North America,  Travel

Whoop Whoop, These Summer Days of Bobbsey Twins and Vintage Gold Glasses

I woke up feeling chipper today. Was it because I was in a state of almost intoxicated sleep where I drifted in and out thinking, here I am getting out of bed now, but there I was, still in that beatific place? Or, was it because my husband appeared suddenly to lift me straight out of bed and deposit me in the bath? I could not tell, but the latter is rare commodity nowadays with Adi wading incessantly through a bottomless pit of work (on his part, the impetus would have been decidedly his morning dose of blended cold coffee).

Strangely enough, it is also one of those mornings when my body feels unaccountably light and frothy, ready to whiz up the intimidating Kanchenjunga (I told you, some kind of foolish and manic goodness this), or even brave the mugginess inside a cheese factory to churn cheese. If you have been inside of one of those, you know it is a feat. If you have not, imagine a steam room where you would not last more than 10 minutes. Or actually, you could just imagine plodding through the streets of Calcutta/Chennai in summer. Strange because it is the time of the month when my hormones do their crazy dance, and I feel far from dancing, more like curling up with a book into a ball of misery.

To not drive my male readers into the farthest corners of the universe, let me get on with the pleasant discoveries of this season. My sister-in-law was visiting us, sans family. She had heard from a friend about the antique towns of New Jersey. Imagine our chagrin. We have been here two years, and yet, we had no blooming idea about their existence.

It is thus that we found ourselves an hour away from home in a town called Lambertville.

Lambertville. When my sister-in-law read its name out loud as an antiquing town upon the Delaware river, my mind started twirling. Intimate cafés, leafy streets, sprawling antique stores, people ambling through a riverside town…We drove into this town that I had conjured in my mind. As delightful as Cirencester in its antiquing prospects. With as large antique stores that made the heart flutter with the anticipation of experiencing past pleasures.

The Lenni Lenape Indians lived in Lambertville before it was colonised. After the land was bought off them, the first resident of the town was a gentleman called John Holcombe. This was sometime in the early 1700s. Why is it not called Holcombeville then? Well, in came a family next. The Coryells. They developed a portion of the town and even started a ferry here, which was subsequently used by George Washington and his men, when they were quartered here during the Revolutionary War. But was it called Coryellville, or even Georgetown, as the Coryells wanted, after one of their sons who served in the New Jersey forces? No sir, no. The honour went to the Lambert family who swished into town a century later, in the early 1800s. The Coryells seethed, but that is all they could have done anyway, stewed in righteous indignation, because John Lambert was a New Jersey governor. And as we know, politicians are politicians for a reason.

The sky was chirping blue that morning, and the sun, it shone with no cares or clouds to mar its radiance. It was the kind of day when the Delaware glistened like a sheet of gently rippling mossy green, in no particular rush to be anywhere else.

People of the ‘Gram, be warned. In Lambertville, you lose your mind.  Historic mansions and brick row houses straddle its tree-lined streets. The architecture is Victorian and Federal in style, at once so classic and lovely that you want to walk in and declare one of them to be yours from this day on. The small churches with their aged visage and stained glass windows evoke awe and even the cafés are housed in period properties along quiet bylanes.

I went batty inside the antique shops. At one, I lay my hands on a pair of gold, wire glass frames. They were delicate, prompting me to picture their former wearer as a twittering old lady with powdery, white hair. Then there were some tatty Bobbsey Twins numbers I grabbed greedily. The chatty woman at the till informed me that they were from an old estate she had been to. She also told the elderly man she was conversing with, “Like this young lady, this generation loves everything old. All these things I buy at auctions, especially books, they are snapped up.” At this point I butted in: “Umm, I am not really as young as you make me out to be.” The man nodded wisely here and said, “Best not to go there.”

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We continued to flit from store to store in a leisurely manner, by the end of which Adi flopped down at a bench outside a cheese boutique selling farm-fresh cheeses — and declared that he was Done. Oh, but were we? After nibbling on some sharp cheeses, we found a Turkish man selling Azerbaijanian, Kazakh and Turkish carpets and bags, and my sister-in-law was stoked by her finds. It was the perfect day for rummaging through interesting wares and cracking good bargains, and may I add, forgetting credit cards behind at aforementioned Turkish shops. Which meant a thunderous husband, and later, Turkish sweets from the man who returned the card to Adi. Here I have to slip in surreptitiously that I also forgot my phone at home. The suffering was all mine. All those photographs waiting to be clicked. Sob. Naturally I have to borrow them from Adi, but he is on a constant stream of calls, so I shall have to leave the beauty of the artist town of Lambertville to the workings of your pretty mind.

