The Living Room - 1979

Of all the home improvements Mom inflicted upon our poor house, this was the one that Dad and I resented the most. What you see here is the mirrored interior of a huge, ghastly display case we got at a drug store. It had been used to show off colognes and perfumes. The drug store was either going out of business or remodeling, I don't remember which, and Mom bought two of these. (The other was placed in our rather cramped pool hall/garage, where one had to be very careful with the cue sticks.) They could be lit by fluorescent lamps which were mounted inside the top. They were also lockable, and Mom took advantage of this. After all, when the things were lit, people passing by could cross the lawn, press their noses to the windows of our living room and gawk at Mom's desirable doll collection, and make plans to relieve her of them. Needless to say we didn't unlock it to dust very often.

Dad and I wished someone would relieve us of them, but nobody ever did.

The dolls were mostly assembled and painted by Mom herself. When Mom moved out of the house she sold the display cases and packed the dolls - badly - in big round cardboard barrels, where some of them got broken. After she died my wife and I sorted through them, selling many and picking out the best ones for our girls to keep.

My wife and I have speculated about my mother's love of girlish things (Shirley Temple films and memorabilia, dolls, doll houses, etc.), and have come to the conclusion that it may have been due to the fact that her own mother died when she was only four or so. Perhaps she felt cheated out of her girlhood, which she could afford to recapture later on. Whatever the reason, Mom collected collections only to later give them up for a fraction of their original prices. The dolls you see here were one of those collections, and replaced the demi-tasse cups and saucers that were in the curio cabinet located in the very same spot several years earlier.

You can see the reflection of yet another sofa, this one in a dark brown and white phony plaid (the Clan Levitz). It was upholstered in one of those heavily Scotchgarded polyester fabrics. I have always had rough, chapped hands, and running my hand across it was like smearing complementary pieces of velcro together.

Next photo, into the kitchen

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