February 25, 2021

Coffee and beignets with neighbor Alicia, 1970


When we bought our first home in Columbia in 1970, a bonus was having the Dolans as neighbors just a block away—at the corner of Beltline and Trenholm.  John was a brilliant and irascible history professor at Carolina—a former Jesuit priest.  His wife Alicia was a gentle and creative woman, with the husky voice of a chain smoker.  

On this particular day, she had come over (probably without John) for coffee and homemade beignets with us.  This was before Patrick was born so Heather’s just 2 years old.  I loved the dining room in our Cape Cod home on MacGregor Drive.  The house had tall ceilings and plaster walls—there were two big windows in the dining room—and a wonderful recessed window in the living room.  The Mona Lisa look alike print on the wall was a souvenir of a trip to the National Gallery of Art.  It felt so good to make those delicious beignets and coffee to serve my new friend in our dining room.

Alicia had a son and daughter from a previous marriage and devoted a great deal of her energy to defusing John’s outbursts.   We thoroughly enjoyed visiting back and forth as neighbors.  A short time later, she took up a new hobby—first in making ceramic miniatures for dollhouses and then she created a unique design for Christmas ornaments on which she painted lovely designs.  She began selling her wares at area crafts fairs and by mail order. Soon she enlisted others including another neighbor Carol Buckley to create more of them. They are still among my favorite ornaments each year. They are as lasting as my love for this dear friend who once  was my neighbor.

Alicia’s ornament for my new house, 1980

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