Thursday’s Doors~ September 10, 2015


The door today is on a house located on West William Street close to Curtis Street which runs perpendicular to the house. It almost seems like Curtis would run straight into the surrounding wooded area. The house disguised by the woods “hides” the possible past home of a famous Delaware, Ohio family.

The house is currently painted gray, has black details and a Victorian front door. The porch which leads up to the door is decorated with white painted lattice work which I generally say may be found on “gingerbread houses.”

The white door may not be the original door. It has four small windows at the top of this rather tall door. It has three sets of panels with wooden strips framing them, all painted white.

Again, picture a gray house, black outlines and white details. A door which seems looming in size, with more details seen close up than far away.

I wonder if the famous family had a taller male as head of household?

Do Victorian homes tend to have taller doors?

I would need a step stool to decorate around this door with strings of leaves on a vine, which I had done on my last home. I like the idea of getting this house ready for Halloween.
In September, I would hang a grape vine wreath on this door. It would have golden silk sunflowers with a pretty ribbon of fall colors coming to a bow at the bottom.

The door recently seen, has no decoration on it. The large picture window, opening over the porch, has many panes outlined with black painted wood strips. The woodwork has some cracks in the paint once you climb the five steps onto the porch.
The curtains were a deep blue which held anything behind them “hostage” in the hidden recesses.

A closer look shows a small placard with a wooden frame. It reveals the past homeowners. It is not on a historical registry. It was a stop along the road of many stops chosen by a film director who had one singular famous wife and child.

The outstanding porch chandelier which on a snowy night was lit,  had caught my eyes.

It seemed to beckon visitors. It may have meant the house was ready for company. I imagined a long lost family member, errant but expected to return.

It is the crystal chandelier which is the only sign this is a special house. It distinguished the house and set it apart. The door doesn’t have a door knob, it has one of those handles with a curlicue at the base. It looks like it is painted black but this makes me wonder.

Would stripping the black paint off reveal brass?

I was driving past this house often, back in 1991 and 1992. My good friend and fellow single mother, Lori, had 3 children close to the same ages as mine. She lived about ten houses from this lovely, old house.

The house once the light was left on, shone through the bare wooded area surrounding this home set back from a busy road.

Had the light not been shining brightly with the way crystal reflects, especially on snow and icicles hanging from the porch roof . . .

Had one of my children asked me a question, taking my mind off looking at the scenery while driving a slow paced 30 miles per hour down this snow covered familiar road . . .

I may have missed seeing this home. I may have not realized it’s “lineage.” So many times houses are missed due to their location.

The porch has a pair of white worn rocking chairs. They have left grooves on the worn gray painted wooden planks on the porch floor.

* 311 North Washington Street, Delaware, Ohio 43015
has the privelege of being a house on a hill which was designated the inspiration for “Meet Me at St. Louis,” a film Vincente Minnelli directed in 1944.


When I suggested to my friend, Lori, that we walk down the sidewalk and head west from her house to Trick or Treat, she thought this was a great idea. We usually piled into her van and went to one of the nearby neighborhoods. Houses close by, easier to go up and down short driveways had been our plan a few years in a row. She had moved from a smaller house in one such neighborhood and on this particular long time past Halloween, now lived in an older, bigger place.

We got to the Vincent Minneli house around dark, it had taken us 45 minutes to cover 9 houses. These older homes have gracious hosts with kind offers to sit on edges of porches and eat marshmallow rice krispie squares, caramel apples and frosted cookies. Apple cider, Kool Aid and water pitchers poured into paper cups, to wash down the sugary treats.

When we got to the beautiful Minnelli house, we felt like the driveway was a mile long. I had Felicia up on my shoulders, she had her younger Jacob upon her hip.

The house had the elegant chandelier shining brightly as our feet crunched through the fallen leaves.

We were very excited to read the framed listing of residents:

Mr. and Mrs. Vincente Minnelli

Retired from film making,

Lived within these walls.

Whose first wife was,

Judy Garland,

Whose daughter was

Liza Minneli,

and half-sister

Christiane Minnelli.

I remember reading this aloud to our children while we waited for the people to arrive and answer the door.

There were only two children listed in family members names in Vincente Minneli’s biography, Liza and Christiane.

My son (age 11) said rather amusingly,

“As long as the people don’t have scary flying monkeys we will like this, Mom.”

