It all started with a phone call from Goldie…
no…not Goldilocks, though I have planted myself in a Goldilocks ‘just right’ location so the words can spill onto my writing paper. Some people call this type of paper ‘computer paper’ or ‘printer paper’…but to me, whose soul is intertwined with the tales of the inn, this is writing paper. And write my tale…I must.
If you know Goldie, who oversees a sacred shrine that beckons those in need of prayer, guidance, and healing, you know that Goldie knows everyone and Goldie helps everyone. I smile each time I see her somewhere. Goldie is fun and funny. She is animated, energetic…oh, I cannot really describe her accurately.
Well, Goldie called yesterday and said, “Are you at the inn? Remember I told you about Rose…she came to St. Michael’s Shrine today, and she wants to come see the inn now.”
Within minutes I gathered a young adult daughter, who has a soul as old as her mama’s, and raced to the inn. Within another few minutes Rose…Elsie’s daughter…arrived. Rose had spent her young adult years and early marriage years in this stately home…which is The 1910 Inn these days. It was about 65 years ago that Rose slumbered each night in the architecturally wonderful ‘round’ bedroom…which is Bedroom One these days.
Oh, every few months I wait for the tales of the inn to come to me. They always do. The inn’s history has some missing pieces, but bits of history continue to make their way to me and then to you, the readers of the tales.
Rose last spent time in her Mama Elsie’s house in 1964. Imagine…oh, how the world has changed since that year. But within the protective frame and plaster walls, it still feels like 1910. And to Rose it felt like 1952-1964, as she walked, looked, touched, smiled, reminisced, explained, and thanked.
My eyes just filled with tears…because Rose thanked me many times during our hour together. She thanked me for loving her mama’s house. Oh, how I truly love her mama’s house.
So…at this moment…I am writing this tale while I sit at the top of the staircase upon the 104-year-old wooden floorboards. A warm cup of honeybush, mandarin orange tea keeps me company. A clock ticks away the time behind the closed doors of what had been Rose’s bedroom when she was 20 years old in 1952. So peaceful…so serene…oh, this comforting home.
This is what I learned from Rose, and please forgive that I will list them in such a formal manner:
1) Elsie chose all the color combinations of the ceramic floor and wall tiles in the home’s eight bathrooms (gray/maroon; green/yellow; pink/gray; blue/maroon; pink/green; blue/purple/yellow/black…Rose exclaimed, “Oh, I hated that one!”.
2) Elsie chose the green marble in-lay for the fireplace.
3) Elsie chose the chandelier that cost $200 in 1952. Rose was silent for the long moment that she stared at her mama’s chandelier. Then she thanked me again for loving her mama’s house.
4) Rose’s daddy installed the bathroom tiles, the marble in-lay, the sparkling chandelier.
5) The side garden has space, because Rose’s parents bought a neighboring home and had it demolished so the family could have a yard.
6) A small building on the right side of the back yard was demolished because Elsie said, “It didn’t need to be there.” A 1919 map (oh, the amazing things that are found on computers) shows this ‘old house’ when it was a ‘young house’, and the small building at the back yard is labeled “Servants Quarters”. Yes...Elsie was right… “It didn’t need to be there.”
7) The veranda…oh, Rose was so upset with her mama when it was decided to enclose the veranda with jalousie windows. The glorious columns were camouflaged, the porch that caught the breeze each day was stifled, the grand home seemed hidden. Rose LOVES the veranda again. The veranda was the most costly of The 1910 Inn’s restoration. Specifically its ceiling restoration. Again the veranda has a presence that welcomes.
Well, a thought entered my head as I walked and listened to Rose: Her mama used to sing Italian songs in the backyard. ‘How do you know that?’, you may wonder. I know this sweet image, because Popi and Minnie told me. Popi and Minnie…oh, I am smiling at the thought of the darling sisters, who live together in the home their parents first purchased in 1937. Popi and Minnie’s mama’s backyard bordered Elsie’s backyard. And Elsie loved to sit outside, visit, and sing the songs of her native language.
A side story: Both Goldie and Rose have told me…there were only two Italian families in Tarpon Springs in those years. And as immigrant stories go…they embraced their new town and new life…and learned to speak Greek!
So, before I knew it, these words came out of my mouth and were spoken to Rose, “Would you like to go on a ‘field trip’? Would you like to go visit two sisters named Popi and Minnie? They live in their mama’s house, located behind your mama’s house. They remember how your mama used to sing Italian songs in the backyard.” Rose’s eyes and smile sparkled! “Why, yes! Let’s go. Let’s go see Popi and Minnie!” And so we stepped through a flower bed, crossed a dusty parking lot, walked alongside an ‘ancient’ corrugated metal garage (Oh, how I would love to see and touch the dusty and forgotten treasures in that time capsule!), talked to a few stray cats, and reached the front porch of Popi and Minnie.
