Love, strength, courage and style

November 4, 2011

My mom wrote the blog post below about her family. I read it and it got me thinking about my surroundings. Since I spend quite a bit of time at the café, I took a look around and realized a few things have gotten a little shabby. It is time for a little refreshing.  When it was time to update our website, it took five years. Hopefully this little project won’t take quite as long. However, I hope that it will bring a touch of elegance, comfort, and coziness to our home away from home.


Mary Brown Houston was born 120 years ago, October 19, into a privileged family in Springfield, Missouri. She studied design at Drury College as a young woman, romantically followed her young husband to Indiana where he was stationed during World War I, then on to the burgeoning auto industry in Michigan  and Ohio. Life was upwardly mobile, new home to decorate, her daughter studying piano under a pupil of the composer Rachmaninoff. To be a “cultured woman” was the social goal of the day and she was very comfortable in that role.

With the financial upheaval of the Great Depression, they lost everything. Struggling to hold the family together, she moved back to “Grandma’s in Springfield.”

There she aligned herself with an oriental rug importer, Mr. Malik, and began “decorating” homes, including homes for dignitaries in Jefferson City, Missouri. During this time she accumulated some beautiful oriental rugs and accompanying furniture.

Her sofa is right at home in our contemporary home today, redone as it was originally.

I had not thought too much of the design element about my grandmother, Mary, until yesterday, her birthday. As I thought about her, I began to realize how beautiful her homes were. Though she and my grandfather never regained wealth, their homes I remember were beautifully decorated with “our” style which was always described as “Queen Anne.” Oriental rugs, predominantly red, with dark stained, graceful – never heavy – furniture were all arranged in proper proportions.

Gardening – beautiful roses (Tiffany and Peace) were properly fed, pruned, and tilled, wearing her wide brimmed hat and light jacket even in 100 degree weather! I don’t believe I ever saw her in a pair of pants!

Award winning cook – she even had Eleanor Roosevelt visit her home when they lived in West Virginia because the First Lady was so impressed with Mary’s cake, pie, or cookies (I don’t remember which). Everything she served was beautiful. The table was beautifully set with flowers from the garden as centerpieces.  Comfortable love and closeness – what we experienced growing up, as my grandmother and grandfather lived right next door! Our lives were woven together – peaceful – beautiful and strong!

You can see the original post, with pictures of my ancestors, here.

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