The elderly couple must have been between 85 and 90. One was a tall, white haired gentleman who leaned on his cane and the other was a stooped, gray haired woman in a dress and apron.
We were not sure how many people had traipsed up this driveway but we were warmly received.

You may be shocked but we were escorted into a kitchen that had a fireplace blazing, treats in brown paper lunch bags with an orange gingham ribbon tying each one.

We will never forget this unusual feature in the kitchen: a dumbwaiter! It worked, too.

Last, but not least, the residents told us they were not relatives of any Minelli family members.

~Written by Robin Oldrieve Cochran


This is a part of Norm Frampton’s Thursday’s Doors and you may find his post where links to other blogs with Door posts are displayed through photographs, descriptions and history frequently given at:


This next part was my previously published post:

It was a Character Study of a homeless woman. If you have read it before feel free to skip it.

I decided to have a connection built in this practice in character development with someone famous. . .

When I started to write about characters, I chose to

begin with two homeless men. I mentioned that there

are a few different people who I have seen in

Delaware, through inclement weather and over a year.

The men I gave names to, helping me to become ‘real’

and giving them character traits.

I used my imagination as a ‘springboard’ to create

some depth and authenticity.

After all, when we write, unless we are sticking to the

total truth of our own lives, we need to learn how to

develop characters. I will not be writing a memoir

someday, although many of you are or may.

I think I am destined for writing fiction, using partly

truths based on people I have met, while adding

details to create interest and variety.

These ‘character studies’ have been my way of

practicing and honing my writing skills.

Something important that is easy to accidentally do,

when we start to write, is to make the people in our

books into ‘caricatures.’ One’s aim should be to create

people who are able to ‘walk off the pages of your

book.’ After reading, over the years, a few books on

writing (another post’s focused on the ‘experts’ I have

studied) I did find out when it is considered

acceptable to incorporate some stereotypes.

These times can be when you are going for a broad

comedy, a science fiction or comic book type of style.

When you are creating sy-fy, in most situations you

wish the story to become believable and transport to

the foreign land of the future. It could be a stylistic,

polished picture that you may paint, like a top hat,

black tie book.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book, “The Great Gatsby,” comes

to mind where the characters are painted with rather

broad strokes… The character of Daisy’s husband is

abusive but she doesn’t seem to mind. She is

controlled by him, much to her friend, Gatsby’s

dismay. He may not have the appropriate lineage

to fit into the Jazz age, outlandishly extravagant upper

class picture that F.S.F. imparts. But Gatsby is the

most ‘real’ man, in my opinion, other than the narrator,

Nick Carraway.

I feel for both men’s tough situations. Gatsby tried so

hard to fit into society, out of love for Daisy. His

lifestyle, on the surface appears to be wealthy by his

buying a mansion and throwing lavish parties.

My character of “Billie” is a woman who has been

around Delaware,Ohio for over a year. She has been

seen by my youngest daughter and me, on a park

bench in Mingo Park, along the walking trail

between William Street and Winter Street and on the

sidewalk by a plaza on Sandusky Street.

I have noticed this woman’s wavy, sometimes

tangled strawberry blonde hair. It is not a brightly

colored shiny head of hair, but mostly a faded,

tarnished one.

She has a big backpack, which she may store

somewhere in the summertime, hiding it so she

doesn’t have to carry it constantly. It looks heavy.

Since we have seen her, wearing shorts, a tank top

and a sweatshirt wrapped around her waist. There

was no physical evidence, on that occasion, to appear


Only once in the half dozen times where I have noted

her appearance, did I see her hair, woven into a loose

braid with a red rubber band at the end of it.

“Billie” makes me think of Pippi Longstocking, a

creation of the author, Astrid Lindgren. I imagine her

to have had a special life, once upon a time, like the

Swedish character.

The books about 9 year old, Pippi, were published

between 1945 and 1948. The chapter books are funny,

unusual and I would hesitate to ever try to imitate the

zaniness of the children’s story lines of those amazing

chapter books.

I can imagine “Billie” as a rebellious and interesting

person, who may have been a “hippie” in the seventies.

I tried to visualize her as an affluent woman, who may

have lost her path in life. I don’t ‘see’ that in her,

if my views on her are at all possibly going to be

realistic, I have to think she made some choices that

took her away from a traditional working life. I have

to hope she doesn’t have children, although her losing

them to foster care, then a financial struggle could

be part of her past.