Wonderful Tarpon Springs…in wonderful Tarpon Springs…when your thoughts are filled with 1910 and 1952 and 1964… you think nothing of stopping over unannounced to see a neighbor you have not seen in over 50 years! And in wonderful Tarpon Springs…your neighbor from 50 years ago answers the door, smiles, and welcomes you in for a visit. The ladies talked, reminisced, remembered, and laughed about their realization that there is much they no longer remember. I love watching ladies who are older than me. I want to be them one day.
Thank you for reading about Elsie’s house and Rose’s memories, and Rose’s visit with Popi and Minnie. Truly that afternoon was a highlight of my days at the inn. And oh, to see the wonder in my daughter’s eyes, to see how she soaked in their stories, to see her earnest stare and tear-filled eyes as Rose’s tear-filled eyes made a connection to hers. Rose left us that afternoon with beautiful words and wishes for the young woman who has a soul as old as her mama’s.
And so much more filled the weeks of Spring 2014 at The 1910 Inn, as I took care of Elsie’s house…
A ‘mermaid’ stayed at the inn. Amaryllis, the sculptor, who created Ama, the newest piece of art for Tarpon Springs, came to the inn from Paris and Las Vegas. Ama is a statue of a mermaid, who shed her tail upon the shore of Spring Bayou. A sponge, the accurate symbol of Tarpon Springs, lays at her new feet. Oh, Amaryllis, she was so delicate, sweet, childlike, enthusiastic, and kind. Magical, almost. She loved how the inn reminded her of her childhood spent in a 3-story home in Paris shared simultaneously by 3 generations of her family. Thank you, Tarpon Springs Public Art Committee, for bringing Amaryllis to The 1910 Inn. Readers, perhaps if you would like to make a donation toward the purchase of Ama for Tarpon Springs, please let me know, and I shall provide you with the information you would need.
Guests…oh, wonderful guests…they came to the inn for shared vacations with neighbor friends, job interviews in our area, retreats away from their busy schedules, birthday celebrations, graduation ceremonies, visits with grandchildren. Their lives are fascinating to me. Their joy is contagious.
I had long anticipated the visit of Mary, Jerry, and Jo-An. During the winter months, as they had planned their trip from Connecticut, each of them had called to talk to me individually. And each was ‘kinder than the other’…which in actuality is not possible. The inn was theirs for a week in June, and as I knew would happen…I miss them. Here is a sweet quote from “Words For Gardeners To Live By”: “If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” Those are the words of Vincent Van Gogh. Thank you, dear Jo-An for the lovely book. Thank you for sharing my love of nature and its darling little sprouting plants that surprise us throughout the inn’s garden.
Another thought just entered my head: I wish Jo-An could meet winter tenant, Lucille. They are true gardeners. They are such wonderfully sweet ladies. They would have such fun together in the garden of the inn. They each know how to find the beauty that continuously sprouts in such unusual little places around the inn.
Baby Luke, Baby Penelope, Bride Ryan Marie, Bride Lindsey, Bride Sylvia, Newlyweds Erika and Brian, and Newlyweds Stephanie and
Greg were showered with love during the spring at the inn.
Life at the Apartments of The 1910 Inn: Oh, thank you Aunt Angie and Uncle Rico for visiting during May. I am so thankful that the apartment provided comforts for your USA visit, and I pray that Aunt Yvonne and Uncle Nick will one day soon enjoy good health and a special visit at the blessed and peaceful apartment.
Stephen from the Republican Party, Taylor from Auburn University, Katie and Zach ‘from Tarpon Springs’…the apartments were bustling like a village in itself and the ‘village people’ became like a family.
There was an Afternoon Tea for 102 darling ladies adorned with hats and gloves!
The ‘Century-Old Cactus’…a masterpiece of nature…had 89 blooms on its peak bloom morning. Each white flower was the size of a dinner plate. You can always see these amazing floral photos on the inn’s facebook page.
This was a wonderful surprise: BuzzFeed, an online publication, posted a story entitled, “11 Small Florida Towns You Need To Visit”, and Tarpon Springs was #2 and “Where To Stay” was The 1910 Inn.
As busy as the winter is with tourists, that is as busy as the spring and summer become with the continuing inn restorations. The veranda ceiling’s 12-month restoration was completed with the final painting by John Danapas, a new balcony door was installed at Bedroom One by John of JKC Custom Doors, vintage brick repair is being done by the young master craftsman, Michael Risola; vintage fence installation is continuing by Michael Smith and Michael Risola. And the front yard…wait…just wait…I promise that more ‘curb appeal’ will arrive.
Well, my dear dear friends, thank you for reading about life at The 1910 Inn. It is like its own little world within these walls. The people…the stories…I really cannot put into words how I truly know that these people and stories come together at the inn…because THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO.
Please be well, be thankful, and enjoy the beauty and blessings of each day.