Helen Chappell - August 2006

This Year’s Estate & Gardens Tour
by Myrtle P. Goodyear
Supreme Commander, Historical Daughters of Santimoke
As Transcribed, Verbatim, by Helen Chappell

     This year’s Stately Estates and Gardens Tour will be held this year in July, from July 5 to July 10. Many historical old houses and gardens will be featured on this year’s tour, including some very old places with carved interiors and Palladin architecture, although Richard Boone is dead. Although he never lived around Santimoke, but Claude Rains and his lovely wife did until they moved away.
      Also Robert Mitchum and Mrs. Mitchum lived around here, but their house isn’t on the tour because it isn’t historical enough to meet the criterions of the Historical Daughters of Santimoke, which are very stringent about whose house is historical and whose isn’t. And if that snippy Susan Dochstedder thinks her house is going to be on the tour this year, she’s sadly mistaken because everyone at the club knows she cheats at bridge. Don’t print that. You’re not printing that are you? Because Commander Louisa Skinner is her sister-in-law and she’ll just have a big old fit if she knows that’s why the rest of the Historical Daughters voted down Greenmarsh, which is the name of that place Susan and Henry live, although you couldn’t pay me to say it’s old, since it was only built in 1943 by some millionaire who moved down here until his wife shot him in that duckblind accident.
      At least they say it was an accident, but you couldn’t prove it by me, since she ran off and married the hunting guide three months later.
      Now, stop me if I run on; I like to be right on the point at all times, and that’s what I tell the Daughters at our meetings. Stay on the point, I say and don’t ramble on like old Mrs. Oswald de Coursey did, poor thing. You know they had to take her off a nursing home because she told everyone at church that General Patton and Wallie Warfield- - -that’s the Duchess of Windsor, dear- - - were having an, well they were canoodling in her rose garden, or so she said, although both of them had been dead for years. Poor Reverend Davis was just mortified. He’s a nice man. He won’t use The Song of Solomon for his wedding texts, no matter what these young girls want.
      Where was I? Have a little more sherry, dear? It’s so good for your cholesterol. If the late Mr. Goodyear had drank sherry instead of those martinis of his, he’d still be alive, poor thing. Nothing good ever comes of a drink where you just pass the vermouth bottle over the gin and drop in an olive, and so I told him right up until the paramedics came! Always a nice dry sherry. I buy a gallon of it every Friday night. Not that I drink, oh, no, but one does like to have something on hand for when people drop by.
      Now Flyspeck Arundel- - - do you know him? Such a dear man. What? Oh his nickname came from when he was a baby and he was no bigger than a flyspeck, or that’s what his people said. Everyone calls him Flyspeck. The Arundel homeplace will be on the tour, of course. Although Lord knows, Sheila could do a better job of keeping up that rose garden. There’s some very old plantings in there, just positively historical, and they can certainly afford to hire some help, instead of letting it get to be such a jungle back there, but neither one of them are that young, and both of them have failing eyesight, which explains what that house is always so dirty.
      I told Mary Ann, I told her I could just weep when I see those fine old Baltimore Federalist pieces all dusty and dingy, and all that animal hair on those fine old Persians. If Old Miss Lena could see that house, she’d just turn up and die all over again, she was so house proud. Of course, I think Flyspeck drinks a little, and Sheila’s from California, where you can expect that kind of behavior from people. Do you know she used Comet to clean the top of a marble top table? I just about died, but it’s not my place to say anything.
      The woman who cleans their house comes to me on Tuesdays, and I’m going to put a word in her ear about making sure at least the public rooms are clean before the tour. But you can’t expect her to do everything, can you ?
      And of course, she goes to Bitsy and Roger’s on Fridays.
      Miasma will be on the tour. Why, that house goes clear back to the 1600s, at least the smokehouse does. Lovely old brick, right there on the river. Five bedrooms, too, although they say Roger’s living in the guesthouse since that incident at the Christmas party with his secretary. I don’t know about these lawyers around here. You hear all these stories. . . Roger’s father bought Miasma from the Comptons, a lovely old family. Too bad they let that place go to rack and ruin at the end. It was so bad, I heard the last generation went to drugs, and ran a communist in there, with all those hippies living there and chickens being kept in the butler’s pantry! But they’ve got Miasma fixed up right nice, and neither of them wants a divorce because then they’d have to sell that great big house, and if they didn’t have Miasma, no one would even want to know them!
      Oh, oh, oh! I forgot! Peckerwood’s on the tour! Now, there’s a grand old estate! Have you ever been there? No? Well, the Soffits are rather exclusive, dear. They support the arts but don’t like artists. Think they’re messy, but don’t take it personally. They don’t like anyone, not really. And she was a Pewsey, which is nothing to write home about. Her people lived down in Dorchester County in a shanty in the Necks. But Peckerwood is such a lovely house. Sweeping columns, lots and lots of exquisite Italian Empire pieces just dripping with ormolu. And they have this just wonderful, breathtaking old growth boxwood gardens that go back to Colony Days when William Paca presented them as a gift to some lady who lived there. Just acres and acres of box, a maze and a gallery and an allee and everything! Of course, the place just reeks like dog pee pee
      All the time, but that’s the price you pay for priceless old boxwoods.
       I just love Peckerwood! It has the original slave cabins, isn’t that just divine?
      And we’re so fortunate this year to have Melancholia Hall on the tour! The original owner was a Signer, Josiah Smudge of Smudgeville, and George Washington slept there! Did you know they have a letter he wrote in the archives at Mount Vernon, telling Martha he didn’t know which was worse, the bedbugs or the fleas?
      Melancholia Hall’s on several registers of historical places, you know. They can’t drive a nail in the plaster to hang a picture without getting permission from about ten different organizations!
      Have you seen those old fashioned bathrooms? That was the last time you used an outhouse? Isn’t it quaint and charming? Well, perhaps not in sub zero weather, yes, I agree, but Dr. and Mrs. Splendiem have such a charming collection of chamber pots. Including the one Washington used. Yes, I wondered if anyone had washed it out since, but you can’t be too historically accurate when you own an historical old house. You have to make sacrifices.
      And last on the tour is Gloom Manor. Dear Glenn and Fred bought it when it just a shell, and they’ve spent years restoring it!
      Just such exquisite taste. Of course, both of them know so much about antiques, and have so many friends who are interior designers and dealers who know where all the really good auctions are. And they did all the work on it themselves, just so handy. And it’s beautifully decorated. Have you seen the water gardens? Glenn did all the work himself, designed them and laid the pipes and did all the lovely, lovely plantings. And Fred just whips up such scrumptious dinners. And they do so much with community theater musicals. You know, Gloom Manor was an absolute wreck before they stepped in and saved it. I keep telling them a couple of handsome young men like them need to meet some nice girls, and I’ve even introduced them to a couple of our local belles, but they just don’t seem interested, and I can’t figure out why some sweet young things haven’t swept the pair of them off their feet! I guess they’re just going to end up as perennial bachelors.
      Anyway, that’s the Estates and Gardens Tour for this year. I do hope you’ll be kind enough to write it all up for us. It’s going to be ever so exciting!
      Another glass of sherry, my dear? Can’t fly on one wing!