Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Cottage

We all like to believe we are part of history.  Hardly a day goes by that I do not receive some email nostalgia forcing me to recollect fender skirts, clothes lines, hula hoops or some hardly-remembered actor or entertainment celebrity.  What I prefer is the history that sneaks up on you; a part of your life that you hardly thought of until it’s gone.

That’s what I felt when The Cottage closed the first of the year.

The Cottage was a Laguna Beach restaurant that we frequented a few times a year over the last thirty or so years; always at brunch, and usually with at least eight family members, often including relatives from Wisconsin.  The attraction was not only the food, the reasonable cost, or the fact that a reservation meant you were seated pretty close to when you expected.  Nor was it ease in arrival, since there was no valet parking and the neighborhood parking access was almost non-existent.

Mary's Home
The attraction was the house, described as a California Bungalow and eerily reminiscent of Mary’s home in Janesville, Wisconsin.

We laughed at how we would identify that we were received on what was the front porch and seated at various times in the sewing room, mother’s bedroom, the TV room or almost anywhere except the kitchen, which was being used as, duh!, the kitchen.

We probably had our first brunch early when we moved to the area in 1976 but didn’t become aware of why it was so similar to Mary’s home until 2002 when Rosemary Fuller Thornton wrote the first of several books describing how Sears Roebuck sold “easily assembled” homes between 1908 and 1940. In all, she mentioned more than 75,000 houses were sold, each having more than 10,000 pieces and each uniquely identified by a serial number somewhere in the basement.

We went looking for the serial number in Janesville, but reconstruction of the basement since its original construction somehow got rid of the number.  However, there was no doubt that it was a Sears bungalow.

After Mother Kelley moved out of the house, it was sold to a nice, young couple who were into antiques.  On one of our return trips to Janesville, Mary and I stopped by to meet them and see what they had done to the house.  Very little it turned out and the rooms had an oddly familiar feeling to them.

Except that things were in the wrong place.  The sewing machine, for instance, which they used for a table, was in the dining room instead of the sewing room.  And the Cedar chest, which was at the foot of Mother Kelley’s bed, was being used as a coffee table in the living room.  We avoided telling the new owners of their mistake, but the topic is one we regularly share with family.

We have already identified several very nice places to go on Easter, Mother’s Day and the like.  But as we dine there, we are likely to remember that on our last visit to The Cottage, with our children and grandchildren, we were allowed to sit in the Dining Room for the first time.

Only fitting!

In my next Post I’ll explain why a late Christmas gift from Mary was special.  I hope you’ll stop by.


  1. Great post, Dee! I wonder what year the picture of the house in Janesville was taken?

  2. Mary thinks about 1950. Glad you liked the post.