Category Archives: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Thursday’s Doors~ September 10, 2015

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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.

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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

(9/10/15)

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:

http://miscellaneousmusingsofamiddleagedmind.wordpress.com


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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

homeless.

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

life.

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,

Ohio.

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…