But before I leave, it would be amiss of me not to mention the old canal that runs alongside Lambertville’s old railway station. The canal that was laid out by thousands of Irish immigrants in the 19th century till a wave of cholera swept through town. Most of those poor labourers lie buried alongside this canal where people stroll or bike today on long, summery days. Odd to think of these stories that stay concealed behind the most serene facades.

I wish that this was all. For Adi was knackered. But why be satisfied with one bohemian town when there may be the promise of another lurking around the corner? In our case, right across the Delaware and the bridge sitting astride it, was the town of New Hope. Naturally, we were thrilled to bits. Two artist villages for the price of one. We had struck gold.

 

 

 

73 Comments

  • lexandneek

    Your wonderful descriptive sentences of your visit to lovely Lambertville created wonderful images in my mind. I could definitely imagine the beautiful historic mansions and houses in the area. My father-in-law loved to collected oriental rugs – he would have loved the store! I love the antique glasses and the cute little sheep in the background. Congrats on finding the books, quite rare to find these days. – Neek

    • dippydottygirl

      Thank you for indulging me, Neek. I shall put the photos up too by and by. I have to pester Adi, but do not want to mess with a grumpy Adi, so will wait.

      Your father-in-law would have loved the Turkish shop. It was straight out of one’s Silk Route dreams.

      I have been waltzing about today in those glasses and Adi has not been too impressed by my impersonation of one Mrs. Sullivan from beyond the grave. The sheep are from the heart of the Cotswolds and do pine for the country of their heart. But they are exploring new pastures.
      Thrilled with the books! 🙂 xx

  • equinoxio21

    The old lady was probably right about the young people and vintage. 😉
    I have another E-friend, lives in New York, name Mookerjee, ;), She loves the Victorian era. Who would have thought?
    Did you buy the book? (I would have)
    Take care ma’amji. Glad you popped up on my radar, I was beginning to wonder whether you’d dropped out.
    Oh! One more thing. I’ve read the Tagore and Arundhatiji texts. Wow.
    Tagore. He is not so well know in the west, but I may lay a hand on a copy this summer. I had my boxes stored at my brother’s but he’s leaving Paris, so everything is now stored in storage. I will forage with delight.
    I was very impressed by the account. Tagore seemed (my hasty interpretation) to focus on every tiny detail, making even the simplest of meals a feast. The mango poem made me think that. I need to read him to confirm.
    Arundhati Roy. That is a talented tough lady. The account she gives of modern day India, both in her book and the interview/speech is nothing short of frightening. Or am I reading her wrong?
    Now, indeed, take good care of yourself. And enjoy the coming summer and old towns.

    • dippydottygirl

      Mookerjee. Hmm. Another Bengali then. I am not surprised, but maybe I am biased?

      I have not disappeared fully yet. I am here. Summer has been about house guests. It has been a happy, busy time. Now I am ready to plunge back into routine till the next wave of guests.

      Of course Brianji, I bought those books. I could never be excused of resisting old books with foxed pages and musty odours. The first thing I do anywhere is flip books open and smell them. Book weirdo alert.

      I am happy you read those pieces. Tagore was eccentric. I had an inkling though not about the extent of his craziness. I have to confess here — Bengalis are a crazy lot, not always in the best sense possible. Tagore is a beautiful writer and there could not be any doubt about that. I wonder how he is in English. I have read one paranormal story of his in English (because I have read him otherwise in Bengali) and I could not continue with it because I was a wuss then. It was a short story called ‘The Hungry Stones’. In Bengali it is Khudito Pashan. Words have such power, you know not till you read writers who bring the force with them.

      Roy is raw and powerful. You read her just right, the way she meant you to read it. No meanings lost there.

      Cheers. You have a great beginning to summer too! 🙂

      • equinoxio21

        I knew (how?) Mookerjee was an Indian name. Didn’t know it was Bengali.
        Ah. Books. Such power. Such mystery. So many people long gone who’ve read those old books. (Book weirdo club).
        I suspect to read Tagore in English for a Bengali would be like reading García Marquez in French for me. But since I can’t read Bengali, if I find the book in English in my boxes… so be it. Khudito is hungry? Pashan is stones? Given his love for food, ‘hungry’ nust have been a bad word for him.
        Glad (and sad) I read Roy well.
        Alvida phir milenge. 😉

        • dippydottygirl

          Bengalis are everywhere you look. 🙂

          I am an ardent fan of the Book Weirdo Club (and I do like that epithet — has a certain ring to it).

          You put it well. About the strangeness of reading García Marquez in French! Expressions are so often lost in translation. But the fact that we try and read texts in other languages does enrich us any which way.

          You read the words correctly. Khudito must have been his watchword but what a nitpicking eater he was. I do empathise with his hapless wife!

