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.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Getting Into The Speakeasy

Willard has planned a night at a speakeasy, a clandestine nightclub. In the Prohibition Era, the sale of alcoholic beverages was illegal, so many bars, taverns, and nightclubs had to keep liquor sales a well-known secret. Some clubs were located in unlikely places to avoid detection, and a bouncer at the door screened customers and alerted the patrons of police raids. Inside, storage for liquor was hidden behind secret doors and bars could be disguised with sliding panels. The 21 Club of New York City was one of the most famous speakeasies.

Unfortunately, Willard has forgotten the password required to enter this establishment, but Minerva saves the day - or the night!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Night On The Town

Dolly and Minerva are feeling rather unstrung by a day of house-hunting in New York City. Modern women have such a burden to organize their own lives. Returning to their hotel, they find that Willard has left a message at the desk. He proposes a night on the town to unwind and will pick them up at 8. 

At the appointed hour, Willard arrived. The girls were looking quite lovely in their new dresses. Iffy was dressed for bed and complaining about having to stay alone with an unknown woman, supplied by the hotel. The doorbell rang, and in came a comfortably-built lady with a very familiar face. Dolly, Minerva, and Iffy were struck speechless for a moment. It was their old parlormaid Lizzie.

"Lizzie!", cried Iffy. "It's our Lizzie from home!"  
"Whatever are you doing here?" exclaimed Dolly. 
Lizzie blushed as she always did. "Your mother is worried that you need help, so here I am."
Dolly and Minerva sighed a long sigh of relief.