Thursday, September 7, 1967

Margaret Lynch stood at the stove in the tiny kitchen of her familyís apartment. †After stirring a skillet of scrambled eggs, she peeked into the oven to confirm the broiler pan full of crispy slices of bacon wasnít getting dried out.† Satisfied with the eggs, she turned off the gas under the skillet and popped four slices of bread into the toaster.†

Her husband, Ed, walked into the kitchen and leaned over to give her a kiss on the lips.† Margaret inhaled the spicy fragrance of his aftershave, and brushed an imaginary piece of fuzz from his starched white shirtfront.

"Ed, you look very handsome and distinguished," she told him with a fond smile.† "The bankers and lawyers will think you are used to this kind of thing."† She turned back to the toaster, which had popped up the four slices.† Buttering them swiftly and adding four more slices to the toaster, she spoke haltingly, as she faced away from her husband.† "I donít know what theyíll think of me, though.† Maybe I should just stay here with the children.† Iím just not sophisticated enough to meet people like that."†

"Well, Iím not sophisticated enough to meet them, either.† Iíll need you with me to give me courage.† Any man feels braver with a beautiful woman by his side."† He put an arm around her waist and tipped her chin up toward his own face.† "Why the tears?† Youíre a wonderful wife and mother, and a beautiful woman.† Thereís no one Iíd rather have at my side."† Ed hugged her and smiled as he brushed a tear from her cheek.†† Releasing his wife, he pulled a clean dish towel from the drawer and tucked it into the collar of his white dress shirt, and collected clean dishes from the cabinet to set the table for his family.

Margaret buttered the next four slices, turned off the oven, and set the platter of toast in the oven along with the bacon.

†"Ed, you know perfectly well Iím not beautiful.† Not any more.† Iím too fat, and my clothes and hair Ö Iím just not stylish enough."

"Margie-girl, first of all, you are just as beautiful to me as the day we married.† If anything, Iím responsible for your gaining weight, since that was all due to your carrying my children.† I donít look the same as I did when we were dating, either.† I hope you donít think less of me for it.† And just think, nowÖ after todayÖ youíll be able to buy the most fashionable clothes and have your hair done at the best salons Ė if thatís what you want."

Whatever remark Margaret might have been planning to make was forgotten, as two identical little black-haired boys ran into the kitchen in their pajamas.† The two stopped in confusion when they saw their father, dressed in a white shirt and dress slacks, setting the breakfast table.

"Daddy!† Why arenít you at work?" one of them cried.

"Are we going to church?" asked his brother.† He stared at his mother, still in her housedress, with her black hair in pincurls all over her head.† "Mama, youíre not ready for church!" he accused.

"No, boys, weíre not going to church today."† Ed laughed heartily at the confusion on his sonsí faces. "Mama and I have to go to some meetings today.† Mrs. Green is going to come over and stay with you and your little sisters while weíre gone."

"Sit down, boys, and let me get the girls in here.† No, Eddie, youíll get your shirt wrinkled if you carry the babies.† Just pour the juice.† Thatís why I havenít gotten dressed yet."

Margaret knocked on her daughtersí bedroom door before she entered the room.† Her oldest, Diana, was almost dressed for school, and had taken her fourteen-month-old twin sisters out of their crib and changed their diapers.† They were now standing next to the crib, looking very pleased with themselves.

"Look, Mummy!† The girls will walk for me," Diana told her mother.† "Come on, Margie! Come on, Barbie! Walk to Di-Di."† Kneeling on the floor, she held her hands out to them.† However, the babies had other ideas.† Seeing their mother, they began to fuss and dropped to their knees, crawling to meet her.†

Dianaís face was crestfallen.† "They did walk, Mummy, really they did!" she insisted.

"Itís OK, sweetie, I believe you."† Margaret grinned at her eleven-year-old daughter.† "Maybe theyíll show off for you this afternoon.† Hurry now, so you wonít be late for school."

"Mmmmm, I smell bacon and eggs!† Why are we having bacon and eggs for breakfast when itís not Sunday?" Diana looked puzzled.

"Your dad and I have to go meet with some people at the bank today.† He took a day off of work, so heís still here.† Hurry, now!"

 

*******

 

Ed drove Diana the few blocks to school.† When he returned, he supervised the younger children while Margaret donned her best navy blue two-piece dress Ė the one she had worn to church all summer Ė after struggling into a new girdle and stockings.††She applied a bit of makeup and her favorite lipstick, "Cherries in the Snow", before removing the pins from her hair and fluffing her black curls.

