Oh, Orlina, you have been loved, haven’t you?
I was drawn to this picture because I am so in love with old houses right now. I want one so bad! I am starting to look at them the way I once looked at good-looking men.
And she has a name to boot! How wonderful! We should all name our houses. She looks like an Orlina too. Something in the dark frames and striped awnings seems very Orlina-like!
Orlina looked so beautiful in 1915, I just had to see what she looked like today. 81 Luxton is also just a few blocks from where I grew up in the North End. I hadn’t been on that side of Main Street in nearly 20 years (yikes!), but I remembered the area fondly – the amazing “mansions” on Scotia Street, the creepy and magnificent Luxton School.
I have to confess though, as I drove around St John’s Park and cemetery, I felt myself bracing for Orlina’s possible deterioration. It is the North End after all. I love my old ‘hood, but of these once beautiful houses show the effects of age and abuse. I thought Orlina could have been mistreated, poorly kept, or worse of all fates – vinyl sided! I didn’t know what to expect. But, as I pulled up beside her, I was pleasantly surprised.
Oh Orlina, I thought, you have been loved, haven’t you?
Like a lovely elder, Orlina wears her age well. Her brick refinished, her stone banister in amazing shape, only her iron fence shows the slightest of bends.
This made me feel so happy, to know that she has been looked after. There are many like her, gorgeous old houses that have been loved and cherished. We don’t know their girlish names, but I bet somewhere in their woodwork they have one – a secret name that makes them feel pretty.
If I ever get one, I think I will call her Beth! (I hope she looks like a Beth...)
- Katherena Vermette
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Katherena Vermette is a Metis writer of poetry and fiction. Her work has appeared in several literary magazines and compilations, most recently Manitoapow: Stories from the Land of Water (Debwe Series). Vermette is a member of the Aboriginal Writers’ Collective of Manitoba, and currently completing her Master of Fine Arts (UBC). Her first collection of poetry is set for release in the fall of 2012 (The Muses’ Company).