|Miami Art Deco stamps © Evan Seuren (2013)|
Richard Critchfield, Those Days: An American Album. New York: Dell, 1986, pp. 375-376—
The dining table [in the family's house] was round and solid oak, an extension table Jim bought when he was in medical school. The extra leaves hadn't come with it, so Jim sawed boards to fit, which we used when we needed to expand it for company. This gave the table considerable personality—you couldn't lean on the middle leaves with your elbows, or the other end came up like a teeter-totter and you got your dinner in your lap. The table was always in use. Here we ate on Sundays and holidays, brooded over jigsaw puzzles and chess sets, Monopoly games, Old Maid and ouija boards, built model airplanes, spread out magazines and newspapers, colored pictures with crayons, modeled with clay, wrote to Aunt Mary and Uncle Burke, puzzled over algebra problems, set sacks of groceries, piled up books or just sat and drank coffee and talked. At the height of the Depression there was a spell when everybody who was without work used to come over and spend hours sitting around our dining room table, decorating paper plates. Billy fringed a plate with tiny red diamonds he painstakingly cut from an old pack of cards; he put the Queen of Diamonds in the center. Jimmy cut out characters from "Boots and Her Buddies" and "Thimble Theater" in the funny papers and painted on "Pappy," his nickname for Pat, in gold letters. A friend of Betty's named Elaine dropped in out of the blue and did an exotic ram's-head design. After she'd gone, Billy said, "Elaine always looks like she's been up all night." Betty's comeback: "Probably has."
|Miami Art Deco stamp © Evan Seuren (2013)|
In one corner of the dining room, by the hot-air register, was a big old Morris chair, where Betty, when she still worked at the bakery, would sit and fall asleep, she was so tired. Billy used to say, "Betty's spent half her waking life in a pink chenille robe." The stairwell to the attic was always loaded with things left there by somebody intending to take them up later: books, clothes, tennis rackets, skates, Tinker Toys, little trucks that always seemed to have a wheel missing. Like the road to hell, the stairs were paved with good intentions.