Category Archives: house history

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 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.

Hickory Trees and Nuts

We have a few Shagbark hickory trees on the property. I’m not sure if they were planted by my grandparents or not, but they have been here since the house was built, based on the pictures I have. They’re really spectacular trees for a few reasons. First, they are a very good looking tree any time of the year. In the winter, even without leaves, they have a very strong and visually appealing branch structure:


This is the first picture I took with the Polaroid, the day after we moved in.


This one was shot with my Grandfather’s 1956 Exakta 35mm SLR camera, taken in the spring.

The shagbark hickory is truly awesome, save for one small detail – every few years, it produces so many nuts the ground is covered and feels like a skating rink. Fortunately, when we got our new lawn tractor I made sure purchased a lawn sweeper. So picking these up, while a hassle, was not the end of the world.

But the best part about all those nuts? They’re edible! Hickory nuts are in the same family as a pecan. Shagbark hickory nuts are actually sweeter and tastier than pecans. So why do we all buy pecans at the store instead of hickory nuts? Economics. Hickory nuts are smaller and much more difficult to crack open and get a “half” nutmeat. For pecans this is (relatively) easy…so pecans are commercially viable to produce, but hickory nuts are not. But if you want to invest a little time (like I do) and collect and shell them yourself, you’ve got your hands on some great stuff. When it comes to using them, it’s very simple: Anything you can do with pecans, you can simply replace with hickory.

As the fall went on, and the nuts all fell off the trees, I collected a few buckets of them. A few days before Thanksgiving, Mary and I spent an hour or two in the basement cracking shells and pulling out the nut meat, and she used them to make an amazing hickory nut pie. While it was certainly a fair bit of work, the reward was worth it. A hickory pie has the same great taste of a pecan pie, but hickory nuts have a sort-of “maple” taste to them as well.

If you wanted to try your hand with hickory nuts, there are people on the Internet who sell the nuts from their lawns more or less ready to go. It is worth it.

Here’s my hickory nut cracking process:

Man Down!

So…this happened:


In September, we were hosting a gathering of family and friends after Mary’s paternal grandmother’s funeral, and one of my mother-in-law’s good friends who was helping set up accidentally walloped the lamppost attempting to back up the driveway. It’s a bit of a feat in itself – the post isn’t exactly right next to the driveway (it’s 3 feet off and down a hill) – but it took a shot and down it went. Fortunately, while it looks pretty bad here in this picture, it’s a tough-as-nails vintage Progress Lighting fixture and post made of cast aluminum and extra thick glass. Bruised and battered? Yes. Ready for the trash heap? We’ll see. So off to work I went.

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One Year

Today marks one year since we moved in. A lot of big stuff has happened for us and around the house in that year:

– We completed multiple major house projects: Living RoomKitchen (full before\after coming soon), Family RoomBedroomsLandscaping and a laundry list of all sorts of smaller projects. The work has been hard but it’s incredibly rewarding seeing the finished products. Our house will be featured in our community’s annual home tour, with the goal of “breaking in” Mid-Century Modern styles as a viable stop for a tour that has historically only included Victorian and Arts & Crafts style homes.

– We hosted a big housewarming party that we called Retro Martini Night. It featured martinis of all sorts and a big dance party in the living room to end the night. People were here until 2am.

– We were married in August. It was a lot of work but a lot of fun. We had a huge amount of family come as well as all our friends. It was a blur, but easily one of the most fun weeks we’ve ever had.

– Grandma Rynkus passed away in January, only a few months after moving out. She was experiencing steadily increasing heart failure, which severely impacted her demeanor and activity in her final months. This was sad in many ways – my mother and surviving aunt (the other died about 15 years ago), so the Rynkus children – have had significant troubles among themselves and with lots of others over the years, and unfortunately have directed their troubles towards those in my generation of the family. As the oldest, I have dealt with most of it, up to and including the two of them deciding to leave me out of my Grandmother’s obituary in a form of spite, which in a lot of ways overshadowed her passing. Fortunately, the rest of the family on both sides is filled with great people, and Mary and I are very excited to be preserving a legacy here in the house, however.

– Mary’s Grandmother passed away in September. Her passing was unexpected, but she lived a long and interesting life as well. We were happy she was able to be around for our wedding and be a part of it. After the services, family came here to the house for a long afternoon of visiting and catching up. Her family does not have the drama of parts of mine, fortunately.

– Mary and I are expecting – our first child should be arriving sometime at the end of April or early May 2014. (See how I just casually threw that in there last?)

More to come, as always!