Sunday, March 1, 2009

Naming The House

It doesn't seem to be the thing these days -- to give your house a name (and use it on your personal stationery, also a disappeared item. I can remember when a proper bridal gift was a box of engraved, monogrammed notes and envelopes meant for "thank you" missives.)

This custom started in Europe and crossed the Atlantic to the East Coast. In my mind's eye, I can see an example -- the great, looming stone "Condre Hall" in Huntington, NY. It has vast terraces on two sides of the massive house and with little trouble at all, I can "see" F. Scott Fitzgerald flappers and smooth guys, draped languidly on chaises, sipping cocktails. The north shore of Long Island is studded with these types of place. One sheik used to have himself choppered into The City weekdays. Wonder if he named his "Dubai West"?

In the Midwest (and I'm thinking specifically of Kansas City, MO) there is a long downward-sweeping avenue with great mansions on either side of it. The Kansas City Art Institute is situated in one, I believe.

Out here about all we have is "PickFair," the old Mary Pickford estate which has changed hands many times since the '20s. The Doheny Mansion (oil wells) is now a catered wedding/event site. It's quite elegant, but they don't allow use of the mansion's toilets; one has to go up a flight of stairs, traipse back up a path, across a parking lot ...not hospitable at all.

Texans always seem to name their ranches -- Possum Hollow comes to mind -- and my cousin's place is a good example. He, wife and little girl live in Corpus, but outside of Mathis, they have a working ranch with an official-sized roping arena! Complete to tiered stands and stadium lights. They use it for charity roping contests (and draw some of the biggest names in rodeo to them, too.)

If we ever won the lottery (insert hollow laugh here) and bought a place high up on Palos Verdes Peninsula, I know what I would name it. "Vue de Dieu" (God's View) because it very nearly is (not being blasphemous; it's like being in a low-flying airplane up there.)

However, here where we actually do live (36 in. between houses) I would have to lower my expectations considerably. "Warthog House" ("My dear, she looks exactly like one!") or perhaps "Lower Masses Containment"? But, not having any engraved, monogrammed stationery, it doesn't really matter ...

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