daniel.


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