I entered because I found the initialed pillow she offered to be quite classic, and summer house-ish. I like initials. Probably all that early training in monograms. High WASPs do like their monograms. (I like summer too, which is icumen-in round here.) These are also pillows-in-good-conscience, as they are made from recycled sails. High WASPs like a good conscience, these days.
After I found out I had won, but before any choosing of letters, my stepfather got sick. He’s a long time sailor, around islands in the Swedish Archipelago, and now in the Santa Barbara harbor. It seemed like a good thing to have the pillow made for him, and then order another one for my mother. So that’s what I did. They arrived in the middle of the chaos of my stepfather’s recovery.
I asked my mother for her product review. Mom’s good at assessing stuff. She says the pillows have a nice texture, like really good linen paper, and are sewn in attractive zig-zag stitching. These are 12 inch pillows with 10 inch letters, so big, and bold. In Santa Barbara, you would put these out on your porch, or around the pool. They are more sophisticated than preppy, says Mom. I didn’t ask her how she defines preppy, these days. So let’s take that as preppy in the 1940′s. The pillows are not quaint, but graphic. The ultimate compliment? They are very “good looking.” If my sister is reading, she’s laughing. Tell me you don’t laugh at certain family phrases.
Mom also says they would been really good for her parent’s house in Tolland, Massachussets, at the Tunxis Fish and Game Club, or up in Maine, on one of those hanging canvas swings that everyone had.
There must have been pillows.
One summer we spent enough time on the Cape that my mother signed us up for the Wianno Yacht Club’s summer program. I was 12, old enough to take sailing lessons, young enough to have no idea of the connotations of a yacht club. It felt just like any other place where kids are taught activities, and lunch can be bought at a snack bar. The teachers put us, two at a time, into little boats and sent us sailing out in the harbor, alone. For the last night, we sailed, all of us, out to a sandbar and they fed us pancakes, made from batter kept in the water to stay cold. Little fish swarmed around the container, nibbling. We seemed so far from shore. But I digress.
The Santa Barbara beach down the hill from my mother’s house now smells like petroleum, just under the scent of tropical flowers and salt ocean. We take beach tar off our feet when we return, sitting on a bench outside the front door, surrounded by sand on tile, baskets of shovels, and the skin of little wet children. The sun is shining. We, the women, know the children are probably hungry and plan food, urgently, over their heads. Pillows or no pillows. Everything I say is true. I am not sure if it matters.
Have a wonderful weekend.