Tuesday, April 22, 2008


A very photo heavy post
And just kind of heavy, too.
Many of these get bigger if you click them.

I made my last trip down to Quincy Illinois yesterday, to retrieve stuff from my grandmother's house.

My grandmother was not an easy woman to love.

This house was built for my great grandfather, who was a prominent merchant in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Quincy. It was a thriving Mississippi River city then. By the time I came to know Quincy, it was a small city with a dying downtown and strangely disproportionate number of old people living on trust funds. But I'm getting ahead of myself. My grandmother was born in this house and she died in it, too. In the intervening 96 years, she lived in some glamorous and interesting places, partied with great exuberance, and made life miserable for the people closest to her. She never stayed away from Quincy for long.

These stairs were the most amazing thing to me when I was a child. They're still pretty spectacular.

Some rusting metal lawn chairs in the back yard.

So much of the family drama played out in this room. It was built on during my great-grandfather's declining years, when he could no longer handle stairs. He died in it. For many years it was the preferred socializing space, less formal than the living room. My grandfather died in it in 1999, at age 96. My grandmother died in it at age 96, in 2007. A tradition that will not continue. The house will sell as soon as my parents finish emptying it.

The attic.

The river and the bridge to Missouri.

And while I was away, picking out some of her paintings and refusing many offers of vintage table linens, I found that The Garter Belt site has vanished. This was not unexpected. Just a strange juxtaposition on the day when I say farewell to things and places that are receding into the past.

Going forward, look for more of my patterns to appear here on the blog. And I guess I'd better get my butt in gear on that website, too.


sixbadboys said...

Sorry for your loss. My grandmother was a very important part of my childhood, but I fell away as I got older. I found out some quite unsavory things also leading to me not speaking to her most of the last 20 years of her life. She was 96, I think when she died. I did not go to the family farm then, they demolished the house and the outbuildings. I couldn't go back for the end. That was several years ago. My sisters live on the land now. It's good you have pictures of the house.

Knitaly said...

Besides all your memories of the past, that will always belong to you, I hope this wonderful house will be soon enlived again with life and people.

Now I have to "get my butt in gear too" on my work!!!!

Lynn said...

Families. How we all cope, I'll never understand.

And I'm sorry about the loss of The Garter Belt, too. I have a vision of Zib drowning in.. something, I don't know what, and I'm sorry that we've all lost her. And maybe she's lost herself, too, I don't know.

gale (she shoots sheep shots) said...

Thanks for sharing this post & the trip to Quincy. That doll in the box is creepy (in a GOOD way).

Bezzie said...

Family issues aside, it's a gorgeous house.

Karen said...

I'm sorry for your loss.

The house is gorgeous. That staircase is absolutely breathtaking.

Eden Rivers said...


Some truly amazing photos, and a fitting way to immortalize your memories of your grandmother and a home deeply woven in memory. Those closing moments are always difficult, and often tied up in physical places or objects. When my grandmother died, the one thing my aunt fought my uncle for was the jigger my grandmother had used to mix her drinks. You had to know my grandmother for this to make sense, but to them, they each needed that bit of memory to clarify their childhoods. Life can be strange, people stranger.

Emily said...

I love those river towns and their beautiful houses. My mother was born in a house much like that just up the river in Keokuk IA, though the family sold it during the second World War. So I never got a chance to slide down the bannister... which I certainly hope you did on this bannister many many times.
All along that stretch of the Mississippi there are beautiful old homes that seem like they might not have changed since Mark Twain was writing about the area.

Cindy G said...

Those photos are just wonderful. Take care of yourself.

Mary, Mary... said...

Sometimes, I think those old houses demand difficult residents. There are a couple of Victorians in the family that you couldn't pay me to live in. My condolences on The Garter Belt--what happened to everybody?

YarnThrower said...

WOW -- What an amazing house! Your pictures are great, and will hopefully be a nice remembrance of the grandeur of the house and family times, good and bad.

Sorry also for the loss of The Garter Belt. I know you poured a lot of your energy into it, and it was a really nice site! Glad to hear that your existing patterns will live on, and I know your talents will take you even farther!

MollyBeees said...

What an amazing post! I love love love the majesty of old houses. What a beauty that one is. They don't make 'em like that any more. Excellent photography there, Mrs. SABLE!

Kathy Kathy Kathy said...

Hi Elizabeth,
Sorry I haven't been around. That looks like a big house and a lot of work. I appreciate that it's cool, but I guess it has to go. My great grandma was known to be hard to love, except by me. I found it easy.

Marji said...

if you ever decide to make a career as a photographer I think you'd make a go of it.
So sorry about the losses and closures.
That is a spectacular old house though, from someone who has a real weakness for old houses.