It was never the couch; never the sofa. For Grandma, it was always the Davenport.
That Grandma called the multiperson upholstered seating apparatus the davenport had nothing to do with her Irish heritage, but everything to do with regional and generational influences. I am sure that many members of the Greatest Generation in the Midwest used the term, but Grandma was the only person I ever heard call it a davenport, so I have forever associated the word exclusively with Grandma, and thus, cozy comfort and love.
“Come on in and sit yourself down on the davenport.” was the invitation equivalent to Grandma’s hand smoothing the hair from my tear-soaked face or a boiled dinner she made with enough potatoes for an army. Grandma’s davenport was like a warm hug.
Here’s my grandma in the 1960s, sitting on the davenport. I am not sure it is her davenport – Mom will let us know. That lamp does not quite look like Grandma’s style.
Here’s a davenport full of family. Eileen Regan, Margaret McMahon Nelson, John Regan, and Agnes McMahon Regan at the Regan house on Tenth Avenue in South Minneapolis in the late 1950s.
One more group of Irish Americans on the Davenport, although “Cousins on the Couch” has a better ring. Tom McMahon, Carol and Betty McMahon, and Eileen Regan in 1962.
I have observed a few other prominent settings in my collection of family photographs, namely the dinner table, the sidewalk, and next to a car. Stay tuned…
UPDATES per Mom (2/22/2023):
- Photo #1 of Grandma was taken at the Roth family home. The Roths were members of Holy Name parish and they belonged to the parish book club, as did Agnes and John Regan.
- Photo #2 correction made – sitting next to Eileen is her aunt Margaret, not Rose.
- Mom thinks Photo #3 was her high school graduation party. She remembers the dress she was wearing: yellow with eyelet trim at the neck and sleeves. I didn’t ask, but I assume Grandma made it!