Now, don’t gather from this that Mrs. Brewster was an ample, pie-baking, ginghamed old soul who wore black silk and a crushed-looking hat with a palsied rose atop it. Nor that Hosea C. Brewster was spectacled and slippered. Not at all. The Hosea C. Brewsters, of Winnebago, Wisconsin, were the people you’ve met on the veranda of the Moana Hotel at Honolulu, or at the top of Pike’s Peak, or peering into the restless heart of Vesuvius. They were the prosperous Middle-Western type of citizen who runs down to Chicago to see the new plays and buy a hat, and to order a dozen Wedgwood salad plates at Field’s.
Mrs. Brewster knew about Dunsany and georgette and alligator pears; and Hosea Brewster was in the habit of dropping around to the Elks’ Club, up above Schirmer’s furniture store on Elm Street, at about five in the afternoon on his way home from the cold-storage plant. The Brewster place was honeycombed with sleeping porches and sun parlours and linen closets, and laundry chutes and vegetable bins and electric surprises, as your well-to-do Middle-Western house is likely to be.
That house had long ago grown too large for the two of them—physically, that is. But as the big frame house had expanded, so had they—in tolerance and understanding and humanness—until now, as you talked with them, you felt that here was room and to spare of sun-filled mental chambers, and shelves well stored with experience; and pantries and bins and closets for all your worries and confidences.
But the attic! And the cellar! The attic was the kind of attic every woman longs for who hasn’t one and every woman loathes who has. “If I only had some place to put things in!” wails the first. And, “If it weren’t for the attic I’d have thrown this stuff away long ago,” complains the second. Mrs. Brewster herself had helped plan it. Hardwood floored, spacious, light, the Brewster attic revealed to you the social, aesthetic, educational, and spiritual progress of the entire family as clearly as if a sociologist had charted it.
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Take, for example (before we run down to the cellar for a minute), the crayon portraits of Gran’ma and Gran’pa Brewster. When Ted had been a junior and Pinky a freshman at the Winnebago High School the crayon portraits had beamed down upon them from the living-room wall. To each of these worthy old people the artist had given a pair of hectic pink cheeks. Gran’ma Brewster especially, simpering down at you from the labyrinthian scrolls of her sextuple gold frame, was rouged like a soubrette and further embellished with a pair of gentian-blue eyes behind steel-bowed specs. Pinky—and in fact the entire Brewster household—had thought these massive atrocities the last word in artistic ornament. By the time she reached her sophomore year, Pinky had prevailed upon her mother to banish them to the dining room. Then, two years later, when the Chicago decorator did over the living room and the dining room, the crayons were relegated to the upstairs hall.