It occurs to me as I look around this grand home that so many things have changed since the time of the Whaleys. During their lifetimes many advances in technology were made, and I’m sure they were appreciative of what they knew to be forward thinking progress. However, those new technologies were just the tip of the iceberg. The Whaleys may have felt privileged to be surrounded by such luxuries, but I’m even more grateful to be living in 2013.
Pictured below is Florence Whaley’s sewing box. As an upper class young lady she would have been taught the finer skills of needlepoint, painting or flower arranging. She would not have been responsible for making or even mending her own clothing (they would have paid a seamstress or their maid for these tasks), but the truth remains – in 1890s garments were not quite the cash & carry items that we see today. Florence would have had custom made gowns or pieces from a catalog. I have Old Navy.
Another group of items that were staples to the Whaley family was their collection of fine silver. Each piece would have been meticulously crafted by an artisan, and its appearance would have remained pristine by the dutiful efforts of a maid’s polishing. It’s elegant, and we still use it to this day when we celebrate formal events, but for most of us it’s easier to grab a Corelle or Tupperware plate and enjoy our meals less grandiose.
And last (but most definitely not least) there is another beautiful item in the Whaley House that holds a special place in my historical passion. I’ve learned in the last couple of weeks that working in a large, old home can be a bit isolating. I can hear the grandfather clock ticking in the summer kitchen, and occasionally I hear traffic from I-475. To help soothe myself as I’m working, I like to listen to ambient music on Pandora. This gentle meditation style background music helps me feel less disconnected as I go about my internly duties. The Whaleys, of course, would not have been able to plug in their laptops and tune into streaming music on the internet. For musical entertainment they would have invited a guest or family member to play a selection on their piano or organ. These instruments were a gathering place for people within the house. Here they could delight at the player’s talent, as well as share an entertaining afternoon or evening in the House.
Until next time, be well!
-Your Humble Intern Mellie