          Phir Milenge, Brianji. 😀

          • equinoxio21

            Book Weirdo… How lovely. You were in Paris in December. Not the best season to roam the book boxes along the Seine. A treat I will do several times a week this summer. What treasures might I find?
            Translations? Yes. Any time. Otherwise Dostoïewsky, Tchekov, Gogol or Soljenytsin would have been lost on us.
            So pashan is stones. Good. Now I can claim I dabble in Bengali. 😉 (And yes, poor wife. I don’t suppose he ever cooked anything in his own life?)
            Phir milenge bilkul, arundhatiji.
            (Bon week-end)

          • dippydottygirl

            Aw I can only be envious of your strolls by the Seine and bantering with those bouquinistes. Some of them are quite surly though. They look like they could do with injections of laughter. 😛 One of my favourite things there is to stare at leaflets from old magazines — those which carry photos of fashionable women from erstwhile eras.
            I have not read Solzhenytsin yet. Shall look him up.

            You are a dab hand at Bengali, sir ji! 🙂 As for Rabindranath cooking anything, I doubt he would have looked kindly upon such speculations, for if you remember, those were different times. It was (and still is) a patriarchal society in India.

            Bon weekend, Brianji! 😀

          • equinoxio21

            I will send a thought to you as I tour the bouquinistes. Surly they are. Parisians most of them. So that is no surprise. But I know the way of the land and the comments – in Français – that stir them from their “ennui”. On top of it, many are my faithful suppliers of many years, so we chat a bit, I may or may not buy a book, or place an order, and I move on to the next box. Be good my dear.
            Phir milenge…

          • dippydottygirl

            I have to argue on the Parisians’ behalf. I have met such friendly ones that the bouquinistes are a happy exclusion in my book. And I really do not mind it. There has to be a degree of contrast or all of the rumours I have heard would go invalid.

            If it is ennui, I would understand. We are all afflicted by it, non?

          • equinoxio21

            Rumours are rumours. And there are sour people everywhere. I’m glad to finally “meet” someone who has a more balanced way of Parisians. I like them. They have a peculiar sense of humour but it’s fun to kick in gear. (Thinking of humour, I just remembered in the Ministry the building of room after room after room in the graveyard! If that is not humour, I don’t know what is.)

          • dippydottygirl

            That was some dark humour, yes! It was so wry for the most part that you would often be caught unaware in ‘The Ministry…’

          • equinoxio21

            And a last word on the bouquinistes. They are a dying breed. In a dying trade. Not many buy books any more. And they barely make ends meet. So some are a bit sour. My preferred suppliers aren’t. (Looking forward to the treasures I will find in those boxes…)
            Phir milenge, ma’amji.

          • equinoxio21

            I can’t complain. I’ve been taught never to whine. 🙂 I’ve had an easy and magical childhood. Worked hard. Won some lost some. Had my fair share of tragedies. The last one worse than any previous. But in that particular case all I can do is help my daughter overcome. She’s on the right path.
            So yes, life isn’t easy. But one thing I learned: whiners never make it. 😉

          • dippydottygirl

            Whatever little I have read of him, I do. 🙂 Drama queens and kings have my heart, when I am in the mood.

    • dippydottygirl

      Indeed it does. A notebook gifted by my sister-in-law and it is being filled up with great alacrity. It has such beautiful thick pages that my ink pen races over it with intense love.

      • equinoxio21

        You do love vintage. Though I still use a fountain pen (exclusively) I barely “write” any more. Except for scribbled to-do notes. Everything is typed now. I suspect you write with a quill?

        • dippydottygirl

          I adore vintage. A quill and I would feel at home together, but a fountain pen does the work for now. 😛 I love writing in my journals. There lies great therapy at no cost.

          • equinoxio21

            True. Writing, and with a good fountain pen (Been using my father’s Scheaffer for many years now, and it works smoothly) is great therapy. What fountain pen do you use? Lemme guess. A Parker?

          • dippydottygirl

            I use a regular old Pilot now. :-/ I lost the Parker on Etihad last December along with my journal. Curiously, they returned the Kindle that was in the bunch of things left behind, but clearly disposed off the rest. An old Scheaffer with your father’s touch … that is grand.

          • equinoxio21

            Sorry about the Parker. I remember you lost stuff then. Well. I’m sure you can find a gorgeous vintage pen in one of your next forays… What haunted ton will you visit this week-end.

          • dippydottygirl

            The idea is to go harooshing about, exploring all kinda exciting places, but my in-laws arrive soon and the plan is to travel with them too. Adi wants a breather before that. We shall be therefore be vegging out at home before the telly or wandering around the city.

            I am looking forward to replace the lost Parker. I would not mind a quill now!

          • equinoxio21

            How nice that your in-laws should come and visit. Distance can be sad, even with the modern equipment, skype et al. Is it the first time they visit you in the US?

