My Grandmother’s Curtains

The only curtains I have at The Academy, my home in Long Island, are in a small office adjacent to the main entry hall. The room has stacks of magazines, books, and various other supplies that often find their way into the house after making the trip from Manhattan. Though the curtains are beautiful, not everyone would guess that they are in fact among the most personally significant vintage pieces I own.

My grandmother was an antique collector and took me to some of my first auctions, where she often looked for American glass pieces and other curious things. Some of her ways have influenced me greatly, as I favor the patience and attention to detail required to build a meaningful collection. Sometime after she passed away, I remembered her brown and cream dining room curtains, seen here on the pale blue-green walls:

All of the window coverings were left up while her house was for sale, as is common practice. Once or twice I mentioned to my mother that I would eventually like to have the special curtains, if it was at all possible. My mother secretly managed to get the curtains from the family that bought the house. She packed them in a reused box from the mail order fruit company Harry & David. So when a box marked “Perishable” arrived while I was away just before Christmas my careful housekeeper placed it in the refrigerator without looking inside, thinking it was fruit or a cake or some other treat. My grandmother and parents love Harry & David, especially during the holidays.

The holidays passed by and I found the box from my mother in the refrigerator in my city apartment, opened it, and was surprised and delighted to find my Grandmother’s curtains perfectly refrigerated and protected, wrapped and secretly gifted by my mother from her mother’s house.

I fitted the curtains with a vintage drapery rod and hung them in my small office where they stand now, giving me a chance to say hello to my Grandmother as I come and go.