As William Faulkner wrote in “Requiem For A Nun”, “The past is not dead. It’s not even the past.” But perhaps the past can, with will, imagination and love, be at least partly transformed.
My father’s appetite for what he was reading, and, doubtless, for the sound of his own mellifluous, slightly Southern voice, created in me the appetite for words that has provided the meaning of my life.
How extraordinary it seems that this artifact has survived while marriages, wives, husband, aunts, uncles and parents have all withered and passed into oblivion. It seems to me as much a monument to the past as the Lincoln Memorial or the Eiffel Tower, also great erections that long outlasted their makers, their funders and generations of their viewers.
How will I feel when I lift that dusty lid, and rustle through layers of tarnished tissue paper?
Now, before too long, another generation of young women will need to decide whether they want to compete with the Big House on a day that we all need to believe is one of the most important of our lives. No proof to the contrary seems to matter.
What she will do with that enormous house, which seems to me mired in the past, will surely be different from what my parents did with it in the 1940’s and 50’s, when its prime function was to serve as a weekend roost for drunken Derby guests, who terrified me with their antics.
I don’t usually call it the Bingham Estate but just the big house, which gives it the same moniker as SingSing; but when big news breaks, the big name seems appropriate.