Thursday, February 28, 2008

March in Willow: Currier and Ives and Eleanor

My grandmother, Eleanor Hall Martin, was somewhat of a snob. She grew up on the prairies of Iowa and Wisconsin. Her father was a surveyor staking land for the railroad, and later living "in town" as a banker in Mason City, Iowa. It was a Laura Ingals Wilder sort of life on a recently settled frontier. Eleanor was proud of herself for getting out of "the sticks" to go to college at Northwestern in Chicago and always considered herself much more cosmopolitan than her peers. She would ridicule her neighbors for having "Currier and Ives" prints on the walls of their living rooms. She had reproductions of Salvador Dali and Goya. But she did have some table mats with Currier and Ives farm house scenes-- lithographs of the rural life she had left behind. Using them on her kitchen table let people know she could eat on them, but never consider them "Art". It was sort of like having Sponge Bob table mats-- to her they were high camp. Something she could feel superior to.
And here I am, sixty five years after eating my Cheerios on those farm house mats, living in complete Currier and Ives land.

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