A Registered Chapter of the Red Hat Society

Linda, Duchess of Carousels

Hi, I’m Linda, Duchess of Carousels. I chose this title because of my love of all things carousels. I have a huge collection of carousel figurines, jewelry, china, and a multitude of items with or about carousels. I began collecting carousel horses around 1979. I remember purchasing a ceramic merry-go-round for the nursery when I was pregnant with my son, Christopher. Unfortunately, this one got broken and I had thrown it away. I know the second carousel figurine I purchased was on a shopping trip with my Mother. I still have that figurine in my curio cabinet in my living room…. the “carousel room” as my husband refers to it. I am also in the process of converting old children’s rocking horses into carousels. I have four old horses to work on. I am nearing completion on my first project, which I am doing in Pink and Lavender, since I am currently a pink hatter.

I was born in East Chicago, Indiana. I was a very imaginative and creative child. Always playing dress-up, creating paper dolls, making up dance routines to records I’d play on my record player, and singing my own songs I’d make up as I went along. I have two older brothers who are 9 and 10 years older than myself. So, it was almost like being an only child. My brothers did have a lot of friends over for parties and dancing. I think that’s where I picked up my love of music and dancing. I still have a lot of those old 60’s albums that belonged to my brothers. My dad worked at Inland Steel and my mother was a homemaker. I can remember the women in the neighborhood getting together for coffee in the mornings when the older children had left for school. My friends and our families were all very close. We always had some family over for dinner on Sunday. We’d have a big meal with everyone around the huge dining room table. It seems that most of the time there’d be fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Though there were some hard times, the neighborhood friends all stuck by each other. I cherish the memories of all the gatherings of family and friends, and I wonder what has become of those childhood friends.

We moved to Columbus, Ohio when I was 13 years old. My parents wanted to be closer to family. My Dad’s brother lived in Columbus and my Mom’s family lived in Portsmouth, Ohio. I really got to use a lot of my creativity during those early teen years. My Dad worked for a wholesale wall covering company and my uncle had a drapery store. My cousin, Kim and I would spend the nights together on the weekends. We would make purses and vests out of wall covering. We’d also made clothes out of drapery samples. So, looks like we had the idea even before Gone With the Wind. I even wore some of our creations to the school dances. The kids always complimented me on them and wanted to know where I had bought them.

I’ve been married to my husband, Doug for 26 years. We met at a nightclub where we both had come to see a mutual friend sing. My friend pointed out to me that this man was staring at me all night. His best friend asked me to dance and told me of Doug’s interest, but that he was a little afraid to ask me to dance. Turns out it was his first night out without his back brace. He had broken his back skydiving. So I asked him if he wanted to play some pinball, which we did. He then asked me to dance. We all went out for breakfast afterwards. I gave him my phone number and a kiss on the cheek as my Mom and I got in my car to go home. My Mom turned around and saw Doug jump on the back of a pickup truck. She laughed and said I must have really made him happy. We had our first date the following week, and it was love at first sight. Turns out we had been hanging out at the same nightclubs, and he had his eyes on me for several weeks. Funny how you end up finding your “true” love.

Having mentioned my Mom being with me the night Doug and I met… we were very, very close. My Mom and I did everything together, including going dancing with all her friends from her work at Mt. Carmel East Hospital. We all had such fun, and they were all such great friends to her. There were 3 clubs we all went to almost every Friday and Saturday night and “our” tables were never taken. It’s like everyone who went there knew our group sat at those particular tables. We all had so much fun and I cherish those times I had with my Mother.

My parents had divorced after I graduated high school. I lost my Dad to pancreatic cancer in 1989. That was a hard time and especially remembering the night I had the urge to go back to the hospital. When my Mom and I arrived my Dad was having trouble breathing. I whispered in his ear “your little girl is here”. He calmed down and passed away a few minutes later. My uncle said he believes my Dad was fighting to hold on until I got to him.

When my Mom retired from the hospital Doug and I asked her to move in with us. That way she wouldn’t have to worry about rent, utilities and other bills. A year later she was going to move into a retirement community. We decided to buy a house and asked her to just stay with us and take care of Chris before and after school. So Mom lived with us for 10 years before she passed from lung cancer in 1993. She wanted to be at home, and I worked very hard to give her that. Losing her has been the hardest thing in my life. She was my pillar, my best friend, and my heart and soul. I had to take some time off work to care for her towards the end. We had hospice come to the house. Her last night I had spent the night in her room playing gospel music and singing to her. I told her it was OK if she wanted to go be with her Mother. That I would be OK, and that I loved her with all of my heart. At 7:45 the next morning while I was lying next to her, she made a small gasp and passed away. It had actually taken me 10 years to even regain any interest in my old hobbies. I had just lost my spirit. I am now slowly gaining that back in part because of the new friends I am making in the Victorian Bouquets.

We have one child, Chris, who is 24 years of age. During my son’s growing up years I devoted a lot of time to his activities, little league baseball, cub scouts, marching band, jazz band, and even his heavy metal bands, two of which still practice in our basement. He has even traveled with a band on a tour in Poland. I was a little afraid about him going, but knew it would be a once in a lifetime experience for him. He enjoyed himself, but found out that the “glamour” life of a rock star is really hard work. He has a wonderful fiancé, Nancy. She is such a sweet person and we couldn’t be happier for them. I’m looking forward to the wedding, which is planned for the fall.

I was a Den leader for Chris’ cub scouts, and all though it was a lot of work, I really enjoyed all the projects and camping, etc. that we did with the boys. I viewed it as a time for making great memories for my son and his friends. The best compliment I ever received was when a parent told me that his son said I was the best Den leader. He said they learned what they needed to learn, but I did it in a way that allowed them to have fun and still be kids. I was always proud of the boys and I think of them often. They are now young men with a lifetime ahead of them. And, hopefully, a lot of happy memories from their times in cub scouts.

I have a black standard poodle mix named Sheba. I enjoy taking her to the park for walks. She’s just a sweetheart who loves everyone. We got Sheba the day after I had to have Lady, my miniature poodle-mix, put down due to cancer. I was devastated and it was even harder because my Mom had gotten her for me. That’s why I refer to Sheba as “my little heart saver”. I was so heartbroken, and Sheba helped heal my broken heart. I also have an orange tabby cat named Sebastian. He came running into our house 8 years ago during a freezing snowy day. Someone had abandoned him and he was so skinny and cold. He went right up to Sheba and started rubbing all over her. He then went to her dog bowl and started eating some of her dog food. So we accepted him into our lives…. or should I say he accepted us into his. These are my four legged children and I appreciate having them in my life. They give me such companionship and joy.

In addition to my carousels I like to crochet and try my hand at a variety of crafts. I took a stained glass class, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. I really love it, but it’s hard to find the time to work on my crafts. I hope to get back to it more seriously once I have my carousel horse out of my craft room freeing up the much needed space. I’m also looking forward to Spring and working in the gardens. I have a large Herb garden. I enjoy picking and using the herbs. I just love all the fragrances.

March 2005 Flower of the Month