6105 Abbott Avenue had only, one and three quarter bathrooms. A family of six, we four girls shared the ‘main’ bath. The infamous ‘pink shirt’ picture of the Mitchell girls:
When we moved to 6105, Wendy and I were in high school, Jennifer was in junior high and Pam attended elementary school. I never remember our bathroom door ever being closed.
Mother scrubbed its’ tan tile floor every Friday, and washed the rug. Two lightbulbs, hidden behind a frosted glass cover, hung above the mirrored medicine cabinet. Maybe that was all the light a room only 5 x 7 feet needed. The white porcelain sink wasn’t even a pedestal sink but a bowl attached to the wall, with no storage or shelving underneath. A bar of gold Dial soap sat in a silver metal dish screwed into the wall above the sink. The white bathtub might have had tile surrounding it at one time, or it had been replaced with a plastic insert.
The space would be ripe for an HGTV makeover today. Yet we were content with it. Even with four girls, I can’t remember the small medicine cabinet overflowing with bottles of beauty ointments, or any of the stereotypical fights with girls banging on the door, “It’s my turn! Get out!”
The one extra feature it had was a mysterious small oak door in the wall beside the toilet. Guests would always ask, “What’s that?” A clever builder designed the door for convenience. It was a laundry chute that led to a large wicker basket in the basement below, near the washer and dryer. All Mother’s grandchildren at one time or another used the chute as a toy. It was fun to open the door and make matchbox cars disappear.
That bathroom taught me, before I was married, a lesson about the rigors of married life. While on a family vacation in Ocean City, New Jersey, Dad had to fly back to Edina to work for a couple of weeks. He offered to wallpaper the bathroom for my mother. Unfortunately, he also picked out the wallpaper: a very 60’s looking turquoise and brown daisy pattern. When my mother got home and saw it, she was horrified. But, she never repapered that bathroom.
I learned another lesson there: take every opportunity to enrich your life. Mother wasn’t a professional musician, but she played the piano. Her baby grand sat in the living room.
She appreciated the beautiful things in life, and as a born teacher, found ways to instill a love for beauty in her children. When we lived at 6105, Mother loved taking us to the Edina library, a separate city library in those days. Besides books, they loaned out framed art prints for free, on a monthly basis. So Mother joyfully hung her choice for the month in that bathroom, over the laundry chute door.
I can’t remember any of those masterpieces now, but on occasion I’ll see a painting that I recognize from that bathroom classroom. Having no photo, memory has to paint the picture of that special place, down the hall, second door on the right.
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