Letting Go of the Breakers

The Breakers | Thomas Obara, Google Maps

“They’re going to turn this place into a carnival.” Paul let the heavy drapes fall closed.

He was grumping on about the Welcome Center again. The Preservation Society planned to break ground on the structure next spring.

“Come now, is it really that bad? We can’t even see the site from our suite,” Gladys said.

“That’s not the point and you know it. Our grandfather built this place.”

He was always saying ‘our grandfather’ as if the old man had bounced them on his knee. In truth, he wasn’t a grandfather but a great-grandfather. To Gladys, he was a stern face staring from an oil painting. “Things change,” she shrugged.

“We’ve kept the very roof over their heads. And at great expense, I might add.”

She stared past the collection of dusty antiques wearing their skins of fading silk, to the watermarks along the south wall. That was also true, which was maybe why it was time to let go.

160 words

This week I went over by 10 words, which I am counting as a birthday present 🙂 This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, visit the InLinks.

This story inspired by Are the Vanderbilt Heirs being forced out of the Breakers? The answer is yes, and to give away the ending: They were.


  1. Great story. It’s amazing how much sway the imagined past can have over a family. Most of my cherished family stories aren’t true, as it turns out. Happy birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe all the past is imaginary 😉 It is funny how two members of the same family can remember things so differently. Thanks for the birthday wishes!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This worked perfectly well as a story without me knowing the background, but that made it extra interesting. It’s so compelling to me, how the past changes over time as its worth is re-imagined and re-valued — and how even members of the same family can have such different perspectives about what should be preserved. Great glimpse into this moment of transition for one family!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Joy! I was struggling to make a story that gave the essence and was satisfying, so your comment means a lot. I probably did it at the expense of the actual sentiments of at least some of the characters. Hopefully they won’t go after me. It IS fiction, though inspired by true events. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Whenever you attempt fictionalized accounts of real people, you always have to make up most of the details. Unless you are horribly slandering them, I can’t imagine they have the bandwidth to care that much — famous people are used to being a topic of speculation and discussion after all.


  3. Cara Hartley

    I feel that structure would be better suited as a museum than a carnival.
    I was unhappy when they tore down the apartment building and mortuary that my father’s maternal family had owned and turned it into a parking lot.
    ~Cie from Naughty Netherworld Press~

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Cie, thanks for reading and commenting. I agree that place makes a better museum than a carnival. It’s sad when all we have left are the memories of a place!


  4. It’s hard to hold onto the past when the things we cherish are no longer wanted or needed. Also hard to see your family’s legacy given away. Great voices here, Karen and you’ve helped us see both sides. Hope you managed to have a great birthday, despite the restrictions

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Lynn 🙂 I did have a great birthday, but I’m one of those reclusive types so the closures and restrictions do little to cramp my style. I feel a little guilty about it, actually. Hope you are faring well.


  5. Dear Karen,

    Sometimes practicality has to overtake sentimentality, doesn’t it? However, when Kansas City talked about tearing down Union Station I was one who lobbied against it. I’m so glad we won and the place has been made into a center of learning and history. I do tend to lean toward sentimentality, myself. 😉 Good story in any event. Glad to read your birthday was a happy one. I’m a bit of a recluse myself.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you lobbied. I’m pretty sentimental myself.


  6. I love the mansions! I am hoping to go on a tour again when they reopen. Now I think they are only open on the outsides.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They look amazing, hope you get inside!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. A well constructed story, Karen. It engages our interest, and then our sympathy as we learn of the growing deterioration of the structure of their much-loved home.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Penny! It’s kind of sad such a beautiful old place is so difficult to keep up.


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