Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Home for the Holidays~ or ~ Keeping up with the Jameses.


  Christmas 1965 has come and gone, and now 1966 will begin.
 It is New Years day, and the James family are having their annual get together.

      Their house is on Yardley Road, about half way between the village of Yardley
        and the town of Morrisville just to the south.

Jack James has come home from New York to see his Mother and Grandmother.
The two have lived there together since his Father went off to war in 1942,
and never returned.

He has invited his new friend Daphne to join in the celebrations.
Ophelia, her Boxer companion, always well behaved, has been invited also.
Greeting them in the foyer he explainded- "Nothing in this house has changed since the day the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor. Mother and Gram have kept everything as it was when Father left. They still believe he may walk in the door some day!"

He continued with-
"Their only concession has been a TV in the kitchen for Esther- she runs the house-and us."

Harvey, their little dog was very interested in making Ophelia's acquaintance.

       Jack brought Daphne into the dining room, 
where his Mother and Gram were setting up for the buffet.

           "How wonderful that you could join us my dear" 
said Sylvia ~Jack's Mother
   "We have heard so much about you and your endeavors 
to buy the Skattergood house."

"Yes, I am still waiting while they try and locate Sophia, 
Miss Skattergood's Niece."  replied Daphne

" From what Alice Fulller said, she is the only heir, 
and has no interest in ever returning."

     "No wonder!" jumped in Gram
"Poor Sophia had nothing but misery there, 
we grew up together, and I know!"
       "If I were you I'd find someplace else- nothing but misery and sadness I tell you!"

   "Gram!" Sylvia said "Miss Dalrymple is our guest 
and doesn't want to hear superstitions
and nonsense, besides this is a festive occasion." she finished.

            "Oh please don't worry, I am very interested in what ever history 
you might provide." Daphne replied. 
" I would love to have a chat later if that's agreeable Mrs. James?"

         "Call me Ruth dear, and yes we will have a nice chat- 
I will show you Sophia's chair!" the elder Mrs. James said.
        " I bought it at auction when they closed up the house in Philadelphia.
Something to remember her by."

                     Meanwhile across the hall in the Parlor, Jack's Brother Frederick 
                                   was helping his girlfriend Dolores off with her coat. 
                                                 Glancing over at Daphne she said 
                      "Who's that Freddy -what a get up- is she Amish or something?" 
                                                   "Get me a drinkie poo, will ya?"

  Introductions were made, and Frederick offered to make Daphne a cocktail.
"Haaay!" Dolores shouted- "She's gonna have to get in line!" 

"Mother," Jack said to Sylvia back out in the hall,
"There are Christmas cards here from 1949!"

"Well dear, we haven't meet that many new people since then-
so I just take them down to the post office and resend them."
"That way Gram doesn't feel so lonely."

Going up to powder her nose, Sylvia meet Gram on the stairs.
"Well Sylvie- what do you think- will Daphne be the one?" 
Gram said.

"The one what?" 

"You know, the one to bring our Jackie around, 
so we can get some little feet running around here
before I am dead in my grave!"

"Oh  Gram!" Sylvia replied astonished 
"Don't be absurd- Jack is very happy with John.
If you want to be around little feet- go volunteer at Ginny Ralston's 
nursery school ~honestly!"

Speaking of John, he just came in on a later train from New York.
He snuck in the back door, where Esther was finishing up with the refreshments.

"How's my favorite girl?" John chided - knowing full well Esther did not 
fully approve of his relationship with Jack.

"Favorite indeed," she retorted. 
"Now get out of my way- your blocking my TV, and I am watching my stories!"
That floozy Rachel has almost got Mac to marry her- that tramp!"

"Far be it from me to keep you from your cultural pursuits- where's Jack?"


Before Esther could reply, Sunny, Jack's baby Sister 
came in from the front of the house.
Esther had a new focus for her scorn.
"Sunny!" she barked "You've come to your Mother's party dressed like that?"
"Trousers!" she continued...
"You look like you are going camping for heavens sake!"

