Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Iffy Starts School

When I was a girl, my mother had a close friend who had many unusual things in her home. Her father was an estate lawyer, and occasionally, when he settled estates after clients' deaths, he was made welcome to take home things no one wanted. His daughter was the recipient of many of these things. One that we had fun with was a receipt book from Miss Fine's School in nearby Princeton, NJ. The legendary Miss May Fine started a college preparatory school for girls in1899, at a time where very few girls (or very few people at all) went to university. In the 1960s, Miss Fine's School merged with the Princeton Country Day School (for boys) to become the co-ed Princeton Day School

Doris and Mabel went to Miss Phyne's School and recommend enthusiastically it to the Ackermann sisters. Iffy is impressed with the girls' sports program, and especially admires one girl who wears a feather tucked into a headband. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Eve with Dolly and Minerva

Do we "ring" in the New Year or "bring" in the New Year? Both are correct, as this article explains. Dolly and Minerva have organized a small party at their new house, mainly to avoid another raucous baccanale at a night club. 

Doris and Mabel Arrow are there, with Willard and a few of his friends from work. Lizzie, their maid from the Ackermann home, keeps champagne on ice and records on the gramophone, with the assistance of Iffy, who knows all the latest tunes. Willard seems in a bit of a funk as he watches Minerva work her charms on Harold. She's actually convinced that Harold would be a perfect match for Dolly, and regales him with anecdotes about Dolly's adventures in a wide variety of publications. Harold seems puzzled when told that they have met Jane Austen.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Moving Into The New House

Dolly and Minerva waited until after Christmas Day to move into their new home, a lovely brownstone townhouse. Mrs. Pierrepont had departed for Georgia by train before Christmas and, as she promised, had left the place fully furnished. The furnishings and decorations, however, are not to the Ackermann girls' taste. Nor are the carpets, curtains, wallcoverings, or anything else in the house. 

"Where is the elegance of Mr. Ackermann's Respository?" Dolly mused. "Something awful must have happened between then and now."

Minerva raised a determined chin. "It will be a great deal of work, Dolly, but we will transform this house!"

Iffy is thrilled to see that Mrs. P. has left her dog, Ethel, behind. A neighbor dropped by to check on Ethel's food bowl and gave Iffy instructions on her care. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Celebrating Christmas at Willard's

Willard has invited the Ackermann girls to his apartment for Christmas dinner. Doris and Mabel are there with their father, and Willard's employer, Mr. Arrow. A workmate of Willard's named Sidney joins them, being one of those bachelors who has nowhere to go on Christmas Day. He seems a pleasant sort of man who arrives with a jolly "Ho, ho, ho!" and parks himself on the sofa with a glass of punch. 

Gifts are exchanged. Willard receives an interesting novel from the Arrows and an unusual lamp from Minerva. Its base is constructed from the horns of some African animal. I think I need to build a hunting lodge, thinks Willard. He has given Minerva a glittery brooch, which delights the sisters. Iffy is thrilled with her new Flexible Flyer sled! This thing needs to be tried out immediately and she badgers Mr. Arrow to take her to Central Park. Mr. Arrow, a keen sledder himself, promises her a full afternoon in the park tomorrow.

As the day ends, Dolly, Minerva, and Iffy spend a little time reminiscing about Christmases of old, and missing their loved ones in Ackermann's Repository.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

An Almost Perfect House

Dolly, Minerva, Mabel, and Iffy tour Mrs. Pierrepont's brownstone house and are unanimously impressed. Despite the general layout of brownstones, four narrow floors and a basement, the rooms are spacious and well-lit by large windows. However, the decor is not what the girls are used to. The walls are covered with dark, ornately-patterned wallpaper in vicious colors. The furniture, which Mrs. P. is leaving with the house, is dark and heavy. Dolly shudders. "I feel like I'm in a frightening novel, like The Mysteries of Udolpho," she whispers to Minerva. "They call this Victorian Gothic, and it's terribly "out"," whispers Mabel. 

Mrs. P. points out every piece of massive furniture and heavily-framed painting with pride. "My late husband had all his favorite paintings copied. He was particularly fond of this one," she said, pointing out The Raft of the Medusa. "It was hung in the dining room, in order to make us grateful for any food we got." Dolly shuddered again.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Viewing a Likely House

After a couple of days to recover from their night out with Willard, Dolly and Minerva meet Mabel for another attempt at finding a house. They follow up a lead to an attractive brownstone in Brooklyn. The neighborhood is pleasant, with tree-lined streets, and the house fronts, with wrought-iron railings and steep front steps, are quite attractive. The owner, Mrs. Pierrepont, ancient lady dressed in an antique gown, greeted them from the stoop. After introductions, Mrs. P. explains that she is selling her New York home and will move permanently to her cottage on Jekyll Island in Georgia. 

Before they go into the house, Iffy spies the most cunning little dog on the sidewalk. It is dressed in a spiffy blue sailor suit, complete with a jaunty cap. No one dresses dogs that well besides Aunt Minerva, thinks Iffy. This is a good neighborhood.

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Less Than Enjoyable Evening

Once inside the speakeasy, Dolly and Minerva find a wild crowd, determined to have a good time. Some are dancing to a jumping jazz band called Clarence Williams' Blue Five. Others are trying to keep up conversation by shouting over the music. Waiters circulate constantly with trays of champagne and cocktails. A number of magazine reporters have gotten wind of the newcomers to the social scene and begin snapping photos of the girls. Willard says "This is what they call "The Roaring Twenties, girls!". All in all, it's not particularly fun for the Ackermann sisters. One more thing on the list of What To Avoid.