Friday, August 6, 2010

Baby Carriage

Mom in the baby carriage, 1945
click to enlarge


I played sometimes on the fifth floor of the Castle, high above the streets of Brooklyn, in the old servants' quarters.

Sometimes I lit a ghost fire in the long-unused fireplace there, kneeling at the marble hearth to warm myself in its phantom flames.

I peeked into the bathroom, at the enormous claw-foot tub under a steeply slanting ceiling, or into the china storage room, where I liked to imagine the sound of dinner parties, the laughter and conversation, the clink of glass against glass.

I would dare myself to enter the trunk room, a dark interior closet filled with the luggage of long-ago trips--many steamer trunks, their brass fittings blinking in the sudden light.

And it was there I discovered the derelict baby carriage, and filled it with the toys of another childhood, and tended them: the celluloid-faced Humpty-Dumpty, his stripy legs uselessly dangling; the dusty Steiff dogs, a Boxer and an Airedale; the naked baby doll, its two tiny pearly teeth and eyes that opened and shut, eerily, on clever hinges...



40 comments:

Warden Files said...

A splendid journey through the mature eyes of one so young. Your descriptive elegance glints beneath a vast bright sea of endless talent.

Alan Burnett said...

Such descriptive powers, wonderful. I went with you on your journey back through time and saw things through your eyes. And the photos are minor treasures aren't they.

Martin H. said...

I loved this. Isn't it fascinating, the way rooms and objects can hold the past, and release it to you in a moment?

Brian Miller said...

ecellent descriptions leah...i love those places that carry the fragrance of memories...

Vicki Lane said...

What a wonderful place to have been a little girl! Attics always held a similar fascination for me.

Beautiful writing!

Pat said...

What a beautiful intelligence shines out from that babies eyes - your mother.

Everyday Goddess said...

fascinating and beautifully told! i gave you one of my weekly Goddess Awards, which you can collect whenever you want!

The Unbearable Banishment said...

I agree with everyone else. That's a nice picture you painted.

nick said...

Such delicious memories, and so atmospheric. We only had tiny houses where every room was used so there wasn't much scope for secret exploring. I was always out exploring the neighbourhood instead. I knew every little side street and back alley and footpath.

TechnoBabe said...

Wonderful writing leading us through the treasures found and played with.
Congrats on your POTW at Goddess' blog.

Christine H. said...

How beautiful. You painted a picture and I felt as if I was there.

Tattered and Lost said...

I especially love the last shot with the "Where are we going next?" look. Great fun!

gibknitty said...

love the 3rd photo with the little bonnet on.

Betsy said...

lovely...I'd like to see that carriage full of those vintage toys! They sound wonderful!

Leah said...

Warden: thank you for reading, I adore you already. Possibly because you remind me a little of someone I once knew....

Alan: I am so glad to be posting for Sepia Saturday this week! I've missed it a lot. Can't wait to test my internet limits and go a-visiting!

Martin: it is amazing, isn't it. In this case, just the sight of the familiar old pram in the photo jogged my memory...

Brian: the fragrance of those memories are literal and figurative--if I close my eyes, I can still smell the dusty, mysterious scent of the attic...

Vicki: thank you for the compliment! Our attic was, strangely, full of light--I suppose the servants in that house, in the old days, didn't have such bad living quarters.

Leah said...

Pat: it's true--and my mom grew into a wonderful, wonderful woman, too.

Goddess: thank you so much! I do appreciate it, and will be by as soon as I can!

xo

UB: thanks sweetie, you see, it's the strange magical spell of Henry Street...

nick: funny, we didn't do too much exploring of our neighborhood, rather we were often inside, especially in the cold months. I think in a way we might have missed out a little!

Technobabe: thank you for visiting! They really were/are treasures (we still have them)...

Christine: what a lovely compliment.

Tattered: I love that picture too--she really does have a wonderfully compelling expression on her face, I thought.

gibknitty: I always say modern babies aren't wearing bonnets often enough! : ) And by the way, love your avatar.

Betsy: we still have those toys! My mother saved them, and they are displayed around her house. I should try to post a picture of them sometime.

Warden Files said...

It has been many a year since a beautiful young lady has adored me my dear. I believe John Travolta had only just begun to take an interest in dancing.

Barbara and Nancy said...

Please do take a picture of those toys. I feel like I've seen them through your wonderful description but would still like to really see them.
Barbara

corticoWhat said...

