Monday, August 18, 2014

Cowboy Down - A Conversation Between Two Professional Thrift Shoppers - Part One - "Cowboy THAT"

(This photograph shows a sign in front of a thrift store
The sign means “bag sale today”
A bag sale is a thrift shop sale practice of allowing the filling of a
Whole bag for a flat dollar price
Of, like,
Two bucks
Many thrift shop shoppers cannot read English
Hence the ‘brown bag’ sign as the sale symbol.)

Cowboy Down

A Conversation Between Two Professional Thrift Shoppers

Part One

"Cowboy THAT"

            “Ok; let us SIT and go at it.  We’re just gonna TALK like always and we won’t care to be too organized.  We don’t want that and we CAN’T do that anyway because we never talk that way.  And we’re too stupid to care.  So... I’ll just explain when I think we need to so... let’s just start”.

            “Let’s... With ‘cowboy down’; that’s you; yours.  How’s that; we’ll tell’em that first.”
            “WELL... it’s... well... its FIRST meaning... is my sort of battle cry.  When I go into a thrift shop I’m gonna ‘cowboy down’.”
            “Meaning your gonna BUY GOOD.”
            “Yes; get out of the way here I come”.
            “So ‘cowboy down’ is your attitude about buying when you go into a thrift store”.
            “So I better say right here that this; going to thrift stores and buying, is what you do professionally, is the ONLY buying that you do professionally and that you’ve been doing this a long time.  How long?”
            Oh... twenty... twenty-five... 1990... 1985... years... at least.”
            “Just thrift shops”
            “Just thrift shops.”
            “So ‘cowboy down’ is your in-the-door buyer attitude and that’s been that all day, every day for, well, decades”.
            “And you ARE an antiques dealer by trade; you buy and sell antiques.”
            “Sell antiques but BUY thrift shop”.
            “Buy thrift shop?”
            “Junk; just like you do; buy the stuff that they think is junk but is actually good antiques”.

            “And you sell that how; doing the antiques shows.  I know you do a lot of those.
            “That’s what I do the most of.  That’s where I sell the most.  I do ebay now too.”
            “So you sell the junk you buy at thrift shops as antiques at antiques shows”.
            “That’s pretty much it.”
            “And you’ve been doing that for twenty-five years at least.”
            “And you like it and do well at it... no problem from what I’ve seen.”
            “Yes... it is good; works out well.”

            “Ok right here I gotta say that you’re a woman; a middle aged woman, married, children still around sort of.  That’s fair.”
            “That’s fair”.
            “Your husband likes what you do.”
            “So now, just to expand, we’ll say your OTHER meaning of ‘cowboy down’.  Now that means what?
            “Well... when one of ‘em buys something, thinks it’s good then asks me what I think and I tell ‘em it’s junk and when they want to know what that means I say ‘cowboy down’ meaning they have, as a dealer, made a mistake and are gonna loose money on what they bought”.
            “OK... ‘they’ is another thrift shop shopper that you know...
            “Sort of know”.
            “... and they think they’ve made a hit (bought something good cheap) and you tell’em ‘no way’ and they... you call ‘em cowboys because they’re so cock sure of themselves... are gonna LOOSE money”.
            “And a cowboy is man or woman.
            “So who is one?  Can you say one?”

            “Well... OK, so... like... Flat Rate...”
            “Flat Rate... I’ll explain; he’s a what... PAINTING dealer who we see all the time in the thrift stores buying crummy paintings that you’ve gotten to know so, well, talk with each other about, well, the paintings he gets and you...
            “He DOESN’T KNOW what he’s doing.  HE doesn’t know ANYTHING about PAINTINGS.”
            “Right so...”
            “I call him FLAT RATE because ALL the paintings he buys look the same to him and are crap; no good.  He NEVER gets a good painting or would know a good one if he DID get one or have a CHANCE to get one because he doesn’t know anything about painting”.

