Creating a New Kitchen in an Old House. Part Three.
A few years ago Travis purchased a matching set of lights from me for his 1931 tudor-esque style home in St. Louis. It so happened that I was soon driving from Kansas to New York, so offered to drop the set off in person.
Because I am, well, a beast, upon arriving I asked Travis if if could get a grand tour of his home. He hesitated, but the beast in me persisted (this is what beasts do, and, you know, the house looked so cool!) and Travis agreed. I sensed that his reluctance was due more to worry (is this guy some crazed ax murderer?) rather than privacy issues.
As things would prove, I am glad of the beast, because the tour was memorable and enlightening.
I have an affection for homes built in the late 1920s and 1930s. They have a particular quality which I cannot define but is instantly recognizable; such homes hint at the moderne. Homes of the era are also built of quality materials and designed to last for the ages. A far cry from homes built today.
While the house was a thrill, what really captured my special attention was a heretofore unknown discovery: Travis had an obsession. And I am a man who knows obsession.
In the garage was the most extraordinary collection filling the space, and more in the abasement, and more in most of the rooms in the house.
You see, Travis is obsessed with vintage appliances and radios and TV sets and fans, you name it. If it plugs into a wall, and is before, say, 1960, Travis either has it or wants it.
I was awestruck.
He lovingly, reverently showed me a huge cabinet, about 4-feet high. 1940s? But what was it? One door opened to reveal a tiny TV screen. Ahhhhh, a very early TV console! The other door opened to reveal a pull-out phonograph player. It did not look like it was ever used, and contained all the operating manuals in mint condition. Indeed, the whole cabinet was mint. In its day such a fixture would have cost a fortune but today is considered of little value…save to a connoisseur like Travis.
I watched Travis as he gently closed the cabinet door. The man was in love. I smiled.
Later, Travis emailed me images of his new baby:
Travis’s refrigerator is actually composed of two appliances. Travis owned the 2-door unit but it was missing the monitor. He also had a 3-door unit with monitor (which would not fit into his kitchen), so he moved its monitor over to the 2-door (which originally would have had an identical monitor).
When all was done, and the newly restored GE in place, Travis wrote me: “I can’t tell you how happy I am to stand by it and listen to it run.”
A man after my own heart.
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