I grew up in a 1920 bungalow just outside Atlantic City. It was a lonely little street that overlooked the Atlantic City skyline. When I was little, it was a view of Haddon Hall, the Claridge, and Convention Hall. Later, it was a view of the Golden Nugget, Resorts and other glitzy casinos that sprouted up in the late 70s. The house was modest, and belonged to Nana, who with her husband had bought it in 1947, when my mother was still in high school. (So I lived in a Casa Nana in an earlier life.) My grandfather died in 1956, when my parents were still newlyweds, so they gave up their love nest and moved in with Nana so she could keep the house. In 1964, I was born. So growing up through the early 80s, it was Nana, Mom, Dad and me (and one bathroom) in our cozy bungalow, tastefully furnished with Hummel figurines, Wallace Nutting prints and painted antique furniture. Some of our neighbors had more flash: big console color televisions, a boat in the side yard, and two even had indoor pools, but to me, ours was the prettiest house on the block having never completely left 1947 behind.
The house was small for three generations, but what gave little me some breathing room was the lovely sun porch on the front of the house. It’s where I read, taught myself to draw comic strips on my grandfather’s huge oak desk, and played games. A blogger at heart before there were no blogs, I’d sit on the porch at that desk typing and sketching out stapled-together Archie-type comic books and Mad-type magazines. When it got too hot in my bedroom during the summer, I slept there with the jalousie windows open, praying for a breeze from the bay. Living there would have been impossible without the sun porch.
In the center of the porch, between the front door and the entry to the living room, was a little light fixture that I never gave much thought to, but always liked. In 2005, a few years after Nana died, and when Mom and Dad were ready to move, they took the light fixture with them. The house was built in 1920, but the lamp might have pre-dated it. Mom says the builder used recycled materials to construct the house; maybe that includes the fixture. Both the house and the lamp suggest the American Craftsman style. I’ll never really know.
In their new house, they never really found a place for it, though. It stayed packed in the crate all this time. Until Mom and Dad had the idea to make a contribution to Casa Nana (aside from their already generous contributions). Maybe the architect can integrate this light into the Mérida house. The black iron frame does sort of blend well with the local style. I was nervous about packing it and springing it on the architect, but on our most recent trip, we did just that. It was nestled in our carry-on luggage, wrapped in bubble wrap and we said a small prayer to the Patron Saint of Overhead Compartments not to let our lamp get crushed.
We didn’t unwrap it until we were in the architect’s office. To my relief they were very receptive to incorporating the light. To my even greater relief, the lamp, including four original glass panels, were unscathed. My little Reading Avenue lamp had made it to the Centro. It was a little strange to fathom. We even considered copying the lamp to make larger pendants for the center hallway, but later we found retail lighting that suited us fine.
Now Mom and Dad are in their mid- and late-80s, and one of the bathroom suites will be theirs. And guess what will illuminate the porthole window that connects their bath and the fish pond in the center courtyard? Nana’s light fixture.