Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Eastman House - stories in the air

Thursday: None of my days in New York have been going according to "Plan A," and that's working out pretty well. Drove into Rochester this morning, not the most impressive parts of town. It occurred to me that my method of using a compass and a bad map - Oh, we should intersect this street eventually - would drive some people mad. But I come across things and sights I didn't plan on, like a Greek Festival in progress. I was starving and just about to reach for a pack of nabs when I saw it. The full meals were more expensive than I had planned on for lunch, but I happily bought a plate of dolmades - stuffed grape leaves. I was disappointed that they were the cold, rice (vs. lamb) kind, but I should have known from the low price. However, I enjoyed the serendipity and the live music as I dragged each bite through olive oil.

I had passed by one of the book shops on my list and missed the other two, intending to look for them again after I visited the Eastman house. The house tour was worth the $10 admission. I walked through this glass-sided colonnade that looked onto a beautiful garden, an aura of Great Gatsbian parties rising from the wicker furniture. My favorite part was the conservatory, a two-story room with lots of glass and plants, an elephant's head high on the wall (that George Eastman shot on safari - a rogue elephant, which makes me feel a little better) and a pipe organ in the far wall.

George ate breakfast in this room, awakened by the organ for an alarm clock, and also entertained with intimate lunches.

A grand staircase climbs up to the second floor, with views over the conservatory. One bedroom and bath have been decorated for that era. I could just imagine myself floating along the balcony and stairs on some formal occasion - oh, the stories you could write in this setting! (I later found out that George never married, but he entertained a lot.)

Another room had a safari tent set up, and a list of the groceries and accoutrements he would take with him to Africa.

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