“Billie” was wearing dirty and raggedy jeans, a khaki

Army jacket, and wore on her back, the brown rolled

sleeping bag peeking out of her knapsack. The last

time I saw her, she was standing out in the rain. She

had one hand in her pocket and the other raised to

push her loose locks back into the hooded gray

sweatshirt that was under her jacket.

The layered look was a necessity because the nights

were ranging in the low 30’s.

Although this Army jacket may seem to give a glimpse

of her Life’s choices and personal history which may

include she may have been enrolled at one time, we

can not be sure of this. The local Salvation Army and

Goodwill stores often have Army jackets, among their

donated coats.

I would like to envision a happier past for “Billie,” one

out in the country. Maybe she was a Girl Scout, a 4-H

member or her family went camping. This would have

taught her the skills to be able to survive all four

seasons here in Delaware.

I could visualize her skipping stones along the creek,

fishing with her father and maybe, if he were an

outdoorsman, going along while he pulled or checked

animal traps.

I wonder if “Billie” has an Army knife?

I wonder if she eats at the three different churches

that serve homeless or ‘down on their luck’ families?

Then, on the last week which is not covered by these

meals, does she go to Andrews House?

Has she ever slept there in one of the bunk beds?

That is the only ‘loft’ for homeless people we have,

usually with a long waiting list.

When I saw her last summer, “Billie” seemed to have a

wistful look in her eyes. She was sitting on a park

bench, watching a group of ducks on the tributary of

the Olentangy River.

She doesn’t have a hardened look, at least through my

eyes. I see her as not dissatisfied with her plight in


Acceptance and courage resonate from her freckled

face to the way she holds herself. That jaunty hand in

the pocket, the once, braided hair. Most of the time,

the tangled mess of hair seems to shout,

“I don’t give a hoot what people think!”

Does she take a knife or scissors to the hair so that

she has less of it in the summer?

Did she ever stop and talk to “Joe,” last summer, the

younger man with his dog? (Who frequented the

library and I had hoped had made it South or out

West.) His tan face and sun-bleached blonde hair, had

given me a ‘surfer’ sort of impression…

I don’t see her liking that ‘cowboy’ or Irish looking

“Brian,” who was straddling the big dumpster. He

seems to be too odd to trust, maybe even a little scary

to the short, 5′ 3″ or so, woman.

I may seem a dreamer, maybe a woman with her ‘rose

colored glasses’ firmly in place, but I think that “Billie”

is not unhappy in this location.

Due to a bit of whimsy attached to that unmanageable

blondish red hair, I guess “Billie” caught my attention.

Once upon a time, Liza Minnelli with her mother, Judy

Garland and grandfather, Vincente Minnelli may have

visited Delaware, Ohio.

After all, Vincente’s paternal grandparents lived in

Delaware, Ohio.

Vincenzo Minnelli, had been a traveling piano

salesman, from Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. He was

working for the Knabe Piano Company, when

Vincenzo met Nina Pinket, his future wife in Delaware,


Although there is no proof in the biographical

information that I found, Vincente’s father, may have

taught music at Ohio Wesleyan University.

I would like to wonder, ponder and imagine that “Billie”

could have some famous roots. It would be interesting

if she had turned up her nose at those in her famous

cousins’ family.

What could the possibilities be for “Billie” were she

sought out by distant cousins, siblings or others,

finding her in this town, not far from where she was

meant to be?

If so, she isn’t in Kansas anymore…


55 responses »

  1. What an interesting character study, Robin. And I’m interested in you saying you’re destined for fiction. I was thinking the other day that there was a reason I don’t like to write fiction as much as nonfiction, and that maybe it was that I don’t have a great memory for other stories. Rather, I remember them way inside, but not on the surface where I know I remember them. So I would be afraid of writing stories that I’d read somewhere else (or maybe seen in a movie)! haha, isn’t that silly?

