I can’t take any real credit for decorating the Historical Society. I did do some additional touches, but the majority of the work had been done in the weeks before by other volunteers. They did a great job in getting the place ready for the holidays.
The recent gift of a rope bed became the centerpiece of a festive display. Rope beds were what they are called. Instead of boxe springs or a mattress, which is what are modern beds are made of, a rope bed was a bed frame with rope being used to create a web in the frame for someone to lay upon. It is possible that some type of mattress would be put on top of the ropes, but in this case the mannequins were placed on the ropes.
The rope bed was a central piece in ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas display. Two adult mannequins were dressed for “a long winter’s nap,” except the children were up and standing next to their parents’ bed. The baby was asleep in the cradle. A corner of the bed covers were pulled back so visitors could see how the ropes were strung to create a surface. I do wonder how comfortable the bed would be. While in Scotland, I slept in a twin rope bed that did have a mattress on it. As I remember, it wasn’t that comfortable. I didn’t sleep well in the bed.
In one of the front rooms is a display to Virginia O’Hanlon, the little girl who wrote to Francis P. Church, the editor of the New York Sun, one of the prominent newspapers of the city at the end of the nineteenth century. The eight-year-old wanted to know if there was a Santa Claus. Church’s famous editorial defending the existence of Santa Claus is known throughout the world. The display also included a copy of Church’s reply.
Following are some images from the society. I wanted to get these posted before the year ended and the holiday season fades from memory.
Oh, the photo here is of what has become known as the “Evil Clown.” There’s a debate among the volunteers of whether or not this toy is scary-looking. I think that everyone would agree that no one would give such a painted toy to a child of today. At some point in the distant past, this toy must have been beloved by some child. Nonetheless, by today’s standards this clown has scary-looking features. What do you think?
Way back at the beginning of the 20th century, a memorial/monument to Washington Irving was planned for Broadway, at the top of Sunnyside Lane. A local committee started raising funds in 1909-1910. Famous sculptor Daniel Chester French was hired to make a bust of Irving and some images of Rip Van Winkle and King Boabdil (from The Alhambra). The Headless Horseman is Irving’s most famous character, with Rip Van Winkle running second in popularity.
French worked on the monument for the next 15 years. Over those years, the costs of the monument, in French’s hands, kept going up and up. The local committee put on many fundraisers to try and keep up with the escalating price tag. In 1925, French designed this small statue of Rip Van Winkle for fundraising purposes; each sold for $500.
Unfortunately, the statue got no further than the model stage. French created a model to work from and started making preparations to build the statue. However, the money was not raised for the statue and the idea was scrapped. Still, the sculptor had to be paid. In order to recoup some of the money, the statue committee had copies made of the model and sold it locally.
The Charles T. Newberry Estate donated this statue to the Historical Society, where it peers out from a corner in the research room.
Before the month is over, and wanting to have a posting on Leap Year Day, here is something at the Historical Society.
No, I have not changed my mind from my last post. I still think Valentine’s Day is for people with not a romantic bone in their bodies. However, in honor of the day, the Historical Society installed a display of Valentines from the past. Many of them look to be from the late 19th-early 20th century.
For those you who like Valentine’s Day, enjoy. For those of us who don’t, it’s still interesting to look at artifacts from a bygone era.
Since the season does not end until January 7, at least for me, I thought that I’d share the photos of the decorations at the Historical Society. Last year, I helped decorate, but I didn’t have time to help this year. Actually, these past three months I haven’t had the time to volunteer at all, so it was nice to be back.
Unlike last year, there is a big tree in every room on the first floor. This is one idea that I embraced years ago. Although I did not put up a tree this year, I usually put up a tree in every room of my apartment. This includes the kitchen and the bathroom. The idea behind this is that the holiday should be reflected in every room. The trees are not always big. The bathroom tree is no more than six inches high with small ornaments. Actually, the main tree in the living room is only five feet; I have no large tree. I came up with this idea years ago, and I was surprised that the concept behind it had been popular in early America.
The main room
Close-up of the main room tree
Tree in the left room
Small tree in the left room
Tree in the Captors’ Room
Though trees would not become popular until after Queen Victoria’s Prince Albert brought them from his native Germany to Britain, and the tradition made its way across the Atlantic, in Washington Irving’s day it was believed that the holiday season should be represented in every room. The people would bring pine tree branches, pine cones, holly and mistletoe in from outside to decorate their mantles, shelves, dressers, wherever. The house would also have a nice scent of pine.
Washington Irving’s desk at the Historical Society
Unfortunately, I was not able to attend any of the holiday events at Sunnyside, Washington Irving’s home. The one year I went, they had the branches of pine and holly throughout the rooms of the house, as well as a wonderful bonfire in the yard. They had hot apple cider to keep the chill of the night at bay. (Too bad the temperature was close to 60 degrees. I fondly remember that trip to Sunnyside.
Happy new year to all!
Private Nelson Owens served in Company H, the 1st Regiment of the Missouri Volunteers during the United States Civil War. He died in the hospital on February 4, 1864.
J.T. Paine, the surgeon in charge, made a request to Charles Rockwell, the Captain of Volunteers, on February 5 for a coffin for the 4 pm funeral. I hope that Private Owens got his coffin and had a dignified burial.
I have finished unpacking the Rockwell papers at the Historical Society and am in the process of organizing the collection by topics and then chronologically. This is a slow process. When I unpacked the files, I put them into files with months and dates, but I am finding errors. So, I have to go through each file, item by item, to ensure that it is in the correct order, and then write up the finding aid.
The Historical Society is holding a fundraiser. Tickets are $50 and are limited to 200. The winner takes half the pot, which is $5000.
You need not be present to win, or to even buy a ticket. The miracle of technology allows you to buy your tickets online. The drawing will be held on June 7, during the Tarrytown Street Fair.
Buy a ticket, or increase your chances and buy more!