It’s the Little Things

When I began working at Andalusia, uncovering the items stored in cabinets, armoires, and closets was a part of the intrigue. There was no telling what would be found next. I was particularly drawn to the cupboard under the stairs. While I knowingly was not going to find a young boy ready to burst with magic,[1] my love for another famous female author made me that much more curious.

Cupboards under stairwells generally have two purposes  – primarily functionality, to provide unseen storage, but also design. Adding framing, brackets, or a door gives the wall space a more finished look. Our cupboard is purely functional, the shelves installed with what appears to be available material not necessarily purchased for the construction. And it is hardly designed to enhance the aesthetic, as the small door, is one of six in an 11’x11’ room.

Exploring our particular cupboard was a challenge. It was quite full and its contents very diverse. It was obvious the boxes had been hastily packed to be cleaned out and organized shortly thereafter. Unbeknownst to the packer, that day would be decades later. Many of the items are what you might expect to find in a first floor closet of a home – old paint, empty canning jars, random tools, gift wrap, and an old iron.

What I didn’t expect to find were the contents of a kitchen cabinet, packed up and set aside with the assumption it would be sorted soon enough. Instead, in 2019, I discovered the case of homemade blackberry jam, dated 1956. There were full containers of spices dating from the late fifties to early sixties from brands like McCormick, who are still going strong and other long-forgotten companies like Ann Page.

Andalusia is renowned as the home of one of Georgia’s most famous authors, but as a museum, we are unique because the home was left untouched for so long. Our kitchen has trash bags and coffee cups. The bathroom medicine cabinet has toothbrushes and band-aids. Each item original, owned, and used by the O’Connors daily. When you come to Andalusia, you do not see reproductions or purchased items; you see what Flannery saw, what she used. From my perspective, as the curator, it is the little things that document her life here in an unassuming more personal way.

[1] J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, (New York: Scholastic Press, 1998).

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