Each year, during the winter holidays, the Historic Districts of LB are invited to decorate a room at a grand Victorian adjacent Drake Park known as the Bembridge House. This incredible LB asset is owned and operated by the LB Heritage Society.
The middle bedroom seen above pre-transformation – is decorated by the elves of RP’s Historic Districts. This year these trusty folks were inspired by a fictional account of what might have happened back in 1910. A young woman from Chicago attends festivities at the Bembridge House. Well read on….
The Guest Bedroom – 1910
Edith has arrived by train just this afternoon, exhausted yet bursting with energy. She’d traveled all the way from her town near Chicago to visit these distant relatives in Long Beach, California. Even the name of this place was delicious.
Edith was the only daughter of Frederick and Mavis Bennett. Approaching her twenty-first year she’d lived a predictable life thus far. That is, for someone from Oak Park, Illinois. All young woman in her family’s social circle attended Miss Ravenwood’s Academy for Girls as a way to be prepared for marriage.
Frederick and Mavis, rather Pappa and Mother, received a letter just about a month ago from Stephen and Josephine Green with a lovely invitation for Edith. Can you imagine, being invited to spend Christmas and New Year’s in southern California? Picture perfect images of all those oranges and palm trees kept playing in Edith’s head like a stereoscope.
Arriving in Los Angeles after two days of travel; Mr. Green sent his private touring car to pick her up, and now she’s here, in this precious room.
The Green’s did not have a daughter. In fact, there were no children. Edith’s parents described them as very social, loved to host parties and receptions.
“Mrs. Green, ‘please call me JoJo,’ offered to help with my wardrobe,” Edith said. “I think she might even take me to a dressmaker, if need be. Oh the stories I’ll share with my schoolgirl friends, Katie and Miranda when I get back to Illinois.”
JoJo took me on a tour of her closet with the most exquisite gowns made of fabrics I’d ever seen. She offered to help with my long chestnut hair, maybe put it up in a chignon. Mysteriously her clothes fit me. I’m taller than most young women my age, but slender in the hips and full upper torso. Perfect for the Empire waist and s-fitting corset bodice.
Tonight I would wear one of these magic ensembles from Paris. I knew I would not upstage JoJo in her harem pants. I would look modestly royal, definitely continental and appropriately elegant with just the right amount of diamonds befitting a young unmarried woman.
I simply floated down the grand staircase, looking into a sea of admiration. JoJo whisked me through the crowd to introduce me to Jens Wastlund, it seems he lives nearby and came with his parents.
A small orchestra playing By the Light of the Silvery Moon – and if I could trust my eyes – exotic birds in large gilded cages decorated the room. Waiters were literally dancing with silver trays carrying crystal flutes filled with intoxicating liquid amber.
Jens was in the middle of describing plans to become a builder of airplanes. That Long Beach was a perfect spot. The weather, lack of mountains, open spaces when loud sounds came from the library. Frankly, I’m not sure exactly about what but I did hear men’s voices yelling.
In the Midwest, raising one’s voice is just not allowed and certainly not during a holiday party. Just as I’d collected my thoughts, the voices died down and the music seemed to get just a bit louder.
But my new friend Jens had vanished after a very brief “I have to go”. Somehow JoJo circled by to introduce me to some young ladies visiting from Los Angeles. They were chatty. Sharing tidbits about a new entertainment industry called motion pictures. There was a big operation right here in Long Beach. One girl, I recall her name as Sam, asked did you come to Long Beach to be in the movies? Wide eyed, I wondered to myself just exactly what I was doing here?
Three hours later, lying on this down filled bed, I dreamt of flying machines with people looking out the windows at the land below. I saw myself dressed in wild outfits acting out stories that would be seen around the world. I imagined excitement and a future. A future here in Long Beach.
[Although the historical context is fairly accurate; there is no evidence to support this lovely fairy tale – Happy Holidays! and visit the Bembridge House!!]