From the Library: Mad for Mad Men, the Garden in 1966

Sunday night, The New York Botanical Garden got a brief mention on AMC‘s hit TV show ‘Mad Men.’ The episode–full of more twists and turns than the Floral Flyer‘s route–was set in 1966. This got us to thinking: What was the Garden like in 1966? We did a little research and learned that in 1966 (on April 19, three-days from today!), the Stone Mill–then known as the Lorillard Snuff Mill–was designated a New York City landmark. But we couldn’t find more, so we turned to the archivists of the Garden’s LuEsther T. Mertz Library, who, in surprisingly short time, uncovered a treasure trove of images that look as if they had been stills pulled from un-aired scenes of this dark and addicting drama.

Bonsai Instruction

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Home Trends: The Disappearing Dining Room

In my first several apartments, I never had a formal dining room. Instead, I had a kitchen/eating area and that was fine, when it was just my wife and me. The home we live in now does have a formal dining room, and with three kids, it definitely came in handy.

For many families, the dining room is a disappearing concept, often replaced with more usable space. People are having fewer major family get-togethers and are instead focusing on camming via the Internet and e-mail. We live in a global marketplace, and people are no longer staying near the places where they grew up.

The idea of the family dinner is also becoming an outdated concept as we fall into the hustle and bustle of the modern world. Parents are working later, and children are involved with school activities that keep them out until all hours of the night. Many people find it easier to just grab a bite on the way out or to take the food to the living room, where they can catch the latest episode of “House” before picking up their daughter or son from practice.

The dining room isn’t a traditional usable space like a kitchen. It’s simply an area to eat your meals, and other than that, it’s not used unless you need to do some kind of project for your child’s school. A dining room table always comes in handy for that. Many home designers are foregoing the dining room for a more utilitarian space.

What was once the dining room is now a reading room where the family can gather for game night and other functions. It’s a place where mom and her friend can visit while the kids play X-box in the living room. The tight economy has people wanting to get the most out of every penny and every inch of space, and that means saying goodbye to the large dining room table.

It’s a trend that I’ve seen evolving for several years, and it will probably continue until the economy recovers and people feel good about excess again. As for me, I plan on keeping my dining room for a while. My kids are still young enough that they don’t have a million things to go to, and we try to have all meals at the dinner table. It doesn’t always work that way, but we try.

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Furnace Problems: Handling Freeze in the Winter

Just after I wrote an article about keeping your furnace in top shape for winter, I find myself sitting in my living room typing away with frozen fingers.

Yesterday, as my wife and I began watching an episode of “No Ordinary Family” on, I heard a strange sound coming from the vent. It was kind of like a “thunk,” followed by a smell like something was burning.

Yep, after living in this house for five years, the furnace gave out. Not only did it give out, but it gave out during a winter blizzard. The first thing that goes through your head is panic. I knew the temperature was going to drop rapidly, and my only thought was to getting my wife and children to some place safe.

I began calling up hotels and seeing how much it would cost to get a room for the night. I am a writer, so cost was a definite concern, especially considering the fact that I didn’t know how long it would take to get everything fixed.

I found a hotel, checked my family in and prepared to calling the landlord to see about getting the things fixed and me back in my home. So here I sit in my 37-degree home waiting for the heating and cooling people to get here and fix my furnace. Sitting in a freezing home, typing away, is not how I would like to spend an afternoon, but at least I know it will be fixed. Hopefully, it will be today, so I can get my family out of the hotel and back in our home.

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