Walking through the front door of the house was like walking through some kind of time warp.
There was a large oak settee just inside the door to the left and across the foyer was the huge oak staircase heading to the second floor…big and open staircase…wide enough for 2 people to walk up side by side. The floor was carpeted…but in some kind of broadloom I’d never seen before…the real expensive stuff that has the pattern carved in it as opposed to painted or dyed on it.
In the silence I heard a loud clock ticking and I peeked behind the door to see an enormous grandfather clock with a huge pendulum easily visible through the glass door.
Past the stairs straight ahead of me was a long extra wide hallway. I saw glimpses of very old family pictures on the left side of the wall and a cherry wood Victorian pea shaped desk on the right.
Past the desk there was a door to a kitchen and I could see the hustle and bustle of a large “kept” kitchen, the maple cupboards, the cook top and part of the sink visible from where I stood. To the left of the door was a hallway disappearing further into the depths of the home.
On each side of the foyer there were double French doors with white lace sheer curtains on them so you could see light and form through them, but not distinction. One door open and one door closed on each set on each side.
Through the set on the right I could glimpse into a formal Victorian parlor, complete with fireplace and a mantle with a pair of expensive Venetian glass lusters. (My granny hadn’t raised a complete idiot!).
The furniture in this room was cherry wood and grey and burgundy. I could see a Duncan Fife drop leaf table and thought “this is way way too much like Granny’s house!”
Through the left set of doors was a den, with a huge fireplace, a couple of wing back chairs with matching ottomans, a couch, some brocade foot stools, a wooden rocking chair with brocade cushions, some bookshelves filled with old books, a huge floor model TV and some very expensive looking figurines.
An elderly woman was standing in front of the fireplace…hands up over the mantle fussing with the mantle clock, trying to wind it.
“I never could quite get this thing to work right” she said as she closed the face and turned to us.
I was greeted by a woman that was substantially taller than I; she was regal in carriage and motion. She wore her hair braided and up softly in a crown around the top of her head. She was dressed as one would expect a matron of stature. In a long sleeved, cream colored silk blouse replete with the loose tie at her neck, a long tweed skirt, hose and serviceable yet heeled ladies shoes.
But the thing that mostly caught my eye and my ear was her jewelry. She wore a large silver clan pin on her blouse holding the loosely tied blouse down; she wore a very old but obviously expensive gold watch on her left wrist and a set of wedding rings that looked suspiciously to me like a series of glass doorknobs.
On her right wrist was the piece of jewelry that all of the sound emanated from. A very full, very golden, charm bracelet that I’d later come to find out held a token for every single member of her family, hearts for girls and circles for boys – engraved with their first and second names, their date of birth – and a tooth print once each child got old enough to bite!
She turned towards us all and stared at each of her children for a moment looking them each up and down individually. When she finally discovered me standing behind all of her overly tall children she spoke again.
“What have we here?” she said, beckoning me forward. Her adult children parted like the Red Sea leaving me standing alone for her scrutiny.
All I could think of was the fact that I hadn’t washed my face or brushed my teeth or hair in the better part of 24 hours!