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Sneak a peek into Elkins Christmas past

The Emma Scott Garden Club and Kump Education Center invite you to a free 1930s-style Holiday Open House next weekend, Dec. 14 and 15 from 2-5 p.m. at 401 South Randolph Ave. across from the Elkins Kroger. Children’s activities will be available thanks to the new Interact Children’s Museum organization.

Ideas have been growing in the minds of Garden Club members. Katy McClane and others went to Dave and Cindy Proudfoot’s farm to find a natural tree. Judy Riffee found ground pine that can be used for on mantel pieces or bookcases. Bill Stump has provided holly garlands for the oak railing on the main staircase and elegant wreaths to adorn the doors. He has also found candle lights for the 12 front windows that can automatically turn themselves on and off.

Pat Mayes is planning a glorious glass fruit compote for the dining room table. Bobbi Trimboli is making displays that will show how people like the Kump family used to can and make jellies to preserve their garden harvest. You can see the original refrigerator and “mangle” presser.

Signature 1930s-style home decor included some magical features that contribute to our Christmas theme. Restoring the original light fixtures was an important feature of the 2018 electrical project funded the West Virginia Historic Preservation Office. All 1924 wiring was replaced by modern Underwriter Lab approved materials, but fixtures have new sockets and there are many more electric receptacles.

The wall sconce lamps cast a glow like candlelight. Harp motif sconces in the music room cast a lovely light over the harps motif on the table beside the Steinway piano. The piano needs to be tuned, but it is still in working order. On the other wall the Victrola has lots of its original records, but the right needle is missing. In the dining room the five sconces are silver, and the central chandelier has a silver tassel in the middle.

In the living room notice the “Antimacassars” or “Tidies” on upholstered furniture. These lacy covers helped to protect the backs and arms of chairs and sofas from hair oil and soiled hands. Some of the best hair oils came from Makassar, Indonesia, and men used it to groom their hair in a time when people did not take daily baths. These “Antimacassars” worked as well for any other hair oil or dirt on hands. They were locally made by women in Elkins who did “tatting,” a form of lace made by knotting threads. They add a white lacy touch that almost looks like snow on the surfaces of the upholstered furniture.

Next week’s column will explain what antique toys can tell us about daily life in the 1930s.