If I rummaged around my spare room long enough, I would find some pictures of my brother and I in our Halloween costumes, getting ready to walk around our neighborhood “Trick or Treating.” We had a route we always traveled; up Woodland Avenue to Uncle Richie’s, over First Street to Nana and O’Pa’s, backtracking through the gully to Uncle Rhinie’s, and then to Aunt Anna’s.
One Halloween, Uncle Rhinie must have been hiding in the garage with a bull horn because when we got to his house, we could hear what sounded like howling wild dogs. Being little, we were frightened until we realized it was our uncle; then we laughed. I’m so glad I can still hear his voice in my mind’s ear.
In spite of these wonderful memories, I am not a Halloweenie kind of person. I’ve never been to many Halloween parties and I don’t have a closet packed with costumes; I won’t be dressing up as anything besides myself today.
The best Halloween I remember was in 2005 and it was good because it was the same day my Junior League Show House co-chair and I met with the owners of the house we hoped would become our 2006 Show House.
One would think finding a suitable show house property would be easy; pick any big empty house, fill it with furniture, print up some tickets, and voila! Best fundraiser ever.
Not so fast.
The house my co-chair and I spied out was 4 Berkeley Street, a property belonging to the Episcopal Divinity School. Located on a very private residential street in the middle of the Old Cambridge Historic District, just a few streets over from Harvard Square, the house had good show house bones. If we could get the property owners to agree to the idea of a show house in theory, we could then pursue the idea in reality. Even just a smile and a handshake from the owners would be like opening the first Russian nesting doll, encouraging us to take the next steps in the process.
Brother Michael agreed to meet with us in his cheery office at the Episcopal Divinity School on Halloween afternoon, 2005. Finding a parking spot on Brattle Street seemed like a wonderful beginning and I shuffled happily through the leaves and late autumn sunshine in front of the Longfellow House. I met my co-chair, we smiled confident smiles and then marched into Reed Hall. Brother Michael was gracious and hospitable; he served us twig tea. Another member of the school’s administration came in; we outlined the mission of the Junior League, our particular talent as show house creators, our respect for the history and provenance of old houses, and the possible benefits of partnering with us on such a project.
Questions were asked and although no one said anything in the affirmative, Brother Michael seemed to agree with the idea in theory, so we shook hands all around and agreed to meet again in a week. My co-chair and I left the building and shuffled slowly through the leaves and slanting-away sunshine of Brattle Street towards my car.
A man walking a small white dog came towards us, the dog wearing devil’s horns and a little cape. The dog showed its teeth and barked a few times at us and then walked past. My co-chair was thinking out loud about all the details and next steps; I’m not sure she even noticed the devil dog. We had both forgotten it was Halloween.
We said our good-byes and I got in my car and drove home, worrying about the meaning of that little white dog. It had disturbed me; adding a dark note to a bright and seemingly shining day. Of course, it all worked out in the end and we signed our agreements with the Episcopal Divinity School and every other party who needed to give us permission.
Maybe the devil dog meant nothing; our show house turned out to be a financial success. I learned a lot about organizing events and people and my co-chair became a wonderful friend I hope to have in my life forever.
The only thing I can say for sure about little dogs dressed up in costume and decorator show houses is “the devil is in the details.”
The Junior League of Boston’s current Show House is closed for Halloween. It will reopen tomorrow, November 1, 2012, full of stunning and sparkling details. No dogs, please.
The Junior League of Boston’s 2012 Show House is at the Potter Estate, on the grounds of the Jackson-Walnut Schools, 71 Walnut Park, Newton, Massachusetts. The house is open from October 16, 2012 through November 18, 22012. The house hours are Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The house is closed on Mondays.
Tickets are $30 from a Junior League member or $35 at the door. For more information about the Show House or the Junior League of Boston, visit http://www.jlboston.org.