Do you remember the staircase walls at Hogwarts, in the Harry Potter films? I do not mean the concept that the portrait characters moved in and out of the frames, but the idea that the walls were covered in picture frames — THAT was my Gramma’s house!
The faded wallpaper was hidden by so many different sizes and types of wooden frames — gilded, pressed or lacquered. Some had beveled (convex) glass, which created the impression that the eyes of the people behind the glass were following your every move!
There was only one problem with Gramma’s house: it wasn’t meant for young visitors. She had all kinds of cool, old and odd stuff on display — but, nothing we were allowed to touch. (Mum’s rules.).
My brother announced proudly, “We’re going to the Family Museum!” on the car ride there one Sunday afternoon. (That comment didn’t go over very well at all — I still think Mum overheard the conversation between us.).
And I always wondered: Why did we call it her living room, when almost all her pictures were of dead people?
I remember her telling me, during one of our walks to the cemeteries that summer, that all of those blank-looking faces were related to us. She laughed, as I must have looked horrified comprehending her confession.
Unfortunately, that didn’t make it any less unnerving for a particular nine-year-old with a vividly, overactive imagination, left alone at night in that room and expected to sleep — of all things — with those creepy eyes watching!
By June 1975, I was 12 when told that she had died. What little I remember after the funeral was not pleasant: My father’s only sister, and the youngest child of the marriage, inherited everything. When he asked about one particular item, he was told “No,” and the incident was dropped and forbidden to be repeated.
“Aunt E” passed away in July 2004. She was divorced and without any children. I learned about her passing in 2010 while reviewing microfilmed newspapers. [NOTE: My father and all his brothers (except Frank, the eldest) are all gone too.].
And even now, I still wonder with a heavy heart, whatever happened to all those photographs that hung upon her walls and the museum pieces scattered about her living room?