Meanwhile, back in the parlor- old friends of Jack and Frederick had arrived,
Alfie Popacheck and his wife Louise.

Alfie was demonstrating the new act he had put together 
for the talent contest coming up at he Elks club.

        "Your really cute!" Dolores squealed- "Just like a Polish Elvis!"

Lousie was not happy- stepping in she told Delores-
"He's also very married!"

Later that evening

Frederick and his Mother have a heart to heart.
"Frederick, you know I always welcome all my Children's friends into this house,
and all I want is your happiness. But do you really think that this Dolores is the one to 
make you happy?"

"You are my Son, and I know you- you need someone smart, who isn't 
just interested in the party life." she paused and then continued
"Just look at Daphne- Jack's friend- not only is she pretty- but she has interests beyond what's in the latest fashion magazine."

Frederick, didn't want to admit to his Mother, that he was already 
thinking about Daphne-in fact from the minute they met, 
he had been thinking about her.
So all he said in reply was, 
"Well Mother, I will take what you said under consideration."

Returning downstairs he found Dolores had removed some of the garland
from the Christmas tree and wrapped it around herself like a boa!

"Dolores, I think it's time I got you home." 
he said.
"Oh, Freddy, don't be such a kill joy." 
she slurred...
"One more drinky poo!"

Esther and Sunny were looking on to see what Frederick would do.
"Well," Esther said to Sunny- "You may dress like a mechanic- but at least you
aren't cheap Christmas trash!"


Upstairs in her study Ruth showed Daphne Sophia Skattergood's chair.
"Yes, after Albert went off to India, or some such place, they sold off the Philadelphia
house and everything in it." Ruth told Daphne. 
"I had to have something to remind me of my dear friend~ 
this was from her bedroom there.

They sat for some time, and Ruth tried to fill Daphne in on as much 
information as she could about the family whose home she was attempting to buy.

"But you must go see Lydia Snodgrass, down at the library on Lake Afton."
Ruth told Daphne,
"She can give you the complete history- I am old now
and have forgotten so much."
"Ignore what I said earlier dear, buy that house, and make it a happy one!"

Daphne kissed the old woman good night, 
and wished her all the happiness
of the New Year.

She met Frederick on the stairs as she prepared to leave.
"Thank goodness you are still here!" 
he said catching his breath.
"I hurried back, afraid I wouldn't see you again, 
can I see you again Daphne?"


Ophelia and Harvey watched from the landing,
and both were very interested 
in what her reply might be.

All the best to everyone for the New Year!

*Just a note to say this is an old house I found some years back.
I had won a different house at an online auction, and when I went to pick it up-
there this house sat. I convinced the dealer to let me purchase this one instead,
thinking some day I would get around to restoring it.
I decided not to- these are not typically colors I would choose- and yet like 
many "real life" design jobs- I found it more of a challenge to work 
with what was there. Besides the colors truly capture the era of the late 30's when
the house might have been built.
Just as in "real" life- if we truly listen... houses will tell us what to do, and not.


  1. Your story is very funny. Its a good way to show off the house, which is very nice! Looking forward to seeing more. Best wishes for the New Year - Troy

    1. Thanks Troy, It is a way to indulge in two passions of mine at the same time!
      Of course finding the time is the only challenge.
      Thanks again, Philip

  2. Such a fun story with interesting characters. Great find on the house, Philip! Can hardly wait for the next installment of the story! xo Jennifer

    1. Thanks Jennifer, I wish i could say all the characters were completely from my imagination- but they are not!
      What did Tolstoy say- "All happy families are alike- each unhappy family is unhappy in it's own way."
      All the best for the New Year!