    • No, I think that is a very valid point, Luanne! We all have vague memories of things that we have heard, seen and read. We would have to be careful not to incorporate concepts, or big ideas, taken from someone else. I remember being in high school, finding a short story in our World Lit textbook. I really felt I had read something like it before. These days, it would have been ‘easy’ to check out where by just typing the passage I felt that was copied into the computer and push ‘search.’ But, at that time, I ran home, dug through all my parents’ Reader’s Digest condensed books, looking for this one thought, a paragraph or two that was certainly plagiarized. I took a magazine in with the story that held the thoughts in the World Lit Book. Turns out a new writer, who was first being published in Good Housekeeping, had taken a central thought of an older story. My teacher encouraged me to write the magazine, which I still have in my high school photo album their response letter. It thanked me for being a ‘vigilant’ reader. No money or compensation, just an inner satisfaction. I can see your reason for not wanting to write fiction! Smiles, Robin

      • Wow, you were determined!!! That is amazing to think that as a teen you could do something like that, Robin! I so irritated when I hear about famous historians plagiarizing parts of their books and saying, oh, I didn’t realize my notes crept into the book.

      • I was happy to find the original source in the anthology snd then let the magazine know of the paragraphs from a (at the time) recent writer. My teacher, Mr. Peter Heekin, when he retired about 5 years ago was pleased my youngest brother and I were at his retirement party. How could I have not wanted to go snd give thanks since he was always putting incentives out in class for us to grab and pushing me along in the direction of writing, reading and creating? ! 🙂 Thanks, Luanne for focusing on this aspect.

  2. Your post is the third or fourth post I’ve read recently that mentions “The Great Gatsby.” It’s definitely time for me to revisit this novel. I think I read it in high school…yikes!
    Like you, I love to take parts of a real person and add different traits and create a new person. That’s the great thing about fiction writing…you can do whatever you want! Fun stuff!

    • I am so glad that you feel compelled to pick up a classic! I just used it since the person I see that is homeless, makes me wish her to have an ‘exotic’ or interesting past! I am so glad you felt this was a fun read, Jill! Thank you!

  3. Robin, I like all the “I wonder’s” and questions you ask about “Billie”. I guess answering them is how you create a “real’ character.
    This was a great post…I particularly enjoyed how you weaved into it The Great Gatsby, Pippi Longstockings and Liza Minnelli and Judy Garland and how you wondered if “Billie” had famous roots…That’s really interesting. 🙂

    • Thanks, Carol! I appreciate your feedback. I had several of those characters in my mind, when I spotted her over a year ago, in that shorts and tank top. I soon realized she slept on those benches along our walking paths. I think that those authors have created Pippi and Gatsby in rather ‘broad’ strokes, where I would like to try to fine tune and be more detailed when I get to writing my ‘novel.’ Smiles, Robin

  4. i really liked this post robin. and your empathy and compassion for other people really shines through. what a creative and wondering mind you have )

    • Thanks, Beth! I appreciate the way you make me sound so nice! I feel I am curious and wonder a lot about people. It is a fun ‘game’ watching people. I tend to be a bit nosy, but will take the compliments! We share that ability to draw out people’s stories, like you did that hairdresser’s dreams and others you focus on, from time to time, in your posts. Hugs, Robin

    • I wish you had posted this on a blog with food emphasized, it would have made more sense… Thanks for this comment and the good suggests for those who have to follow a Diabetic diet. Take care!

  5. I wasn’t talking about the idea of diabetes,but I am tentative about approving this comment. I wish you would go to one of my food posts and say this great combination… Thank you for your comment, anyway!

  6. There is no doubt that you have proven the fact that entering imagined worlds builds empathy and strengthens your ability to take on another person’s point of view, as you demonstrated here through the development of your character. The flow of questions and details you attributed to her was really interesting. Your own sense of empathy really shined through. Absolutely write fiction, Robin. And I loved the first piece as well – so rich in imagery and detail. Just loved both posts 🙂

  7. What curiosity lies in these lines! Great job weaving stories…especially using the theme doors. It lends itself to so much! My favorite part was walking up to the Minnelli’s door. Sounds quite adventurous.

    I loved reading about the Plagiarized story. That takes great diligence and a fierce memory of what you’ve read to find it. Bravo!

    I look forward to reading more…for now, it’s off to work we go. :0)

    • I am on break and should say this was nice to hear about my doors post and also, the High school story I found in my lit anthology book. Thanks a lot and hope to check out more of your posts, too.