            “OK, so... he ‘cowboy downs’ all the time and you tell him that.”
            “Yes.  OR I just SEE him ‘cowboy down’ (buy bad).  Otherwise... I don’t think I’ve EVER done anything else with him except buy a GOOD painting that he was too stupid to buy.  And then I tell him to ‘cowboy THAT’.”
            “Your very patient and nice to him I know.”
            “I’m telling him the truth.  Just because a painting is cheap doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck.  Flat Rate thinks cheap makes it (a painting) good.”
            “Now you yourself buy a lot of painting in thrift shops that DO actually suck but you sell them pretty good”.
            “Yes but that’s the painting market.  The fine arts market.  I mean, you know... FINE... ARTS...:  F.-ARTS; farts.  Ha, Ha:  That market.”
            OK so that market we both know... is NOT a ‘good’ painting market meaning a true good painting by a true good artist but is a sort of low rent junk painting market of PAINTINGS by SIGNED.... LISTED... ARTISTS... that, ah... well... are pretty much promoted (promoted paintings and artists) by (self promoting) dealers who are fine art dealers by business card name (often with stores; galleries) who WE can sell, well, these stupid paintings and artwork we buy at thrift stores, to them.  We do this all the time because?

            “YOU’RE THE one who says it best:  A good painting; a real one, IS actually rare to find but we can find TONS of bad painting that LOOK good to the BAD (untrained art) eye so CAN sell these crummy painting to those people (F. arts dealers) no problem.
            “It’s a market that’s hard to turn your back on.”
            “Yes.  Especially when it’s right in front of you all the time (at the thrift shops AND at the galleries).”
            “It’s NOT as all over the place the way they (thrift shop paintings) used to be.  Now a lot of the thrift shops price their crummy paintings higher and try to look them (the artist) up themselves.  That’s ok (for them to do that) because they’re still crummy paintings.  They don’t get it; the market.  They think it’s fixed in stone.  Those kind of paintings and their market aren’t even scratched in sand before the tide comes in.  It’s the dealer who scratches the sand and that scratch is only there until the next tide (‘the painting is sold’).
            “Like you say; they’re “SELL IT” only paintings.  And... I don’t buy them.  I ‘get them’.”

            “Now... when you cowboy into the thrift store to cowboy down what do you look for first.”
            “Well there isn’t a ‘first’ for me.  I, you know, scan.  And in most cases I already know the (thrift) shop cold anyway so... I’m just ready to pick anything off.”
            “By anything you actually mean a real antique that is in fact a real antique that is understood to be that in the antiques marketplace and is also things like ‘good’, ‘nice’, ‘good condition’, ‘cheap’ and... well... I guess after that anything goes.”
            “And it does; sometimes it’s furniture.  Sometimes glass.  Sometimes art.  You know; that’s the biggest thing we bring to this is the all over the board cowboy down buying.  I’ve seen you go all over the board and there’s six people in the isle with you.  I mean... if it ‘s there, it’s nuts.
            “By that you mean that if good antiques priced cheap are for sale with you being in the thrift store ‘cowboy down’... it’s great.”
            “I can make a whole weeks pay in one crowded thrift store.”
            “But why... and I know the answer.”

            “And the answer is that the rest of ‘em (shoppers in the thrift store) do NOT know the answer.”
            “Which is?”
            “WHAT something IS.”
            “You scan for... something that is... an antique; a true antique”.
            “In the middle of all the junk and all the other people pawing through the junk.  They’re, like, looking at an egg poacher or something.  Right there next to it is gold.”
            “So how do you know?”

            “Your just saying that to be stupid.  You know that the ‘I know’ IS IT.  And that is backed up by all the ‘I don’t know’.  They... don’t... know.   So it’s over for them.  They may look as hard as they want at the glassware but unless they know what the glassware is... they are not even ‘cowboy down’.”
            “They’re cowboy what?”.
            “Worse than that.”
            “In my way.”
            “So what you know is the cowboy down”.
            “Well... really... no.  What I know is done.  And you know way more than me.  I mean... I see you with something it’s pretty rare that you don’t already know more about it than I’m ever gonna know.  That’s how I met you; staring at what you already know and bought.  Cowboy is when I don’t know for sure but am pretty sure or sort of sure.  How about not sure.  I do a lot of that”. 

