Home Guru

Growing Older, Along with Our Prized Possessions

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By Bill Primavera

Is anyone else here old enough to remember Dinah Shore, the songstress and television hostess from the 1940s to about ‘80s? She was a lovely lady with an open, genuine wholesomeness that America loved as they sang along with her as she warbled her sponsor’s theme song, “See the U.S.A. in Your Chevrolet!”

I had the opportunity to work with Dinah when I was at the peak of my career in the public relations field, representing international food and lifestyles accounts.  I’ll always remember visiting her home with my client for a dinner attended by such Hollywood icons as Billy Wilder, Gregory Peck and Angie Dickinson, the latter of whom took my breath away as I sat next to her at the table.

Actually, I was invited into Dinah’s kitchen (Yes, I am one who can honestly say, “Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah…Me!”) to help put finishing touches on the pasta course. While my client, a famous nouvelle cuisine advocate, placed the noodles in a petit little swirl on the plate, with the tomato sauce ladled neatly and separately to the side, she protested.

“Mix it all together like people will eat it,” she exclaimed, smearing the noodles together somewhat sloppily with the sauce. Yup, she was the genuine item.

After dinner, when my client and I were looking at some photographs on Dinah’s baby grand piano, we stopped at one where she was quite young, sitting on her sofa, which featured the same upholstery fabric that we witnessed there that night.  “Look,” said my client. “They’ve grown old together!”

There are many items in my own home where the same thing could be said. And to me, that’s great.

Some years ago, I wrote a Home Guru column about how comforting it was to grow older in the same community where we started out. I’ve lived in my community for more years than I’ll admit here, and it is very nice to think about all those people, places and things I’m familiar with and still encounter every day.

Likewise, I view the furnishings my wife and I have assembled as opportunities to reminisce about the circumstances that brought them into our lives.

For instance, I have a Chippendale-style settee that I’ve enjoyed since I furnished my first apartment as a bachelor. Having come to New York City as a transplant from that citadel of our colonial period, Williamsburg, Va., where I had attended the College of William & Mary, I brought the tastes and preferences of the interiors there with me. I had eyed that settee for some time at the old B. Altman’s (Remember that wonderful store?), and when I finally felt I could afford it, I invited a young lady from my office to come and help me choose the fabric for covering it.

That young lady has enjoyed sitting on that very settee every day throughout our marriage, and every time I look at it, I imagine that fateful day that initiated our relationship. It’s been recovered a couple of times since its purchase, but sturdy and staunch it stands (and seats), although I’ve noticed as of late that it doesn’t have the bounce it once did. But, then again, neither do I.

Not only have we furnished in reproduction period pieces, but we’ve also collected old oil paintings, both portraiture and landscapes, to decorate our walls. As I think about it, it’s almost as though the reminiscences of one lifetime are not enough for us, and we have to borrow the experiences of others, gone long before us, to enhance our lives.

Maybe I’m compensating for having come from a family where only the new things were valued and old furniture and decor were viewed as “old stuff” to be replaced.

It’s especially nice to live with our “things” as they age from new to old, more cherished with each year, as we contemplate how they have supported our lifestyles and created our memories.

Bill Primavera is a realtor associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. (www.PrimaveraPR.com). To engage the services of the Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.

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