Why 'My Mink Betty'?

Why 'My Mink Betty'?
I'm not your common, everyday twenty-something year old and when I graduated from High School I got an equally uncommon gift. My parents found for me a beautiful 1940's mink stole at a garage sale. It had belonged to the woman's Great Aunt Betty who had married late in life to a man with money and had only allowed him to buy her this one luxury. The unusually styled stole has the name, Betty L. Jones, embroidered in the satin lining so that's what I call her. They never had children of their own and the mink was passed to Aunt Betty's niece and on to her daughter. Until it got to me, no one since Aunt Betty had worn it. Now Betty the mink and I go to the theater together on special occasions and I hope that someday I can take her to the Symphony or the Ballet. Although Betty hadn't been worn or loved for many years she was waiting for someone to love her again as are most other things I look for when thrifting.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

That family with two houses now has an Apricot Kitchen!

My maternal grandmother was the daughter of a navy chaplain stationed in Hawaii in the late 1940's. She was swept off her feet by a young naval officer who was devoted to her. As he advanced in his career they moved frequently and sometimes lived in less-than-stellar accommodations. By 1965, when my mother was in fifth grade, they had nine children. When they moved to San Diego, CA they couldn't afford a big enough house on the private market and the largest one available in military housing was a three bedroom half of a duplex. So my grandfather marched off to the housing office and "convinced" them to give him both halves of the duplex. My grandfather became infamous throughout the neighborhood for getting himself two houses.

Now, in those days, decor in military housing was in the "barracks style". The exteriors of buildings came in three stucco colors: dirty pink, seasick green, and never-to-again-be white and you could have your interiors painted any color you wanted, as long as it was white.

When my grandmother's birthday rolled around, my grandfather asked what she wanted and I am told the conversation went like this:

Grandpa: If you could have anything you wanted for your birthday, what would it be?
Grandma: I'd want the kitchen painted, but that's not allowed.
Grandpa: Details. What color?
Grandma: But that's not allowed.
Grandpa: Details.

Soon afterward, a ripple went through the neighborhood about "That family with two houses now has an Apricot Kitchen!" Complete strangers would knock on the back door and conspiratorially whisper "Do you have an Apricot Kitchen?...Can I see it?"

The most ironic part about this all is that my grandmother had divided the house and she, my grandfather, the toddlers, and the oldest daughter (the presentable family members) lived in one half. Their side was decorated tastefully and shown to company. The other side was where the kids could be kids and family time was spent. Unfortunately the Apricot kitchen was in the half with the toys, kids, and old couch and not the area that company ordinarily would have been shown to first.

Nevertheless they always let people in to see the Apricot Kitchen.

The secret Apricot Kitchen was never formally photographed but I think you can see a stripe of the paint along the door frame.

PS: This was my mother's tenth birthday. Don't you just love her haircut?!

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