I suppose Iím ready, she thought.† Oh!† The idea of meeting all of those important people!† If only I had an education like EdÖ.

Carefully, she placed a navy blue pillbox hat with a wisp of veiling on her head and checked to see that her short white gloves were spotless.† She slipped her feet into a pair of black heels, picked up the small black handbag that was for church only, and turned before the narrow full-length wall mirror to check that her skirt was hanging straight.†† Black does go with everything, doesnít it?† I wish I had some navy shoes, but it would be silly for me to have so many different pairs of dress shoes when the kids need so many things, she thought.

"Margaret, honey, are you ready?† Mrs. Green is here."† Edís voice held a faint note of anxiety.

"Yes, dear.† Iím coming."† Margaret closed the door to her bedroom, and went to the living room to join her husband, who was now completely dressed in his charcoal gray suit and navy tie.† She noted a sheen of perspiration on his forehead, and realized that he must be nearly as nervous as she felt.

"Ed, you look like you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth!† Everything will be fine."† She smiled reassuringly at him.

 

*******

 

With practiced skill, Ed parallel-parked the Lynchesí white 1960 Buick LeSabre sedan in front of the Sleepyside National Bank.† He reached for his wifeís hand and smiled.

"Come on, Margie-girl.† This is where we start living the American dream."

Margaret stared at him, still anxious over meeting bankers and lawyers.††"Oh, Ed!† I donít know how to act like a rich person.† What if I make a fool of myself?"

"Well, we might be two fools together.† But I donít care, as long as I got you, babe."† Ed winked a bright blue eye at his wife and began to sing the popular song from a few years earlier:

I got flowers in the spring, I got you to wear my ring

Margaret joined in:

And when I'm sad, you're a clown
And if I get scared, you're always around
†So let them say your hair's too long
'Cause I don't care, with you I can't go wrong

Ed finished the verse:†

Then put your little hand in mine
There ain't no hill or mountain we can't climb.

"Come on, letís go climb that first mountain."† Ed got out of the car and hurried around to open the passenger door.

"Your voice is a lot better than Sonny Bonoís," his wife assured him.

"It should be.† All Irishmen are natural-born singers."

"Go on with you!"† She swatted his arm affectionately.

Ed held the heavy front door for her, and the couple entered the dim coolness of the bank.†Margaret saw Peter Belden at his teller window, and tugged at her husbandís arm to get his attention.† "Maybe Peter Belden can tell us who we need to see," she murmured.

"Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. Lynch," the handsome dark-haired teller said with a pleasant smile.† "How can I help you today?"

Ed cleared his throat, and Margaret squeezed his hand under the counter, out of Peterís sight.† "Actually, I wondered if we could meet with the bankís trust officer."† Ed had rehearsed this sentence many times in the past two days, but Margaret could tell he was still nervous.

"That would be Robert Whitfield," Peter replied with a smile.† He excused himself for a moment to see if Mr. Whitfield was available.† Ed and Margaret exchanged nervous glances.† Soon Peter returned and indicated they were to follow him to the trust officerís office on the second floor of the bank.

Robert Whitfield was a distinguished-looking middle-aged man who wore his thick, prematurely white hair in a style that reminded Margaret of an older Sean Connery.† Unable to contribute to the discussion of various investments and their tax consequences, she studied their host and his comfortable office, while half-listening to their conversation.

Everything about the room breathed sophistication, money, and understated power; from the imposing mahogany desk, to the comfortable black leather-upholstered chairs on which the Lynches sat, to the bright oriental rug, the handsome floor-to-ceiling shelves lined with books, and a portrait on the wall.† She wondered if the subject of the portrait was an ancestor of Mr. Whitfield.† A double window overlooked Sleepysideís main thoroughfare, and for the final touch, Mr. Whitfield had a large telephone on his desk, with more buttons on it than she had ever seen.

Ed will have an office like this in our houseÖ when we get it, she thought.†† She began to commit the roomís details to memory so that she could recreate it in their new home.†

When she heard Ed cough, Margaret forced herself to stop studying the office and looked at him for a clue to her next step.† Ed stood and reached over the desk to shake hands with Mr. Whitfield.† "Thank you, sir. So youíll have the trust papers drawn up and contact me when I need to sign.† And youíll claim my prize as soon as the trust is in place?"

"Thatís right," replied Mr. Whitfield.† "Iíd also suggest you consult George Rainsford, an attorney in the city who is an expert in estate law, and Guthrie Brown, the accountant, in order to manage the prize money for the best tax consequences and preservation of your estate.† As you have learned, the state of New York requires publication of the names of all lottery winners.† Itís easy to have the information published in the form of a small notice in the Public Records section of a local newspaper, and while not foolproof, it is a little more anonymous than having a big story with pictures splashed all over the front page of the New York Times."

