A Quaker Couch

I was raised a Quaker, which meant Sundays were long, what with Meeting at 11 a.m. and a pot luck lunch following on from that. If it were monthly Meeting, when they met after lunch to do the financial thing, we would often be at church until 3 or 4 in the afternoon.

My church met in an old Victorian home on the West side of Worcester, MA. I usually would go to Sunday school rather than Meeting, but often there was no one there to teach us (apparently, Quakers can be a bit lax about arranging things like that. Either that or our Sunday school teacher was a flake.) so we’d be left to our own devices. Five or six kids allowed to roam a massive Victorian – what could possibly go wrong?

Actually, nothing ever did. Sometimes we’d help Stella in the kitchen, getting the table ready for lunch and doing minor chores for her. Sometimes we’d run down to the carriage house and play there. And then one day, we discovered the library on the second floor.

Oh how I loved that library. It wasn’t very big, but it had glass-fronted bookcases that were stuffed full of old books. On the days when I was the only kid there, I’d happily dash up there, take out a book and curl up on the couch in the room.

The couch was an old Victorian monstrosity, carved walnut and gold brocade and horsehair stuffing. It sat under the window, where the sun streamed in, making it a perfect reading spot. It was a bit poky, being somewhat sprung, but there was a green velvety throw that was always slung over the back and that could be used to alleviate some of the pokiness of the seat. When it was cold, I’d wrap the throw around me and pretend to be Beth, from Little Women, languishing on her sickbed.

Sometimes I’d bring my doll and kneel on the faded Turkish carpet in front of the couch, acting out little domestic dramas by myself. Other times, I’d lie on it, watching the sun coming thru the leaves of the trees outside. On rainy days, I’d sometimes nap there. But mostly, I read. Alice In Wonderland, The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Rebecca’s War, Island of the Blue Dolphins. I’d always come back to Little Women, though. I must have read that book ten or fifteen times on that couch alone.

I vividly remember sitting on that couch with Heleneke, listening to the little transistor radio I’d snuck in. She perched on the wooden arm of the couch and I knelt, radio in hand, trying to pick up the signal with the wonky antenna. We were trying to listen to K.C. Kasem’s American Top 40.  We were thrilled when “Life’s Been Good” by Joe Walsh came on. We both bounced with excitement, popping a few more springs in the process.

I often wonder what happened to that couch. I know what happened to that copy of Little Women – it’s in my bookcase right now.

This was done as a writing exercise, originally posted on Adventures in Babywearing. For more couch posts, go check her out.



4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Adventures In Babywearing
    Mar 13, 2010 @ 09:37:27

    I felt like I was there. This reminds me of when I’d sit for hours in my grandparents’ “library” (spare room with a huge bookshelf.)



  2. talesofmy30s
    Mar 13, 2010 @ 09:40:57

    so glad to see you doing a writing exercise – loved your memories.


  3. Sharon
    Mar 13, 2010 @ 20:18:58

    We used to go visit my great-aunt and uncle every weekend. Nothing to do in their neighborhood, no kids, Lawrence Welk on the TV… until I discovered that in their basement, there was a bookcase with every issue of Reader’s Digest since it started in 1922. Thereafter, it was hello to the greats and straight to the cellar for my brother and me.


  4. Rich Monsoon
    Mar 14, 2010 @ 00:59:18

    The things I don’t know about you. You fascinate me sometimes. We lived in an old farmhouse that had those glass front bookcases in our front entry way, but were not supposed to touch them (They belonged to the guy who owned the house). Strangely enough, like Sharon (above) I found a stash of old readers digests from the 60’s. They were a treasure trove to me. I got to read about someones experiences in the Amazon. I went so many places in books, and I don’t read as often as I used to. I drove my mother nuts, as I would read anything I could get my hands on including a copy of “The Happy Hooker” By Xaviera Hollander. I read “Flowers In The Attic” so many times.


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