The Attic

“The magic and the mystery which are the special prerogative of childhood had a far better setting in the attic of bygone years than in the modern nursery. The up to date nursery may be a charming place for nannies: everything unbreakable, washable, no sharp corners to “watch”. But the bored expression on the faces of some of the small occupants speaks for itself; I was one of a little crowd who played in an attic, and we were never bored. The attic taught us to make the best and the most of things as we found them. Inventive and creative faculties were stimulated to activity at an early age.

Carnivorous cupboards and odd corners became, in turn, lions dens; magic caves; shops; robber strongholds; or miniature homes, were babies rocked to sleep and kissed and cuddled in the good old way.  Fashions changed quickly in the old attic:  but whether the game of the moment was associated with caves or cradles, we played it wholeheartedly, and – unlike some modern writers – we always saw to it that right triumphed in the end!

The attic developed individuality – personality. We played up there, secure from the hampering restraint of grown up company. We knew the joys of freedom. Therefore we were our natural selves.

In the attic we learned to be careful, for around us were things which must not be broken because they belonged to our Grandmother, or some more remote ancestor. (The child reared in the “unbreakable” nursery is not so trained)

What memories are stirred today by the sight of two old colour prints in brother Roberts collection! They used to be part of the “scenery” when we got up to play; and what fine banquets we have served on the old pewter plate that now adorns my sideboard!

From whence will come the antiques of future generations? The attic, which gave us so many of ours, is passing away!

Let those who doubt the good influence of the attic on the minds and hearts of children, read the words of Jane and Ann Taylor. They were written in an attic! Let them read also Louise M. Alcott’s Little Women, which gives us one of the most faithful and most charming pen-pictures of the attic-nursery that has ever been written.

It is said that the literary adventures of the loveable and delightful Jo March are really pages culled from the authors own girlhood.

O for more attic literature! Clean and sweet and wholesome! Like the fine old unvarnished oak of the attic rafters, it will live on – beautifully – usefully- long after much of the garnish, cellulose finished modern literature has become forgotten as a dream!”

Patricia Rowe, 1930


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  1. oh, to remember the days I spent in the attic of my youth. I don’t so much remember playing there but I did spend lots of rainy days there in the solitude of “the only daughterhood”. I would find those boxes which held the dishes my mother had received as wedding presents. They were not the “everyday” kind of dishes used by a family with 4 children. They were “crystal” tea plates with a well for the tea cup and space for the tea sandwiches. They were vases decorated with hand painted bouquets edged in gold. There were tablecloths with embroidered designs far too beautiful to get spaghettios on. These were treasures to me and I’d take them out and repack them with great care. I have an attic today but I don’t think any little girl would find the same treasures as I did. Hummm, maybe I’d better rearrange some of my things and invite my 4 granddaughters to spend a rainy day in my attic.