Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dusting memories

While doing the dusting (a chore I will never enjoy), I began thinking about dusting my grandparents’ living room when I was young.

Grandma would put us girls to work doing something to use up all of our energy that was getting on her nerves, I think.

In the middle of my grandparents’ living room stood a long table; it had a drawer in it and a shelf on the bottom. The large legs had rounded feet. There was a lot to dust on that table.

It was what you might call their “entertainment center.”

The drawers had fancy pulls and, as I remember, it contained a magnifying glass, pencils and some writing paper.

It held a stereograph in which you put heavy cardboard photo pairs. You’d slide handle to focus the pictures and make them look three-dimensional. There was a whole box of pictures.

We weren’t allowed to use it unless an adult was with us.

The shelf at the bottom was always left clean for dusting, I suppose. The top of the table had an ecru scarf that went the whole length of the table with crocheted edging and a wide hem from which tassels hung, some of Grandma’s handiwork. There was a matching on top of the piano in the corner of the living room.

A Tiffany-type lamp sat in the middle of the table and when you wanted to work at the table and needed room it could be moved to one side, but grandma used it in the evening when she would sit in her rocker side of the table and with the help of the lamp do her sewing, needlework, mending or sometimes would read.

There was also a hanging lamp in the ceiling that had three bulbs with glass shades that if needed could be turned on for more light.

Grandfather sat on the other side of the table next to the radio, which was against the wall. It was a Stromberg Carlson, if I remember correctly. It sat on tall legs in a wood cabinet which was either walnut or mahogany with ornate wooden decorations. The radio was only turned on when Grandpa turned it on and that was only to listen to the news, a news commentator H.V. Kaltenborn and the singing cowboy Montana Slim.

The radio took electricity and in those days (Grandpa lived through the Depression) you didn’t use electricity except when necessary and limited enjoyment. As in most homes in those days hanging over the radio was a large photograph of Grandpa’s father. Many homes had pictures of their parents and families decorating the living room walls back then.

After the news he would read the daily newspaper and occasionally a few pages of the Reader’s Digest, one of his Christmas gifts along with National Geographic. Children weren’t always allowed to look at that magazine if it had articles from Africa or other eastern countries with pictures of the people in their native dress which sometimes was very limited.

All this came back to me while doing one of the tasks I don’t enjoy, which made the task go quicker.

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