Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Back at you
All things old are new again.
Tory Burch and Trina Turk
have made millions knocking
off the contents of Palm Beach
matron's closets. It's amazing
how many of the things that
I grew up with are now back,
Stereos, LPs, and 8-Tracks!
Well... almost... everything.
Beyond chintzy
Fortunately "Colonial" decor has
yet to make a comeback. As a boy
my Mother filled our home with
maple, chintz, and knotty pine.
During the sixties, she shifted from
a mid century scheme of aqua and
rust to mod mix of avocado, gold,
and blue. We felt fortunate in that
Ethel avoided using the obvious -
revolutionary red, white, and blue!

Totally revolutionary.
Who knows what started such a
national compulsion of historic
proportions. Bringing Up Baby,
Christmas In Connecticut, or
Lucy's move to Westport? Post
war America embraced almost
any reference to times past.

Past imperfect
Mother loved any iconographic
blast from the past. Drums,
spinning wheels, iron stoves,
and militia men held places
of honor in our home. Often
as lamps topped with ruffled
crinoline lampshades.

History reproduced, literally.
Later on Ethel moved to a higher plane
embracing all things Williamsburg. Our
annual spring break was a pilgrimage to
mecca. Ethel would pick up a plethora
of decorating ideas. Hence in a place of
honor on our "Queen Anne" coffee table
sat the Craft House, Ethan Allen, and
Pennsylvania House catalogs. Ready as
needed for easy reference, inspiration,
or stylistic affirmation!
Tidewater Tsunami.
The final crescendo of Mother's colonial
compulsion came when we purchased a
retirement home near the James River.
For over twenty years Mom and Dad
strolled Duke of Gloucester Street every
afternoon. At all other times Ethel was
never happier than when she was sitting
on her screened porch in 90% humidity
surrounded by her beloved boxwood,
magnolia, redbud, dogwood, and azalea.

Southern hospitality
My parents loved Virginia and
enjoyed entertaining in their new
abode. Thus for many years a
steady stream of northerners
made an annual pilgrimage way
down south to their "plantation."
Totally NUTS
Mother hosted her guests in "colonial"
splendor. Her table set with octagonal
ironstone, purposefully dulled pewter,
hurricane shades, and polished brass
candlesticks. Along with a Smithfield
ham from across the James, Mother
always served Cream of Peanut Soup.
Not just conversation starter, it's quite
delicious. I share her cherished recipe
she once stole from a local tavern.
Cream Of Peanut Soup

1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 quarts good chicken stock
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 3/4 cups light cream

Saute onion and celery
in butter until soft, not brown.
Stir in flour until well-blended.
Add chicken stock
stirring constantly.
Bring to a boil.
Remove from heat.
Rub through a sieve.
Add peanut butter and cream,
stirring to blend thoroughly.
Return to low heat, do not boil.
Garnish with chopped peanuts.