"Thank you, Mr. Whitfield."† Margaret shook hands with their host and allowed him to open the door for her.† She and Ed left the bank.

Margaretís head was spinning by the time she and Ed arrived home.† Their visits to the attorney and accountant had overwhelmed her.††She had always managed the family checking account, but keeping track of a few hundred dollars was a lot easier than keeping track ofÖ a few million dollars!†

After Mrs. Green left, she turned to her husband and voiced her anxiety.† "Eddie, he said that after taxes weíd have nearly four and a quarter-million dollars!† What in the world will we do with money like that?† I feel dizzy just thinking about it!"

"Donít worry, Margie-girl.† Thatís what accountants are for.† Weíll need to buy a house, and I want to hire a nurse for the twins.† Youíve had to work too hard since the girls were born.† I want you to be able to take it easy.† Weíll have a maid, too."

"I know you said that Diana could take the after-school art class, but do you suppose she could have private art lessons, too?† And maybe piano lessons?"

"Absolutely!† I want our girl to have everything Ė the little ones, too.† I was afraid Iíd never be able to give them things like that Ė or put them through college.† I donít want our kids to struggle like we have had to.† Hereís what Iíd like to do:† Iíve been reading about all of the new electronic advances.† Do you know that there are ovens that work by microwave energy and can bake a cake in three minutes?† There are pocket-size computers Ė calculators Ė that can compute huge mathematical equations in seconds?† They'll make slide rules obsolete!† There is even a new machine that will allow you to watch movies at home Ė on your television!† Iím going to invest in some of that new technology.† I might start my own company later, but for now, Iíd like to study some of the companies that are manufacturing the new gadgets, and learn more about them.† The growth in technology is going to explode in the next fifteen years Ė and I want to be in on the ground floor."

Margaret was still astounded by the idea of baking a cake in three minutes.† "Ed, could I have one of those ovens Ė micro-something?† Baking a cake in three minutesÖ itís unbelievable!"

Ed took her hand and bowed before dancing her around the small living room.† "Anything you want, my darling!"†† His happy laughter loosened the tight band around her chest that Margaret sometimes felt when she considered how much this money might change their lives.† She laughed in return, helpless to resist his elation.

Just then, Diana came in from school.† The sight of her parents dancing around the living room, both still in their Sunday best, was such a novelty that she stood and stared.††Margaret gasped, "Stop, Ed!"† She was nearly breathless with the exertion, and she suddenly realized it would be very easy to twist an ankle and fall in her heels.

"Howís my girl?" boomed Ed, not troubling to keep his voice down, but stopping his energetic dance.† He lifted Diana up in the air as if she weighed no more than one of her younger siblings, before setting her back down and kissing her cheek.† He was panting for breath, too.

"Oh, Daddy, Iím fine.† Did you and Mummy get all of your meetings done today?"

"Yes, we did, sweetheart. Although Iíll be taking off a few days next week as well.† You and Mummy sit down, and Iíll tell you about what weíre going to do."

Margaret and her daughter sat down together on the old couch.† Ed sat, too, in his armchair.† "Now, Diana, your mother knows this already, but we won a lot of money on a lottery ticket the other night.† Quite a lot of money.† Today, I took off work so that we could meet with some people about investing and managing the money.† When everything is resolved, Iíll be leaving my job and looking for ways to use the money to help our family and other causes that are important to me.† Weíll be moving to a new house, probably in a few months.† But this information is for our family only.† Weíd rather not have everyone in town talking about us just yet."

"Weíre moving?† Where?" Diana looked surprised, but not quite as surprised as Margaret would have expected her to look.

"Yes, sweetie, as soon as we find the right house.† Daddy and I will be looking at some houses in the next couple of weeks.† Just think of it, youíll be able to have your own room!"

"Oh, wow!† Not that I mind sharingÖ but Margie and Barbie are going to be walking soon, and I know they will be getting into my things."† Diana smiled in anticipation of her own private space.

"Speaking of our younger daughters, I hear them now."† Ed rose and walked toward the girlsí room, with Diana at his heels.† She lifted her sisters out of the crib and instructed her father.

"Now, Daddy, why donít you change clothes while I change their diapers?† You donít want to get all wrinkly!† Then you and the kids can play horsie while I help Mummy with supper.† The boys will be up any minute, too."†

Margaret listened to the conversation between her husband and daughter.† Although she had felt anxious all day about doing the proper thing and acting as if she had always had money, she couldnít help smiling.† I have the best husband and the best children in the world!† Iím so glad that Ed wonít have to work so hard, and that weíll be able to give the children everything they need.† Diana has had to grow up too fast.† She needs to have fun and get involved in some activities of her own.

