At Work and at Rest

My grandfather, Ralph Eggelhof, was a sales rep for a local manufacturing company for most of his adult life. He worked at home in a large office at the back of the house. He sat at a big 1950s-style steel desk with a swivel chair. My family had moved away from Indiana, so he had retired by the time I remember spending time with him on a regular basis. All of my memories of him are of a delightfully grumpy man who loved to watch golf and Angie Dickinson (he loved the Police Woman series). His favorite joke was to guess every present we gave him, regardless of how it was shaped or wrapped, was a loaf of bread--except the one time we gave him a loaf of bread as a gift, he guessed it was a coffee mug. We were so disappointed. 

My other favorite memory is his teaching me how to play gin dummy. He was an avid card player and part of a bridge team for as long as I could remember. I asked him to teach me so he made us an afternoon snack of peanut butter on Ritz crackers, pulled out a deck of cards, and started to teach me the game. Now, most of you will realize the game should be called gin rummy, but he's a grandpa and though he was funny. He also knew that I was very young and wouldn't understand all of the rules, so he handed me a bunch of cards, told me to draw from the pile, taught me to discard, and then on his turn he would magically win every hand and delightedly hollar "gin dummy!" as he lay down what I now realize were completely useless cards. After each hand, I'd get a new cracker, lick off the peanut butter, and demand we play again. Eventually, he just spread peanut butter on my hands and saved all the crackers for himself.

This is the man who made the dollhouse for his girls and I'm sure he would be pleased that it has already lasted 3 generations and will be saved for the next one. 

I put both the office (work) and the music room (rest) together in this article because there isn't a lot of craftwork in these rooms: most of the furniture and accessories are purchased though I made a few things (e.g., the "mason" jars on the fireplace, the pillows, and a couple of other knick-knacks), but these two rooms have the most sentimental value to me. 

Front and center in the music room is a big red leather chair. The same chair that grandpa sat in while he watched TV and the same chair that sat first in my daughter's room as a comfy reading chair, but now sits in my sister's office right by the front door where we can all see it as we come for a visit.

Thoughout the music room, the instruments and artwork represent instruments that each member of my family play. My aunt played piano and cello. My mother played the clarinet and the french horn. I played the flute. My oldest nephew played tuba and trombone; my daughter also played brass instruments. My nephew, Brandon, has a keyboard. My mother found all of these pieces online.

In the office, the accessories are all associated with my youngest sister, Melissa. She and her husband got engaged in Paris, at the Eiffel Tower, and lived in London before moving back home to settle in New York. The artwork and accessories in this room are reflective of all of those places. There's a double-decker bus, a royal carriage, and a sign with New York street names.

In the back corner of the room is a hurricane lamp made by my aunt when the dollhouse was given its first rehab for my sisters and me. It survived all of these years and still resides in the house. 



  1. Wow! This is such a meaningful project! Your stories about your grandfather brought tears to my eyes. While I never knew either of my grandfathers, my children adored theirs and the type of pseudo grumpy. total silliness you describe brought back so many memories of my own father and father-in-law. Thank you so much for sharing this amazingly personal space. - Marilyn D., New Brunswick, Canada

  2. I love the big red chair and ottoman!

  3. What is it with that generation and being grumpy? Well at least we all knew it was just a facade, because their actions were loving ones. :0)
    The memories and this dollhouse are such meaningful treasures, and it must be a joy to work while you reminisce. The office/music room is lovely!


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