Posts Tagged ‘La Grange Illinois’

They were the largest, fullest, juiciest of snowflakes. Big blobs of a mashed moisture seemed to drop from the leaden sky with dollops of determination on an unsuspecting Saturday afternoon in a month known for April showers, not snowstorms. In between the whirling wind and pellets of sleet, I wondered where spring had gone to as I stopped at the grocery, the ATM, the library . . .  normal Saturday errands on a not-so-normal day.

It was just a short distance from the library, stopped at a red light,  that I noticed an OPEN banner in front of a small, local historical museum that I have been wanting to visit for a rather long time.

My car turned into the small parking lot, I braced myself against the ice and wind, trudged gingerly passed a patch of bluebells dusted with snow, climbed up the stairs of the historic Vial House and Museum and stepped into the warm vestibule where I was greeted by a volunteer who welcomed me in and briefly explained the current exhibition, a “Military Salute to Local War Heroes of WWI and WWII” . 

What an amazing, extensive historical collection of uniforms, articles, photographs, posters, memorabilia, and more – all donations to the historical society  from local La Grange and La Grange Park residents and on display for the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI.

The Vial House was built in 1874 by Samuel Vial and is now part of the LaGrange Area Historical Society.












A well catalogued guidebook in hand, with numbered items/explanations, I walked around the rooms of this small but significant exhibition, matched items with historical notes, and felt the awesome gratitude at the service and sacrifice of so many, and the appreciation, yet again, for the small but mighty historical societies that bind our histories together.


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We were at an antique fair at the beautiful Emmanuel Episcopal Church, in La Grange. An annual event on a tree-lined street adorned with turn-of-the-century Victorians and American Four Square houses, many wearing welcoming wrap-around-porches, we just discovered the event last year. My dear friend called me early last week to see if I wanted to meet her there  on Saturday. Indeed, I did!

Run for 55 years by the ladies of the church, the sale was at once elegant and approachable, with just enough antique vendors to have a great variety, and not too many to be hard to rummage around.

We laughed and we teased each other with “I think you need to buy this” or “Don’t you need another one of that” and took our time, respected each other’s appreciation of differing items, stopped here and there to chat with merchants and other attendees, and we had a most delicious lunch.

The church is a magnificent Victorian Gothic structure. Built in 1926. The church was established in the mid-1800’s. Its second building, completed in 1883, the year of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, burned in 1924. This long, leaded glass passageway in the photo is from the church to the meeting rooms and classroom areas. It was so inviting in the gloom of the snow, still falling. I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures.

Our lunch was a $10 purchase and bought us a prix fix meal, on porcelain plates and silverware, of chicken rice soup, a salad, and a ham and cheese croissant followed by desert of coconut lime cake, served by teens from the church with the most gracious of manners. This wasn’t a catered cuisine from the latest fashionable food vendor. It was prepared and served by the women’s auxiliary and was delectable! I bought a beautiful cut-work tea cloth – for $12.  Not a bad day!

About half way through our adventure, we were in small room where there was a lone dealer with beautiful jewelry, purses, china. The dealer was such a pleasant woman, who professed to be 6’2″. She had long, flowing grey hair and the bearing of aristocracy – with a hearty sense of humor. Someone asked about the provenance of a very large portrait, which was especially noticeable in the tiny room, wondering at the prim and proper woman, seated in a chair, winged eyeglasses fashionable for the era and a pin curl “do”. The painting, an oil, was dated 1953.

I didn’t quite hear the first comment. I heard the vendor say ” . . . but she really isn’t. Look at the cigarette resting in the astray”.

Oh, the conversation that followed. A room full of women like a gaggle of geese with everyone having an opinion on the identity of the matron in question. She was married to a lawyer, a judge, a politician.  She was an educator of higher learning, thwarted by her male peers. A defiant spinster. No, a missionary who had taken up smoking in the Congo. The real Bess Truman. The bishop’s wife, trying to hide the cigarette. Oh, the stories we started to weave and the more we wove, the sillier we got, with this unknown picture – a prompt in our impromptu creative stories class at the 55th Annual Antique Show!

Don’t you just love the people you meet at church antique shows, bazaars, and sales?

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