 

Thursday, September 28

Ed Lynch opened the car door for his wife, and the couple followed the real estate agent into their fifth house of the day.† I really hope this one will do, he thought.† There† arenít that many available houses in Sleepyside that are big enough for a large family and have quarters for staff, too.†† I know weíll have to make some alterations, but Iíd like to be moved before Christmas.† I donít want to build, either.† That will take too long, and we donít know enough to choose a suitable house plan for our needs.

The house was a handsome brick two-story, with a roofline featuring several gables, dormer windows, and a covered front entryway, as well as a three-car garage.† A semicircular drive in front of the house allowed guests to be dropped off just in front of the entrance.† The attractive landscaping was not overgrown.

"Now, this home has 8,500 square feet, and there is an apartment in one wing that is suited for staff quarters," the real estate agent was saying. "There are four bedrooms and three baths in the main wing of the second floor, as well as a master suite with its own bath on the first floor. †There is a formal living room and dining room which can seat up to 30 people, as well as a smaller dining room for family meals.† In addition to the living room, there is a study or office, and a den or family room.† Upstairs in the other wing are two large bedrooms which share a common bath and playroom or sitting area, depending on your needs.† This enclosed veranda is a wonderful feature, with a fireplace on each end.† It would be a great place for entertaining, and is connected to a gallery, which would be perfect for expanding the space for parties, or it could be closed off when not in use.† The previous owner used it to display a collection."

"Margaret, I think this house is made for us.† The two bedrooms connected by a playroom and bathroom will be great for the twins, and Diana can have her own suite.† I donít think we want to sleep away from the children, but the downstairs suite will be a nice guest quarters, and we could use it later when the kids are older."† Ed was excited.† With a minimal amount of interior work, paint, and carpeting, the house could be ready for them to move into within a couple of months. †

"Ed, itís just beautiful.† And it will be so wonderful to have a playroom for the little ones.† But where will we ever find the furniture to put in a place this big?"† Margaretís voice sounded doubtful.

"Oh, Mrs. Lynch, there are designers who will be glad to help you choose new furniture for all of your needs."† The agent smiled and pulled a card from his wallet which advertised "Interiors by Design", and listed the studioís address and telephone number.

"WellÖ it really does have every feature we wanted, Ed.† I love the big kitchen.† It even has room for one of those micro-ovens Ė a Radar-Range."† Ed noticed that his wifeís eyes sparkled as she mentioned the brand name of the microwave oven.† Sheís been doing some research of her own, he thought, giving her hand a squeeze.

"Itís a deal, then.† Weíre ready to make an offer, Bill.† Can you write up a contract and approach the seller?† If they accept, we can go ahead and schedule a closing."†

"The seller is out of the country, Ed, but he has an agent who is handling the sale.† Iíll call and see if we can meet with him next week."†

Driving home, Ed again squeezed Margaretís hand.† "Bill McKay was obviously struggling to conceal his joy at the thought of a fat commission, but I donít mindÖ itís great if there are others who can benefit by my good fortune!† Besides, weíre getting something we want Ė itís a win-win situation."

"Ed, you are the most wonderful man ever!† Father Healy was thrilled with your donation toward a new organ for the church."

"I just think that what goes around, comes around.† I donít plan to throw money away, but Iíd like to help make the world a better place with some of it."

 

Thursday, October 5

Interiors by Design read a small, tasteful sign next to the street-level door of a handsome Georgian building in the White Plains business district.† Ed and Margaret stood outside, gathering enough courage to ring the bell which would announce their presence to the reception desk.† †It was a pleasant Indian summer day, and they were both warm in their new lightweight wool suits.† Margaret pulled her black kid gloves off and crushed them in her fist, and Ed smoothed back his slightly thinning hair.† She pressed the doorbell, and they could hear the sound of chimes inside.† In a few seconds,the door opened to reveal a young woman whose blonde hair was pulled tightly back from her face in a chignon, and whose black minidress was the ultimate in severe chic.

"Mr. and Mrs.† Lynch?" she asked in a low, modulated tone.

"Yes.† We have an appointment."† Margaretís voice did not reveal the nervousness she felt.† Iíve never even seen an interior designer before.† Iím afraid she Ė or is it a he? Ė will think Iím veryÖ unsophisticated.† Maybe I am!† †I want to have the house looking nice so that Ed can bring business associates over, or we can entertain.† I donít want it to be tacky.