  3. Philip, can I come live in your story? Wow, you certainly captured this family. So many people think the 1960s was only Mid-Century Modern, and the 1930s was only Art Deco or Art Moderne. While I am in love with both styles, I know that 1930s through the 60s involved ordinary people with furniture that may have been handed down generation after generation. In fact, the poverty of the depression years, and the rationing of WWII made it more likely that a house such as yours would look like yours does. That's what is so enchanting about it- realism. It brings back memories of older people from my childhood. Very well done! :@)

    1. Thank you so much Neen,
      You express exactly what I was trying to capture - those wonderful multi-generational homes many of us knew.
      In my job as a designer I am often called upon to create completely "new" looks for clients, but my favorite type of home is one that mixes
      all the old and new. There is nothing so void of personality than a house where everything looks as if it all was delivered on a truck yesterday!
      I think the Jameses have one spare bedroom still available - I will ask them to reserve it for you!
      All my best,

  4. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this house, Philip!!! And the story you are weaving around it is just Awesome! I am so glad you didn't re-do the house into something more modern... the way it is just feels SO Authentic! I have spent much of my life inside houses just like this one (in RL scale ...! LOL)(Part of the time as a House-cleaner... partly as the resident or relative.... I LOVE the atmosphere you have created!!! I can't wait to hear more about all your people...!!!(Someone else with lots of little people to get to know...!!!)I think one of the reasons I have not made any more changes to my Lovely Old Dollhouse is because I can't bear to make it any more modern than when I first got it way back in 1959....!!! Your House is just an Older and more Elegant version than mine... I can't wait to see more!!!

    1. Thank you Betsy,
      I am glad that you too love the character of the old houses- and yet I have seen your creations, and you have been able to create that wonderful patina of age! I have one house I have created from scratch - that will play a part in the story as it continues... if it's ready by then!
      I am not as brave as so many of our fellow bloggers to show the step by step process- perhaps that comes from years of having client's
      "nit-pick" when jobs are not installed all at one time. Thank you again for your appreciation!

  5. I love your story Philip, some how I just knew Delores would wind up wrapping herself in tinsel!!

    I agree with keeping the house as you found it and i'm amazed at the time it must take you to arrange your dolls and take the creative!

    best wishes for the New Year.

    Fi x

    1. Thank you Fiona,
      We all know a Delores, maybe some of us even have a bit of Delores in us?
      I saved her from even more embarrassing exploits! To me, when I look at these "dolls",
      their character is written all over their face.
      All the best to you for the New Year!

  6. Phillip your house is wonderful and I agree with you that by renovating it you would lose some of its charm. I enjoyed your story very much and can't wait to see what happens next. You chose perfect dolls for your characters. Your pictures and room settings are great too. Happy New Year.

    1. Thank you Susan,
      I am glad you like the house in it's original state, one thing I may do is paint all the ceilings white. They way I found it- whoever painted
      the rooms carried the gloss enamel paint colors right up over the ceilings. The wiring to all the old lights need to be redone too- just like
      in "Real" old homes- the list never ends!
      All the best for the New Year!

  7. Hi Philip, LOVED the story --though it was a bit frighteningly close to some of my own family gatherings! "Is she Amish?" made me scream! And that HOUSE! It's just a treasure and so sensitively restored. Maybe you could cut new, white ceilings from illustration board, which could be easily removed, if needed?

    1. Thanks John,
      That's a great idea for the ceilings- I think I'll try it.
      I think some of my own Family "issues" are being exorcised in this story!
      Glad you are back in the Blogosphere!

  8. Wello Philip,i didn't no if you see this message to you in my blog, if its not its here: in Buenos Aires Argentina. best regards
    its about art nouveau

    1. Thank you Cunha,
      I appreciate your letting me know.
      All the best for the New Year!

  9. What a story... :)
    I`ll be waiting to see what will happen next!
    Happy I found your Blog!

  10. Thank you Kikka,
    There will be a new post soon!

  11. Hello Philip, your house looks AMAZING! The story and characters bring your house such atmosphere and charme.
    Looking forward to your next post.
    gr. AM

    1. Thank you AM,
      I appreciate your interest, the story will continue soon. I have a virtual MGM back lot of "properties" that will be
      woven into the narrative.

