BROWSING AMONG BOOKS

BROWSING AMONG BOOKS

. . .was what I was doing the other day. I pulled down a dusty old thing I’d bought years ago because printed on the front of the brown linen bound book was a wood cut of a cottage covered in snow. It reminded me of a wood cut I’d made in shop class, lo these many years ago. that ended up in my Junior High School yearbook. Maybe I shouldda stuck to wood cuts!

The book, The Furnishing of a Modest Home, by Fred Hamilton Daniels, was published in 1908 and is in wonderful condition. Plenty of photos of stark mission and/or arts and crafts style rooms and examples of things that made them cozy. Not.

Those were the days of no cushioning on anything. Hard edges, chairs, lighting. Harder horsehair stuffed divans. Nowhere to settle in with a good book. The paintings were nice. Other décor, also. But the author’s choice to include a newspaper clipping from that turn of the century intrigued me. The article is called, “A PRETTY ORNAMENT”, and it’s from a write in column on decorating your home. Let me know what you think.

Dear Sisters- Here are directions for making a very pretty as well as useful ornament where your Thanksgiving turkey feet could be brought into use. I have one, which I have had for 13 years, and just as good and perfect as the day I fixed them. Get one nice turkey foot and leg, up to the first joint. Wash it nicely and allow to dry a little while over the stove or on the kitchen mantel. Now take a grape box cover and cover with black or red velvet or satin as one may fancy. Cut the satin or velvet about half inch larger than box cover, then notch or cut little slits, and stick the velvet or satin, whichever the case may be, down on the wrong side with some glue. This will quickly dry. Then get a small thermometer and prick a little hole to correspond with the thermometer and sew through the board with heavy silk to match in color with velvet or satin. Now, take your turkey foot and give it two or three coats of gold paint (this preserves the foot). Covering all parts with the gold paint, arrange the foot nicely and claws so it will look nice. The next day it will be ready to mount.

The writer of that bit of home décor goes on with directions on how to mount this monstrosity, adding at the end:

Every one that sees mine admires it so much. Very nice for a dining room but mine hangs on my parlor door. Wish someone would try it and report. I think it would repay them for their trouble.

The author of the book was not in favor of this piece de resistance I’m glad to say.

I noticed that my computer program automatically put the accent aigu on the e in décor (voila), but refused to add the appropriate accents to piece de resistance. Why is that, I wonder?

Anyway, I have absolutely no point to make in this recounting of the previous turn of the century’s signature household accoutrements except to say that if that woman, who signed her column as Shut in No. 1 (which temporarily guilted me for citing her idea in a negative way), had had something to read while reclining on a more comfortable piece of furniture than those pictured in this particular book, then I would have had nothing to write about today.

Let’s hear it for gold encrusted turkey feet.

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About Eleanor Ingbretson

Native New Yorker. Transplanted to New Hampshire years ago, but still considered a flatlander by the neighbors. Writer of fantasy and mystery and whatever else takes my fancy.

Posted on May 5, 2016, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. But lava lamps are still popular–or did they make a comeback? Colored appliances are back as well, though I’m pretty certain not the avocado-colored ones. Anything avocado-colored should only be eaten, especially if it comes in the form of guacamole. But I digress. I consider my bed, the most comfortable piece of furniture in the house, the best place for writing, reading, and watching TV. Thank goodness for laptops and Kindles!

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  2. But do we have any right to criticize? Remember lava lamps? Remember orange shag carpeting? Avocado-colored kitchen appliances? And to a mother turkey, “Shut-in”‘s turkey foot might be the equivalent of a bronzed baby shoe. Oh. Wait. Maybe not.

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