I was recently afforded an opportunity to do something I had wanted to do for a good while.
There is a home that is very near my house. It has been passed down through the same family for seven generations and now it stands uninhabited.
I had recently asked the current owner if there was any chance I could get in there and take some photos. She readily agreed and was beside myself. I had looked at this house for many years and wondered what it looked like on the inside and now I was going to get to see.
It was decided what day I would come over and it was this past Sunday. I called them when I got home from church and asked if 3 pm would be okay for me to stop in. Her husband told me that would be fine.
So for three hours, I went and got gas, went to another abandoned house, just anything I could do to kill some time. I went and paced around in my yard I was so excited.
When the time finally arrived, I was actually a couple minutes early. The owner is my second grade teacher. She came out of her current residence and welcomed me with open arms.
She took me into her house and showed me treasures she had moved up from the old house. There were turn of the century furnishings, ornate headboards on the bed, cabinets, silver services, her grandmother’s spectacles and college photos of the former residents of the old house, her cousins, who helped raise her.
They were two sisters who taught school and never married. Their entire adult lives were dedicated to educating other people’s children. She had followed somewhat in their footsteps. She was an educator and she never had children. She did, however, marry, twice.
She asked me to sit where I thought I might be comfortable, telling me that old furniture was not all that comfortable. She sat in a rocking chair with wooden arms. There was beautiful carving in the arms. She sat and she rubbed her thin hands along the arms. She told me that as a small child, her job was to “dust the chair”. As she said it, she ran her finger on the inside of one of the indention’s. She then told me that her grandmother would come behind her and check her work. If not done satisfactorily, it would have to be redone.
She called for her husband and he came down to join us. As she was getting a wrap so she wouldn’t “catch a chill” he told me that we would have to drive down to the old house. She was not able to make the walk. I told him that was fine. I could ride or walk either way. So we loaded into his pickup. It wasn’t much of a drive. When we were getting out of the pickup, she told me to be careful because there were walnuts on the ground and they might roll under my feet and cause me to fall. I told her I would be fine. We discussed her walnuts vs. my chestnuts and the trials of having those trees in our yards.
Her husband came around the truck and helped her out. As she began to walk, he took her hand and led her through the yard. It was sweet to watch them. As he got us to the moss covered three steps into the house, he helped her up and told her that he would be in the truck reading and if she needed anything, I could come and get him. He then stepped away and I followed her lead.
The first photo I took was of the steps. You could tell that the steps are not regularly used. The moss had covered the rock or concrete underneath so that it looked like they were carpeted.
All my senses were on high alert. I had waited so long for this moment.
As we entered the house we were in the kitchen. I noticed the smell right away. It had a musty mildew smell to it. I looked around for a moment and she just stood there and allowed me to take in what I was experiencing.
There was no sound. No ticking clock, no background noise, no refrigerator or washing machine running. There was no sound. I looked at the table right in front of me. It was set as if waiting for someone to return to it for a meal. There was a modern stove, as she and her husband had lived in it for a time until the cold winters in an old uninsulated house became too much for them.
There was a cabinet standing behind me, still bearing memorabilia from a bygone era.
She told me she was sorry but she was not able to clean. I told her it was fine. It was perfect just as it is.
We walked over into a little seating area and there was beautiful art on the wall and chair were they might have sat on cold nights to close off the rest of the house to keep warm.
On one of these walls was a cubbie that served as the post office boxes when her grandfather had served as postmaster and storekeeper in his country store.
Beside it sat quill pens in a clear jar atop a couple of aged books. I never touched them but wondered what the books were. In one of the cubbies, there was an advertisement for Arm and Hammer Baking Soda.
We walked on through the house and went into a bedroom. There was no bed there now. I did see a clock. It of course was not running. I wondered who in the family has slept in the downstairs bedroom. She didn’t say. The we went into another bedroom. There was an elegant fan laying there as if waiting for one of the young ladies who lived there to come back and retrieve her forgotten item.
She told me to mind my step in this room as the floor had given way with her once. She told me that she had gone through a period when she dreamed she had fallen through the floor and into the cellar.
As we left the bedroom we walked past the staircase to the upstairs. This part of the house was off limits due to damage done by and old leaky roof and apparently some raccoons who decided to set up house keeping.
I was in awe at what I was seeing. I told her that she didn’t know how happy she had made me allowing me to come into this home. She looked at me in the eye and said this house has been here for almost 300 years. The cabin part of it was built in 1839 and it ends with me. There is nobody left. I am the last one. I never thought anyone cared about it so it is I who should be thanking you. I told her that the house would still exist, in photographs.
Part two coming soon….