If milestones of life were jewels hung from the walls of this roughly 12-foot-by-12-foot space, this room’s opulence would rival Versailles.
After almost 45 years of living away from this place, I sit in the center of the front room in my childhood 1959 home, at a large solid oak desk that once belonged to my father. My days here now are filled with taking care of administrative details related to care of my 97-year-old mother and trying desperately to maintain a profession virtually through the miracle of modern technology.
Today, it is called the “office,” but throughout my lifetime, it had several names and even more functions.
In the “music room,” I pounded the keys of my piano during adolescence, relieving the social stresses of life at that time and paving the way for a first career in music education.
The fancy Duncan Phyfe sofa was the spot that I “received” my first male visitors, ever mindful of my father passing by the door, heavily clearing his throat if he detected extended periods of silence.
The addition of the large mid-century-modern console stereo ushered in a long extended period of vinyl-spinning frenzy, with my two older sisters and me vying for coveted playing time of our preferred musical artists. Although the carpet has been replaced, I’m sure that my girlfriend and I wore a spot bare by our then-current dancing practice and later lounging on the floor listening to Jimmy Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced?” (You didn’t dance to Jimmy!)
Holidays and special events didn’t escape this room. High school graduation and wedding gifts were proudly displayed on a large draped table so visitors could admire the good taste of their neighbors in a small, rural community. At Christmas, the large shimmering state-of-the-art silver aluminum tree with the rotating color wheel at its base was proudly displayed in the front “picture” window. Before proms or pageants, my sisters and I were photographed in front of the fancy gold filigreed wall mirror or the corniced champagne-peach colored brocade drapery that still hangs — 56 years later.
Many years ago when I left to experience the world beyond this small rural community, the piano and stereo were removed and a row of bookshelves were placed along one wall. The lively sounds of music no longer fill this room, but an archival monument to our family’s life has filled the void. Photographs of extended family generations, books of all genres and articles and pictures related to our family’s lives and the history of small town have found their way to the crowded shelves. The framed flag that draped my father’s coffin has taken its place adjacent to the replicas lovingly handmade by him of his childhood Acadian home and the first parish church.
It is quite likely that this room will, in the very near future, undergo a transformation and purpose dictated by a second set of owners. But, it will always be our “living” room.
Jean Fangue Kidd lives in Berwick.
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