Saving Sally: A Noble’s Pond Design Studio Story

Inspired by the experiences of Noble’s Pond residents

Sally Scheck was giddy with excitement. She and her sister, Lily, were headed to the Metropolitan Opera House for the latest rendition of La Bohème. Wrapped in fur-trimmed coats, the young ladies proudly produced two tickets and 35 cents in exchange for admittance and the evening’s libretto. Though familiar with the story, Sally thumbed through all four acts, noting names of tenors and sopranos in the margins. She traced the lines with finger, guiding herself through the Italian and English text. She was committing the night to memory.

Sally and her sister attended many operas together until life pulled them in different directions. Even after marrying and raising four children away from the city, in Buffalo, Sally kept every performance’s program. Flipping through them brought back a flood of memories. She could almost hear the music like an ode to once upon a time when sisters, on the cusp of adulthood, sat in the balcony imaging what it would be like to experience true love; albeit hoping to fare better than La Bohème’s Rodolfo and Mimi.

In her own home, she displayed her playbill collection on shelves in the living room. After moving, the booklets were relegated to a trunk in the bedroom, and finally were boxed up for storage in the garage. And when Sally’s own curtain closed, the stories of opera-going nights seemed to die with her. It wasn’t until years later when my dad called us home to go through her things that the box was opened.

“Your mom held on to these for a reason. She would want one of you to have them,” my dad said with gentle direction.

On the surface they didn’t look like much. They weren’t jewelry, furniture, or one of her hand-sewn quilts. They had a musty smell and the pages were worn at the seams. But they were my mom’s and that made them valuable. I took all the playbills – Romeo and Juliet, La Traviata, Aida, La Bohème – and brought them home with me.

I wasn’t sure what to do with them. I just knew her treasures – now my treasures – should be honored somehow. An opportunity to do so came later when my husband and I moved to the Noble’s Pond community in Dover, Delaware. When building our home, we met with a consultant at the Design Studio who asked us what our dream home looked like. We talked about color and texture, fixtures and lighting, flooring and furniture. She asked what we were bringing with us and where wanted to start fresh. I told her about my mom’s opera library and she had an idea.

“What about framing them? Make that the focal point of the room. Echo the black and white text with an elegant, neutral color palate. Accent with musically-themed décor. The old record player you have? Display it! Continue to personalize the space with black and white family photos. Keep the thrill of art and the significance of tradition alive,” Joie suggested.

And I’m so glad she did. In this home – in our dream home – we turned a box of old pages into commemorative wall art. Such art will continue to have a place in my life. From our centrally-located home at Noble’s Pond, we are just a short ride away from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. Occasionally, we get a group together for a night out, where from our balcony seats, as my mom would have, we lean in and listen to the arias of a time long gone but not forgotten. Thanks to the creativity of the Design Studio at Noble’s Pond, we were able to save Sally.