Wall To Wall Carpets – One Of Life’s Ponderables

 My Aunt Pauline was something! She had red hair and a red head’s personality – flair and joie de vivre (she’d have loved that description) – everything a red-head should have.

AUNT PAULINE AND UNCLE JACK

AUNT PAULINE LONG BEFORE I KNEW HER -- Style, Flair, Energy

She greeted her world and every experience with relish, and she had a way of speaking that made me feel whatever she said was new, different, and exciting. She could make taking Grandmama to visit Papa’s grave sound exciting.
I loved going to her house which was right around the corner, so I was able to go on my own to visit her from the time I was seven or so. She had things nobody else had – she had a waffle iron!!

Aunt Pauline was all about what was pretty, what was stylish, what was new, and what nobody else ever talked about.

There wasn’t anybody else on Petain Street like her. Of course she didn’t actually live on Petain Street but around the corner on Craft Highway which was pretty much the same except it was paved with cement instead of red clay.

Christmas time, when I was six or seven, the whole family gathered at Aunt Pauline’s house where Mama or one of the uncles gathered us for a group picture. I came across it a few days ago and it’s probably why I woke up thinking about her.
I was in front, then were my favorite cousins Carolyn, Margaret, and Mary Gayle. On the next row

The cousins gathered at Aunt Pauline's house for Christmas Eve

The cousins gathered at Aunt Pauline's house for Christmas Eve

were Patty and Polly. I stood in the front because I was the youngest in the family, except for Johnny, and he lived way away in Brewton so I didn’t count him – I was the baby. Everybody else was dressed between Christmas-y and casual.

All dressed up for Christmas with rollers in my hair

All dressed up for Christmas with rollers in my hair

I was all dressed up in a ruffled Christmas dress — except for some reason I don’t know I had rubber rollers in my hair.

After the photo, my cousins dispersed leaving me to play with my dolls while the adults talked. I wasn’t paying attention until Aunt Pauline made a declaration I found so remarkable, so unexpected, so far removed from my world that it captured my full concentration. I stopped playing and pondered the words I would never forget.

“Nobody has carpets that are wall-to-wall anymore. It’s not the style. All the magazines show carpets stopping at least two feet away from the walls — as an accent.”

I was mesmerized, unaware of any other voices, or any discussion there may have been about this trend in home decorating – just Aunt Pauline’s.

I’d had never known a single house in Prichard to have the now unstylish wall-to-wall carpet, or an accent carpet either. Even if we could afford carpets, Petain Street was paved with Alabama’s famous red clay and the clay dust got ground into every piece of furniture and every curtain.

The old wood floors in our houses, if they were covered at all, were covered with linoleum. It came from the store in big roles that were printed to look like carpet, with blue, red, purple, and green flowers. But the colors quickly dulled as the clay and sandy soil of land nearly at sea level were ground into it by our shoes.

Even before the linoleum dulled, jagged lines of cracks appeared in it. Nobody would ever think of paying extra to have the linoleum laid and glued down by men from the store. “What? Waste all that money on something we can do for ourselves?” So the linoleum buckled even while it was being laid and it cracked with the first footstep.

“Nobody is putting in carpets that go wall-to-wall anymore. It’s not the style. All the magazines show carpets stopping at least two feet away from the walls — as an accent.”

What more is there to say? It’s a riddle and I still don’t have an answer. I suppose carpet’s the punch line of this posting. More about Aunt Pauline later.

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