Your post awakened memories of how we children begged to be allowed to explore the mysteries of my Grandmother's attic. Such treasures! Thank you.

Baino said...

Gorgeous. I miss 'exploring' for me it was my Nana's cellar, always some mischief to get into there.

mapstew said...

I left a comment earlier, it's been swallowed by the bloggy imps!

I said something along the lines of 'Nothing makes me smile more brightly than a picture of a baby. And I can almost smellthe Castle'!

:¬)

xxx

Eric S. said...

Fabulous memories! A childs imagination is something to be treasured for it seems to last such a short time. I know my own imagination as a child took me places never to be eclipsed.

Nancy said...

I want to go to your attic, but I especially want to see your Steiff Airedale!!!! Please, please post his photo. I enjoyed your descriptions of wandering in the big, old house. I like the photos of your mom.

Leah said...

Warden: well, consider yourself adored by your frowny blonde fan!

Barbara: you've given me the idea of doing a toy post--but I'll have to gather those toys up for a glamour shot.

Cortico: I'm pleased that this post has stirred some good memories for you!

Baino: ooo, a cellar sounds so intriguing. We had one too--many interlocking walls, all concrete. Spooky, and not much in them. My grandma hung her laundry down there sometimes, and I always wondered how she didn't get scared.

Stew: I've been having some trouble leaving comments, too! Oh well. At least you're here! yes, the Castle had a real museum-y smell to it...

Eric: thanks for visiting! Alas, my adult imagination seems equally fruitful, which means that I spend a great deal of time daydreaming when I should be doing grown-up things!

Nancy: The Steiff Airedale is back in Brooklyn, but I have the Steiff Boxer sitting near me as we speak. Those old Steiff creations were so beautiful!

Pat transplanted to MN said...

I could see everything as clear as a photo through your descriptions; I am intrigued with the Humpty with stiped legs...

Very cute baby photos too

PattiKen said...

I am here via The Everyday Goddess. Congratulations on winning her POTW award.

This is just beautiful. You captured the atmosphere so well. And what a place! Does this "castle" exist?

Hunter said...

Gorgeous descriptions here, Leah. Hope the late-night writing is going well.

Peter said...

Glad to be back and reading your stuff here Leah - how I've missed it...
hope you're well
xxx

Madame DeFarge said...

You make the attic sound like a real place of delight. Hope all is well with you.

TICKLEBEAR said...

the 1946 pic is beyond sweetness itself, and your prose is remarkable. i've personally never known attics or basements, as i've always lived in flats, with my parents, and then as an adult. so, exploration was more of a matter of imagination, of which there was no lack of, thankfully...
:D~

Leah said...

Pat: the humpty dumpty is still going strong, on one of my mom's bookshelves. He's charming.

PattiKen: thank you! And yes, the Castle did exist--it was my childhood home, big and dark and gothic, but in some ways a wonderful place to grow up...

Hunter: the late night writing has been stymied the past few nights...by sleep! : )

Peter: wonderful to see you! I will stop by you too--I've missed you. Love the avatar!

Mme: all is well, as well as can be--and I hope by you too!

Ticklebear: thank you for stopping by! I've lived in many apartments too over the years, and I agree--they are very good for honing one's imagination.

Snowbrush said...

My wife is a button collector, and celluloids are one type she collects. They give off fumes that destroy other buttons, so have to be stored separately.

63mago said...

Some dolls, like the teddies, made a sound. They can be pretty creepy in an other surrounding. Or derelict.

Your mother looks like a curious and loved child. Promising. All children are promises in a way.
I feel terribly old today, and will sleep again.

Leah said...

Snow: how strange and interesting--I never knew that! and p.s. I collect buttons as well, but in a very willy-nilly sort of a way...

mago: oh dear, very true, very sort of a poignant idea...I'm sorry you feel old. I know what you mean. Hope sleep helps, my dear.

63mago said...

Hello, maybe this is interesting for you:
http://smalltownnoir.wordpress.com/

Found it via "Nag on the lake" (Blogspot), who was once mentioned by MJ.

Tom said...

loved this...great poetical musing

willow said...

Your writing is always a delight, Leah. I used to light those ghost fires, as well.

lettuce said...

the doll sounds more than a little creepy
and the photos are a delight!

lovely writing

63mago said...

Huhuuu ...!

63mago said...

Oh man, deuterium oxide. Add some bullcrap sulphur.