  12. The house is charming, the occupants delightful and how I laughed reading their escapades!

  13. Hi Philip, I hope to see another story from you soon. Your posts are so interesting and fun. You're just so darn creative! Miss you. :-( xo Jennifer

  14. Dear Jennifer, So kind of you to reach out- I hope to have another post very soon- it's in the works! Fortunately I have been busy traveling all over with my interior design projects, alas little time left to get a post together. The story is all written- I just need to get my "characters" together in front
    of the camera. Thank you again for the appreciation. By the way- great Halloween costume!

  15. Preciosas escenas de miniaturas.No me he podido resistir a hacerme seguidora.
    Un abrazo

  16. Hello Philip, I am SO GLAD to have 'happened' upon you blog. I am not even finished with the unfolding drama of the JAMESES and their guests, and I already feel compelled to contact you! Thank you for setting the scene, and providing the narrative 'action,' which truly brings to 'life' these little tableaux which you have so lovingly depicted. My little 1940's house, which is still a work in progress, is so sterile, and devoid of the 'life' which you seem to effortlessly convey. Perhaps this will change when I finally find the 'inhabitants' of my house. I am going to have to portion my viewings of your blog in order to prolong my immense enjoyment. I, too, look forward to forthcoming installments. Upon reading of your 'likes', two songs immediately spring to my mind---'OPHELIA' from 'Blackout AD Beyond the Ruins' various artists CD, and 'THE BONNY SWANS' from 'The Mask and Mirror' by LOREENA MCKENNITT. I assure you they will be right up your alley! Enjoy! Kevin

    1. Dear Kevin,
      Thank you so much for your appreciation of my little story! I hope you have the perseverance to follow the previous plot that leads
      up to "Keeping up with the James." The next installment is almost ready- it's such a nuisance when "real" life gets in the way.
      I have always loved Loreena McKennitt's music- but I couldn't find Ophelia from Blackout AD, now I am intrigued! Thank you again,
      and I would love to see photos of your little house, which waits for it's inhabitants.

  17. Hello again, Philip. I am VERY excited to announce, that after several years of exhausting (and seemingly fruitless) search, I have AT LAST found the 'inhabitant' of my dreams! I feel it is important that you be the first person to 'meet' Earnest. However, I am rather inept at all the intricacies of computer correspondence, and I am stymied as to how I go about posting some photos to your blog. Would you please be so good as to contact me through my email address, as I would then be able to send some photos of Earnest to you. I can be reached at I look forward to making the 'introductions'. Kevin

  18. Hello Kevin, I am honored to be the first to meet Earnest, but prefer not to use my personal email. Perhaps you can post a link in a reply to this site?
    I too, am not the most up to date with all the technology of "modern" communications- I think given a choice I would still be writing letters by hand!
    How wonderful you finally found an inhabitant worthy of living in your house- I would love to see pictures of that also, perhaps you need to start a blog!. Philip

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  20. Ahhh.....I completely understand your desire for anonymity. Besides, it lends you an air of alluring mystique. I have recently started a BOARD on PINTEREST titled DOLLHOUSE. I have re-pinned Earnest at the top of my board. He is GERMAN, circa 1900, and is SO beautiful for his age that I ALMOST named him DORIAN! As he has been sold, you will have to backtrack to the 'original listing' on eBAY, in order to see other photos and read of his impeccable attributes. I have him pinned next to his 'sister' INGRID (meaning 'beautiful') whom I JUST purchased on Ruby Lane. She is circa 1920's/30's. I am going to provide her with a complete makeover, and she will emerge dressed in a simple, little girl's frock of 1920's/30's pattern. (Think BESSIE PEASE GUTMANN) I am on a winning streak. The REAL challenge now, I am afraid, will be to find a boyfriend who is worthy of Earnest! I wish we could continue this tete-a-tete in another venue, as I feel guilty crowding your blog with 'comments' that are not related directly to it. Kevin
    On a sad note, Earnest had been listed along with a female 'companion' with whom he has been inseparable for over a hundred years. I would have DEARLY LOVED to have been able to keep them together, but alas I am unable to afford to do so. She is to be sold, I believe, either later today, or tomorrow. TRAGIC, is it not?

  21. SORRY, I forgot to include the link...