While watching a rerun of The Antiques Roadshow broadcasting from Tulsa, I got a message from my friend, Frances Walker Phipps. It was sent to me from infinity and beyond, but arrived just fine. No dropped call.
Frances was a reporter for several Connecticut newspapers, the antiques columnist for The New York Times Connecticut Weekly, the author of several definitive reference books on American antiques and colonial kitchens, and the founder of The Connecticut Antiques Show (1973), touted as one of the five most prestigious such events in the nation. Renown as a barracuda among a tribe of elite dealers who vied for the chance to earn a space in her much envied function, Frances determined what could, or could not be displayed on the show floor; what was, or was not an authentic antique. Her strict vetting of merchandise on preview night was surreptitiously referred to as the Phipps ‘reign of terror’.
The Tulsa Roadshow featured a woman who presented a folk art doll for discovery. I don’t own a folk art doll, but I do have a folk art cat that Frances gave me from her private collection of antiques dating from the 17th and 18th century, like most of the chairs, tables, cupboards, beds, books and decorations in her Haddam, Connecticut home. Hand stitched from swatches of forget-me-not floral broadcloth and twisted black yarn to form it’s Queen Anne stylized eyes, nose, mouth, whiskers, and outline of front legs with four toes, the coveted cat is in remarkable condition, even with the two small tears near it’s right eye, and drops of dried blood near it’s heart. I suspect the cat is older and rarer than the Roadshow doll appraised at fifteen hundred dollars.
The assessment made me smile — not for the price it garnered, but for what Frances said in my head:
Frances was once an attractive woman with thick, wavy hair, a bright smile, a great mind, and a fervor for the preservation of Colonial Americana.
But by the time we first met she’d matured into an unpretentious, stout woman with a big bust, a fierce wit, an untamed tongue, rumpled clothes, a bad wig pulled down like a wool cap onto her head, and a folded over Kleenex stuffed behind the right lens of her black horn-rimmed classes to hide a socket ravaged by a malignant tumor.
We were introduced by her ex, Midgie Donaldson, on opening night of the Connecticut Antiques Show in 1975 when I was the editor of a fledgling magazine, The Antiquarian, and she was the highly respected authority wielding power and influence over dealers selling to the rich and famous.
“So, you came here thinking I’d teach you all about antiques. Is that it?” she proposed.
“No-o,” I counterpointed. “But I heard you have an eye for it.”
We bonded instantaneously.

… and more


#     #     #

Seriously, Mom, you didn’t know?
by Marguerite Quantaine © Copyright 2019

Paperback & Kindle
Available on Amazon and in bookstores nationwide.

(If it skips ahead, just tap the left arrow.)


Marguerite Quantaine is an essayist and author.
Her novel, Imogene’s Eloise : Inspired by a true-love story
is available on AMAZON, in paperback and Kindle. Please choose LOOK INSIDE
For a free read of several chapters before buying.


    1. margueritequantaine Post author

      It’s just like you to take time to give me a gift on your birthday. Thanks for that, and for being such a fine FaceChum. It’s so-o good to still be here, and you are two of the reasons why.

    1. margueritequantaine Post author

      Thank you, Mercedes. I always look forward to your comments. Between my eyesight and my memory after surgery(s) it has proven a challenge, but I’m getting there. And, few activities quell anxiety like writing — preferably, well.

  1. Sunita Kripalani

    I’m so glad to see you back, MQ. Beautiful essay, like all the others. “Our existence evolves through exchanges…” How perfectly expressed! It was a pleasure reading it, and I enjoyed the ponderous wake it left. You are truly gifted, my friend.

    1. margueritequantaine Post author

      Good to BE back, Sunita, to both see — and feel — you here. If anyone ever asks me how one manages over an extended period without social media I will answer “poorly” at best. All my true friends reside cyberside. And by “true” I mean you, too.

  2. Sharon McCarty Brown

    My third attempt to comment and just say Thank You! I love your stories and your beautiful gift of writing and touching my heart and mind. You are incredible! Blessings and hugs,my friend.

  3. margueritequantaine Post author

    Back at ya, Maeve! I’ve been fortunate in oh-so many ways. This particular journey has indeed been challenging, but I’m getting better daily. Thank you for being in my corner. You’re very much appreciated.

  4. Maeve T

    I am so happy to see you again and think about you often. Your story about Frances and the rag cat made me cry…a beautiful story of Life and not wasting one precious moment. Love you, Marguerite!


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