Friday, June 22, 2012

The Marshall House

The Marshall House
What I do on weekends is serve as a docent at the Marshall House, which is the childhood home of James Wilson Marshall, the first person to discover gold in California. The house is a museum now. People stop in, tourists and locals too, between one and four on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. When they show up I say, "Welcome to the Marshall House," and spin stories about Mr. Marshall, the gold rush, the house, which was used as a convent for many years by St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, and the valiant Mrs. Alice Narducci, who saved it from destruction when the church had no more use for it.

On days when nobody stops in I go mad with boredom.

The Parlor
"I'm glad you came by," I said to a young girl and her father on Sunday. "I was going mad with boredom." In fact I had gone so far as to boot up the Historical Society computer and play a couple of games of spider solitaire. Before that I swept the plaster crumbs out of the hall where the water is getting in through the bricks and rotting it out, and before that I read some of the Historical Society's books on local history, and before that I took a picture of the parlor.

As they were getting ready to leave the girl said, "You're English, aren't you?"

"Nope. I'm American. I was born in Philadelphia."

"But you speak as if you were English. 'Mad with boredom.'"

"Ah. That. I'm a writer," I said.

It seems to explain a lot when I tell people I'm a writer. I can get away with all kinds of things.

Kate Gallison


  1. Kate, I thoroughly enjoyed this blog and now I know what the M. House is!! Astute and entertaining - what secrets that house hides!!! thelma

  2. Kate, I love the story and the pink parlor. Can you amuse yourself by practicing on the spinet?

  3. Alas, the spinet needs fifty thousand dollars worth of work, minimum, before it can be called a musical instrument. It is on loan from the birthplace of Grover Cleveland, in Caldwell, NJ, also a state museum. They say he had it in the white house. But the innards are so badly warped that striking a key not only sounds a sour note, but two or three sour notes. You see I have tried.
    The minute we take up a collection and get it in shape a truck will arrive from Caldwell to take it back.