    • Your mentioning “weaving” reminds me of how I try to layer things, adding details. I appreciate your finding these lovely things to say as bout my writing about a door. I agree, approaching the door took some bravery. 🙂
      The people were rather lonely and I think few people went up the long, hidden driveway to their secluded house. I bet you would have enjoyed meeting them and seeing their antiques and dumb waiter, Marie. Enjoy your weekend! 🙂

  8. I love this doors theme, too, Robin. How many doors do we pass without thinking about the story within. Yours always seem so thoughtful and significant. A lovely, peace post for such a serious day (when I read this, it was 9/11). Thank you for giving us a space to sit, think, read, and be a community.

    • I had a few moments of silence taken today, before leaving for work, thinking of that infamous and tragic day, Beth. My Dad died of cancer in 2001 (January) and I sometimes think it at least saved him from viewing planes flying into towers where no one before would have dreamed of attacking. 😦
      He was such a patriotic man, raising and lowering a flag in the front of our homes for years, respecting our country so much.
      Thank you for your companionable silence. I would have liked to sit with you, Beth.♡
      Also, thanks for caring to write such thoughtful words about my blog.

    • Joey, this means a lot to me to hear these sincere and warm words from you. I respect your education and how much you studied and learned.
      You know the fine details needed to argue a point and defend someone. You are a “power house.”
      I also admire your way of parenting, you have led several lives so far. You will be the one found in hard back, my friend. 🙂

      • I guess I always thought people could push on my name and get my posts or go to my gravatar page where my blog is. Funny, thanks for telling Mr you prefer to use my “head” to connect us. Ha ha!
        I could not leave a message on your post since my phone needs me to be on email to push “like” on some folks’ blogs instead of wordpress. I could push “like” on Eli, Danica, Neha, and Judy today. Many are either not following me or their posts say “waiting approval,” Joey.

  9. Thank you for your visits today. I was thinking about you the other day – and every time I see a full moon 🙂

    Actually in a few days hubby and I will have reached 36 years. And the bouquet had chrysanthemums because that is my birth month flower and the three roses were in honor of a grandfather who raised roses…

    I’ve been a busy camper this summer…um…not camping. Traveling with hubby, vacation with family, and now with Son of Son in a full day Kindergarten I get to take a nap when Little Miss sleeps in the middle of her stay with me.

    I read your bit about the door…we just got a new door! Well over the summer. Better insulated. I read some where, maybe in the paper that red doors in Scotland signified that the mortgage was paid off!

    I’ve also been having some WP issues with my notifications and other net issues which I hope to have resolved (well at least my local phone problem) this coming week.

    Be well and enjoy your family! Hugs, Jules

    • Thank you so much, Jules. It is funny how my life goes in spurts. May have mentioned Mom’s fall (shattered hip and surgery) and new baby born. I used 6 sick days and numerous weekends either helping DIL or visiting Mom. I am envious of your well deserved rest times. I love naps!
      Of course, every time I attempt poems (“the arrival,” was one about grandson, only boy for son to have of his own) I think of the layers of depth you show in your own very fine poems, Jules. Hugs and G’night. . .till we “meet” again, my friend. ♡
      p.s. Thank you for telling me they were white chrysanthemums and why the roses, too.

      • The way life goes, old and young. Blessings will be given to both ends of the spectrum. My Mom likes to tell people about my blog. She tells them, “My daughter is a writer. You know she writes a blog?” Cracks me up, Jules! 🙂

  10. Wonderful post, Robin! I especially liked your story about the house. I love those gingerbread houses! It made me smile to think of that couple hand-making those trick or treat bags too.

  11. Thanks for this interesting post.
    I have been ‘off-air’ for a few weeks, mainly because my internet is playing up.
    I was wondering how your mother was and how you are coping? I have been thinking about you and hope that all is OK.
    Your friend

    • Thank you, Elizabeth for asking about my Mom. I appreciate this so much. She is healing, her mind forgets to be careful and take her time with her legs. So far, they have an alarm on her wheelchair and her low bed. This will prevent a fall which would certainly not help her healing process. My two brothers and sister in law visit, taking turns. I was up a few weekends but we have been busy at work, so it means I need to rest between Fri. and Sun. Mom and I had fun with a few walks around the ponds and saw the sunsets, too. We watched some old movies and had good chats.
      I usually help my grown children with their children on weekends. Traveling keeps me from this, too. I am sorry to hear about your computer. How aggravating but also, in some ways, “freeing.” Hope to see if you have a post, Elizabeth. Meanwhile hope you snd your family are well and happy.:)

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