          • dippydottygirl

            Their nth time actually. They have visited it more than I have for sure. My sister-in-law reached the country way before Adi and I did. They visit us every year. 🙂

          • equinoxio21

            Every year is nice. Makes “saudade” (longing for home) less strong. So your sister-in-law lives nearby? It’s good to have family close. In Paris we will now see at least one of my two brothers, and very old friends who have become family. Nice.

          • dippydottygirl

            I have a weakness for saudade. I heard it first used in Goa, and later in Portugal, of course. There is a world of soul in saudade.
            Enjoy your summer in Paris with family and friends like family, Brianji. Nothing like Europe in any season.

          • equinoxio21

            Indeed. Though Europe is better in the Summer. Remember, I’m a child of the Sindh!
            Of course, Goa! I’d never have thought of it. Saudade, whether in Goa, Lisboa, or Salvador da Bahía is ripe with soul.
            Saudade da India tem que ser forte. 😉

          • dippydottygirl

            I had to ask Google Translate for help on that last one. Liked what it threw up. 🙂

          • equinoxio21

            Saudade is a very powerful concept. Brazilians have written loads on that. Nostalgia or Nostalgie doesn’t quite cut it. It includes the light of the day, the noise at night, the colours of saris, your mother’s food, Rabindra sangeet, an Urdu poem, a song in Bengali… Or the murky waters of the Seine at the Pont de l’Archevêché. Phil mirenge ma’maji.

          • equinoxio21

            Not so familiar with Fado as I am with Brazilian music, but I “hear” what you mean.
            Zaroor milenge back. 😉
            (I checked the pronunciation, I was not too far)
            😉

          • dippydottygirl

            You might fall for Fado if you hear it. It is soulful enough to make your soul rise up by way of your throat. Even if you understand zilch Portuguese.

          • equinoxio21

            I thought I had replied, but picking up, WP says I didn’t… Well. handwriting is becoming “out”. Some places, countries States are even foregoing teaching children how to write. “Everything is done on a keyboard now, so why bother?” I even have a story in mind, based in the future where it will be illegal to handwrite. All will have to go through a keyboard so the State can monitor you…
            (What brand fountain do you use? A Parker?) 😉

          • dippydottygirl

            Brave New World! Is that what is happening indeed? Alarming. I would campaign against it if that every came to fruition.
            I use a Pilot now!

  • carolinehelbig

    OMG…the Bobbsey Twins! I just adored that series when I was a little girl. What a great find. It appears that you have quite a lot of interesting little places not far from home. Compared to what Mike would have been like on an excursion like this, I think Adi did well. I now leave him at home or deposit him at a brewery when it comes to artsy/antiquey browsing.

    • dippydottygirl

      When and if you are in NJ, let me know. We could do a Lambertville saunter and coffee. I mean everyone does NYC, right? I am so keen to explore more of these little towns near home.
      One odd fact about Adi though. He has developed a strange love for picking up big antique items. I have to tie his hands to stop him from going overboard. How the tide turns! But the next time, I shall consider that brewery. Sounds mighty good. 😉 xx

  • Sheree

    What a charming find! I could feel myself strolling along the sidewalks snd rummaging in the shops with you. My beloved could have kept Adi company, both on their mobiles!

  • Mad Hatters NYC

    Forgot your phone?! How does one survive that nowadays? 😉

    We’re also extremely bad about exploring New Jersey. I have to say, though, your descriptions were good enough to pique our interest sans photos!

    • dippydottygirl

      Imagine!!! I am an odd piece.

      I am suddenly enthused by this find to go out looking for more. Thank you Lynn, I think you guys would love these little places too. They are unexpected finds. xx

  • thewonderer86

    Loved your descriptions of Lambertville. I’m curious to see what it really looks like when you post the photos! (and if it’s anything like the picture I now have in my head).

    • dippydottygirl

      Merci Tracey! And I am curious to see what you have been upto since I absconded. 🙂 I shall be putting up the pictures soonest. xx

    • dippydottygirl

      Hey beauty, thank you for dropping by. I shall hop over to yours too. I have a feeling you might like the architectural styles that Lambvertville has to offer. xx

  • TheresaBarker

    So lovely to hear about your adventure! I read your missives with mouthwatering anticipation of the sustenance aspects of your excursions! sharp cheeses, sweets, etc. Happy to hear you were feeling more chipper. Hugs!

    • TheresaBarker

      … and I’ve been feeling up-and-down too…! Still doing my baby running program, though, and thinking of you from time to time when I run. Hope the June weather is good there. You deserve some sun!

    • dippydottygirl

      Aw…I bet you are having a good dose of sunshine at your end too, Theresa. Keep on with the running program, baby or adult. You know it makes you happy like it does me. I am waiting to unleash more on ya and reading about yours. Hope the weekend is treating you well as is it is me l.

Hit me up, buttercup

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