Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Our house

Yesterday was tiring. I did get everything but one done from my list. It is always an emotionally tiring day when I have to go back and see the old house. It still hasn't sold. It was a good house to us and I would like to see another family in it. A young family that could handle finishing up a "fixer-upper" We put sooo much money into it with a new roof, a new basement, new wiring, taking out the old horsehair plaster and putting in drywall,insulating but it isn't finished. And in this day and age we have television shows that tell young people that you shouldn't buy a house unless it is perfectly trimmed out to your tastes and unless it is just the right color of putty. If it's not just so, then the whole place should be considered a waste or a flip house.

The house needs a young family. Small children love that house. Large double wide doors throughout makes it feel open and little kids take off and RUN! Then when they get clear to the end of the house, in the kitchen, they dive into the pantry and peek out to see if anyone is chasing them. The house itself seems to warm up when there are small children in it. We used to talk about the ghost in the house, because it just seemed like there was SOMETHING there. Almost as if the house could breathe.

I have covered every inch of that house, even bled on one or two spots. I have scraped the paint down to bare wood. I have ripped off shingles on the roof. Torn out two old brick chimneys. I know the house. I know that the back part of the house is older. The nails holding it together are old cut nails. The nails are flat and look square from the end and they hang on tight forever! The 2x4's are full sized rough cut. They are so old and hard, they are practically petrified! The front of the house is newer. It has round nails in it. And as they worked the builders wrote on the insides of the wall. Sometimes it was just identifying where a piece of wood would go, like "front north trim" In several places there are scripture references. I remember one was from John and another from Isaiah. All of it in a beautiful, almost spencerian script.

The house also gave us treasures. Thanks to balloon framing, items from the attic fell down the walls. When we tore out the plaster we found one black button up ladies boot and one black stocking, a pair of home made wool felt baby shoes, a child"s black parasol with wood shaft and porcelain knob handle and all the metal ribs were removed. There was the child's sewing card and a Liberty head dollar dated 1924 in mint condition. There were the newspapers also dated 1924 describing what was almost a war in the streets of Chicago during the height of the gangster reign. There were also Episcopalian Sunday school papers. Under a room size piece of linoleum, we found a wedding license. The house apparently wanted to keep that because I cannot find it anywhere. The house has also decided to keep some of the kid's drawings from elementary school. I put them in a scrap book that they made for me out of two pieces of cardboard. I knew exactly where it was. Somehow it managed to go somewhere else.

We don't know exactly when our house was built. Town records indicate that the first recorded sale was in 1887 for the price of $2000. An appraiser told us that technically it is a Queen Anne style "I" cottage, but it is more then that. The house, for it's long years, hasn't changed hands all that often. Both the original purchasers the Woodhulls and the next owners, Blythe and Blanche Blair, lived in the house for over forty years each. The third family was there only two years and then moved to Arkansas. Then there was us. We were there for 27 years. This house seems to want long term relationships.

Sometimes the history of the house amazes me. It probably sheltered Civil war veterans. It came into existence with the railroads as the Indian wars were dwindling. As the buffalo disappeared, the Sears kit houses sprang up all over the region. The house watched the coming and going of two World Wars and the Korean and Viet Nam conflicts. I am humbled at the thought of all of the history my house has witnessed, and I did my best to put it into good enough shape for it to move on to another family. I want it to last another hundred years.

We just need to find the right family for the house. It needs the right family to take care of and the house needs the right family to take care of it. But right now, it is a mortgage that we can't afford and it's sad that is the way things seem to boil down. I hate it when life just turns into issues of money. Oh well, what can you do?


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