Villie and MIllie Discovered

Villie and Millie

This daunting task of cataloging the artwork on the Craighead House kitchen walls gets more interesting all the time. This morning, Isabel Carpenter Masland, a frequent visitor to the house when she was a girl and the daughter of Don Carpenter, who wrote Memories of Craighead, the song about life in Craighead House in the first half of the 20th century, solved one of the mysteries related to the kitchen art. A pencil drawing of two women wearing aprons, one holding a dishpan and the other a pail, labeled, “Villie and Millie the Wash Up Twins,” had befuddled me for some time. I knew of no on family member or frequent visitor whose nickname would likely be Villie and the only possible Millie was Mervin Coyle’s wife, Mildred. The only problem was that Mildred’s grandchildren had never heard her called Millie. The sketch did look sort of like her.

Mrs. Masland was a young girl when this drawing appeared somewhere between 1938 and 1941. She didn’t see it drawn and doesn’t know for sure who drew it but suspects that it was Joseph House, Millie’s husband. Villie would have been Villa Stroh, whose husband Charles was a judge and lived in a mansion on Front Street in Harrisburg along the Susquehanna River. Gene and Myra Craighead lived in Harrisburg at the time and had a circle of friends who socialized together both in Harrisburg and at Craighead Station.

Isabel’s parents were part of that circle. She remembers the adults having parties at the house when she was young. She also remembers the ladies who prepared the food noting that they weren’t honored with a drawing or a painting. In the 70-plus years that have passed since then, no such drawing has appeared.

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