Monthly Archives: January 2014

Grandma Rynkus’s Birthday

It’s been a little over a year since Grandma passed away. Today is her birthday, and she would have been 90. A year ago at this time, on Facebook and before I started this blog, I wrote a note describing some of my feelings and observations about the handling of her death. I think it’s appropriate to also memorialize that here, on this blog that chronicles so much about not just this house, but the lives of many in my family. I offer no commentary, besides sharing:

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OK, one small note: the picture in the obituary is her driver’s license photo (!). Here is a much better one, taken when my cousin Matt, my aunt and I took her to Buffalo in 2010 on a whim to witness the revived Dyngus Day celebration, something she partook in during her youth:

Grandma at Buffalo's Dyngus Day, 2010.

Grandma at Buffalo’s Dyngus Day, 2010.

I do promise that my next post will be about happier things. Thanks for reading.


1962 Heritage Perennian Furniture Catalog

My grandparents were no slouches when it came to purchasing durable goods for the house – they saved up and purchased things that were nice, and generally contemporary for their time. They shied away from “traditional” furniture and lines. In the living room and dining room spaces, they purchased higher end Heritage furniture, from a collection called Perennian. Heritage today is known as Drexel Heritage (a combination made in the late 1950s, though for a time they were still marketed separately.)

Perennian isn’t a very “hot” vintage mid-century item, precisely because it wasn’t very avant-garde for its time and therefore stand out as must-have mid-century for collectors today. Perennian furniture represented a bridge between very contemporary mid-century furniture designs from makers like Knoll (who produced Eames, Saarien, Noguchi and others) and the more traditional furniture that Heritage had been known for previously (and is known for today.) The furniture featured subdued but modern lines and made extensive use of woods such as walnut, pecan, and wormy chestnut. In spite of the subdued looks, it is very mid-century. It’s also very nice, sturdy, high quality, mostly solid wood furniture, which is typical of Heritage. Much nicer and higher quality than vintage Acclaim and Broyhill Brasilia, for instance.

Interestingly, the fact that this furniture wasn’t worth “a lot” became a point of contention – my grandmother and aunt insisted they were worth more than an appraiser said. In the end, my aunt took the dining room set to a new house she bought, so this problem went away on it’s own, fortunately.

The living room also has several Perennian pieces as well – a three-part coffee table set and two end tables. Ultimately, we kept one of the end tables, and Grandma wanted the others for her new apartment after moving out. I very, very rarely see Perennian furniture out in the wild – but interestingly, Tricia over at Modchester (in her fancy Rochester mid-century house) inherited a beautiful group of Perennian furniture from the original owners of her place.

One of the things that I did keep was the original Perennian catalog from 1962. For posterity (and because Pam over at Retro Renovation archives these too, which I will send her way) I went ahead and scanned the entire catalog. It’s pretty interesting seeing the different pieces, the fabrics and suggested layouts. So, here it is, all 45+ pages in high resolution for your viewing enjoyment:

The Taming of the Forsythia

In several places on the property we have forsythia bushes. They’re very pretty in the spring…for about three weeks. The rest of the year they are either dormant or just big and green. It isn’t that we don’t like them…but left to their own devices and planted in the wrong spots, a forsythia will grow completely out of control…like the ones on the back corners of the house. Here’s a shot showing the bigger one. It’s almost 20 feet tall. It is so large that when we were kids, we built a fort in the middle of it:


I have some plans for landscaping around the house, and they don’t really include the forsythia bushes. Over the summer I tackled cleaning up our front landscaping, though there is more to do there next year as well. We will probably leave the giant one next to the road so we can enjoy the color in the spring, but the ones around the house definitely have to go – they occupy the flattest places around the house and take up an enormous amount of it. So after Mary and I got settled back in from the wedding and honeymoon, I set about at least starting on the project of chopping down the forsythia. This is a multi step process. If you’re not familiar, a forsythia is a giant mess of woody stems. If they touch the ground, they root in that location and the plant grows outward. It creates a nearly impervious thicket. To cut it down required a lot of time with the lop pruner, basically going after each individual branch. Eventually, however, I did prevail and got step one completed: the forsythia is now just a big set of stumps.


Sounds great, right? Well, besides hauling away the cut branches, that isn’t enough to actually kill a forsythia. Left alone, those stumps will grow into yet another giant forsythia bush. Digging them out will require some heavy duty labor, potentially with mechanical equipment, so I am saving that for the spring. I have a whole plan for the back that includes putting in a bluestone sidewalk around the garage (originally there was a concrete sidewalk, but it was removed in the 70s after it fell apart), removing the raised flower bed my grandparents put in in the 80s, and extending the landscaping beds around the sides and back of the house, since it will look very bare. But, I do have a plan for that, too:


(Coincidentally, I also have the landscaping plan from the last time the house was landscaped, in 1997…)

Come spring, besides expecting a baby (end of April), I will have my hands full outside finishing the landscaping as well.


The Family Silver

As regular readers of the blog are aware, Mary and I got married back in August of 2013. It was a whirlwind of fun, family and friends. When you get married, you are of course given gifts of all types. We received some very special ones from a lot of folks.

My Grandfather (the Rynkus one) has one sister who lives in California. She’s a number of years (12-14) younger than he is. I’ve met her only a few times in my life, but she makes appearances in the family slides I have on several occasions and I speak to her periodically by phone and email. Leading up to the wedding she gave me a heads up that she would be sending along a special family gift – the silverware set belonging to her parents (my Great Grandparents.). My Great Grandparents are Stephen and Laura Rynkus, married November 29th, 1922:


She also enclosed the following card:


The silverware set was a gift to them for their wedding – service for 12 at that. (For those thinking of a heist – it’s plated, not solid. Sorry to deflate your hopes.) The silverware is a 1919 pattern from 1847 Rogers Bros. called “Ambassador” that was very popular at the time:



This Christmas, we hosted Christmas Eve dinner with Mary’s family and got an opportunity to use this fancy set of silverware. We ended up making dinner for 11. We chose to make a Crown Roast of Pork, served with red potatoes, shallots and asparagus. To finish Mary made, among the usual suspects (cheesecake, pie) – Grandma Rynkus’ Polish kolache recipe. That Crown Roast? This is what it looked like:


So the short answer to my Great Aunt Grace is – yes, the silverware is seeing happy times, as you hoped. The roast? It was spectacular, too.