"Iíll let Miss Allenton know that youíre here.† Please sit down and make yourselves comfortable."†

A few moments later the silence was broken.† "Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Lynch.† Iím Christine Allenton.† What can I do for you?"†† The middle-aged woman was dressed even more severely than the receptionist, except that she wore a bright silk scarf at the neckline of her black dress.† Black hose and chunky black heels completed her mod look.

"Weíre buying a new home, and we need some help in choosing furniture, as well as paint, carpeting, and draperies. Weíve never had such a large place, and we need all new things.† Bill McKay gave us your name."† Margaret hoped that she didnít sound as if she had never been in a design studio before.

"Billís an old friend of mine.† Heís right, I can help you with all of those things, and help you to create the look youíre after.† Letís sit down, and you tell me about the house."†

 

Tuesday, October 10

"Eddie!† What in the world is this invitation from George Rainsford about?"† Margaret Lynchís voice was high with surprise.† She waved the invitation in her husbandís face.

"Let me see it, Margie-girl."† Ed, who had just come in the door of the apartment, appeared puzzled at the question, but after scanning the invitation in question, his face cleared.† "Rainsford is hosting a show for a young portrait artist, James Cantor.† He is inviting some of his clients to see the manís work.† Some paintings will be for sale, and Cantor will take commissions.† The show will expose his work and introduce him to people who may become his patrons."†

Margaret was thoughtful. "You know, the new house has that gallery room.† Christine wants us to buy some good artwork to display; she says art is a good investment as well as a decorating accent.† So this might be a good way to begin to collect some art."†

"If we like the artistís work, maybe we could commission him to paint a family portrait.† We could even ask him to do portraits of our parents, working from photographs. †My parents live too far to travel for a sitting, and since your parents arenít living, it would be a neat thing for the kids to see what their grandparents looked like."

"Ed, thatís a wonderful idea!"† Margaret was starting to feel excited.† "I do have a couple of old photos of my parents.† Theyíre in black and white, but maybe it could be done!"†

That night, as she was getting ready for bed, Margaret began to have forebodings about attending the art show.† Itís fine for Ed Ė he's almost finished his college degree and he is so smart, anyway.† Not to mention, he meets so many people every day that he can talk to anyone!† I was always just average in school, and Iíve never been farther than White Plains.† I donít know anything about art, I hate being in crowds of strangers and I never know how to speak to people I donít know.

"Ed, do you know who any of the other guests will be?" she asked her husband, who was preparing notes for his meeting the next day with the accountant who was helping him choose some investments.

"Oh, I think Rainsford told me Matthew Wheeler and his wife, Madeleine, will be there, along with Richard Whitney and his wife, Patricia, and George and Nancy Kimball, too."

"Iím so nervous about meeting those rich society women!† Iíve seen Madeleine Wheelerís picture in the newspaper and she always looks so perfect!"

"Sheís supposed to be rather delicate, but she travels with her husband all the time.† She is fluent in several languages, and she acts as an interpreter for him when needed."

"You talk like you know Matthew Wheeler.† Have you met him?"

"I guess itís just because Rainsford has been encouraging me to buy in to a project Wheeler is putting together.† I am supposed to meet with him tomorrow, so Iíve been doing a little research on him and his company."

"I wish I knew more about art and this artist.† Then I would feel as if I could hold a conversation.† Thereís just no way I can get to the library and research anything, with the kids.† Mrs. Green doesnít really like sitting for so many small children.† She was worn out the last time she watched them for us and said she couldnít do it again."

"Margaret, honey, why donít we see if Maureen Delanoy can watch the little ones after school?† Then you could go and spend a couple of hours at the library before it closes."

"Oh, Ed, thatís a good idea!† Maureen is sixteen, so Iím sure she needs some extra spending money.† Her brother Tommy is certainly a hard worker.† Maureen told me that she enjoys babysitting, and sheís had some practice with her own brothers and sisters. Iíll call Mrs. Delanoy tomorrow."

"If she can do it, why donít you ask her to come every day for a week?† That way, you wonít feel rushed.† I think Cantor has had a write-up in the New York Times within the last six months.† You might even be able to learn about his student work.† If Maureen works out, you can set up with her to come on a Saturday and you and Diana can go into the city with me and do some shopping.† The show isnít until the twenty-eighth of the month, so you have some time."

"That sounds like a perfect idea, Ed.† Iíll definitely need something new to wear to a fancy party like that.† And itís only two and a half weeks away!"

 

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