Before John and I bought our first home, we lived in several different apartments, moving around every year or so and getting a feeling of how we wanted to live. One of our favorite homes was a flat in South St Louis. It was easy walking distance to my parent's home, and I could visit my Mom most mornings.
We really liked our home on Fillmore St. It had two bedrooms, so there was plenty of space to start our family. We lived on the first floor. Upstairs lived a very sweet couple of senior women, Elsie and Jean. They were very good friends for many years, and when their husbands passed away they decided to live together. Aside from the traditional front and back entrances, our flat had a side entrance. It provided access from both of our apartments to the outside and the basement for storage and laundry. As we got to know each other, we left the side doors open so that we could visit and help each other out.
Their flat was filled with all of the collections that represented women of their era. They had beautiful carved Old World style furniture with embroidered linens draped over the arm rests, backs of chairs and all polished wood surfaces. In the front room they displayed an enormous collection of Hummel figurines. To this day, if I see one, I think of the two of them.
The ladies wore pretty print dresses with hats. In the spring they wore hand knit shawls and in the winter, long coats.They started every day walking several blocks to early morning mass. They cooked lightly and served everything on the delicate china they both had collected. Elsie and Jean had a fondness for baked goods so many of their daily outtings were to local bakeries. They were charming, sharing stories of their own young lives. We liked them very much.
I only knew them for a short time. Elsie passed away on a winter morning. It was cold out for walking, but she would not consider missing daily mass. Just a little while after she returned she died. Jean was beside herself with grief, and could not continue to live in the flat without Elsie. It was very sad not to have them upstairs any longer.
I made the above painting from a photo one of my friends shared with me. The photo triggered the memory, as the two women in the picture so much reminded me of Elsie and Jean. I had not thought of them in many years - but a flood of memory returned as I made my painting. And how perfect to make them into a birthday card tribute to such a friendship!
My best memories always include you!