            “You mean you are your own ‘cowboy down’; the loose money (second) meaning, too?”
            “Yes... I do admit I do a lot of that.  Watching you makes me try too hard and I do, truly, NOT know.  And I see you... I think I’ve come to know more from watching what you buy than from anything else.  I see you reach out for something and there it goes and I didn’t even see that even though it was right in front of me a minute before.  It’s just... I NEVER seen anyone like you.”
            “If it’s there I’m gonna find it”.
            “But I mean you’ll find it and it’ll be some French second republic fish steamer or some copper inlaid buggy step stool or an on and on you never stop thing I didn’t even know you could find let alone sell and then it’s right there in your hand and it’s obvious it’s GOOD.”
            “Well your better at it then most of ‘em.  I had to start watching you.”

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Codman Place - Part Seven - "Forever"

The Codman Place

Part Seven


            We took the loads across town to “the barn” and this was a considerably shorter drive except when we had to “swing around by” the “gas & go” on the way back.  At the barn my mother and grandmother made us unload at the front this time and they’d start sorting right there and dividing the stuff up into the barn and their cars.  These were parked out front.  They didn’t sort the way that they did across the river.  Here they pretty much took everything out of the trunks and boxes and took all of that except a few things back into the barn.  Those few things went in the cars.  The empty trunks and boxes were piled off to one side outside the barn door… except for certain selected trunks and boxes that they said were “too good”.  I got pretty good at knowing a “too good” one for not only did it look the “real old” when we carried it out of the attic but most of the time my grandmother would say “put that one over here” when we unloaded it.  “Over here” was back inside the barn door by a little room she kept locked.  It was open most of the day but it was locked when we left that night.
            And night it was.  Ant never said a word about it but it was getting dark before we locked up the house and …finished taking all the boxes and trunks outside the barn over to the barn across the river like my grandmother told us to.  Ant always seemed to know what we were doing and when we left the barn for the last load across the river he said he’d bring me back and “It was a good day:  Went real well” and how it was good to “get that behind us”.  My grandmother told him we’d “work it out tomorrow” and… that was that for when we finished the last load he just dropped me off without “stepping in” like he usually did.  It was dark then and the lights were on in my grandmother’s dining room.
            She made me get undressed in the shed as usual and made me “YOUR SO DIRTY” take a shower right away.  When I went through the dining room I saw they had the table all covered with old papers that I guessed they’d fetched out of the trunks.  My mother and grandmother were looking at ‘em; piling them up and trying to read different parts of them.  Both of them had their glasses on and were stooped in-under the light above the dining table, holding the old papers.  There was no problem knowing they were real old papers; anyone could see that.
            The next morning was where it really came true to me (and it has been true to me ever since over all these years) about how… when one “breaks up an estate” one sort of “lives” “the family” for a while.  Once they had all those papers… which were from the Bateman family just like they’d figured, my mother and grandmother pretty much didn’t shut up about that family for the next three months.  Everything was “Bateman” this or that.  And all the other names too like “Pricilla”, “Anna”, “Comfort” or “Willie”, “Enoch” or… “Briney”.  The last “drowned at sea” they always said.  On and on they’d go about who was that, whose that was, why this was and then is that, who that this was why and the “this should be” “therefore”.  It was just a little strange then but NOW it is such a normal thing that I really relish it.  What happens is you have so much of a “family” in an “intact estate” that their whole timeline eloquence just spills out on to everything.  This is furthered by there being no regulation or guide lines about the “processing” or examination of the estate; it’s the “let’er rip” method.  This makes professional archivist cringe but HELL I never see them in no “house” “clean ‘en out”.  And that’s the gap I’ve yet to see… rectified.
            But my grandmother and mother knew how to rectify an “old place”.  They just rolled in it.  I now know that any dealer worth a salt shaker rolls in it… to the best of their abilities too.  Pretty much “anything” that “is” part of what ever is determined to be the “core” of the estate is “squirreled off” to be “looked at” “later”.  And this “later” can be, for example, twenty years.  What’s left is the “dog barf” with a few “select additions”.  The core contents then is “worked on” VERY carefully for …decades… for…. by “piecing it out” “slowly” one can “live off of it” “for years”[1].  Also… and going back to those papers on the dining room table that night… there is a certain internalized voyeurism explored by many dealers when “handling” “an estate” that takes years to “finish researching”.  This is especially true if the estate has “something going on” as for example here when there is a “clutch” of “Revolutionary War” “stuff”.  But in these days that was all “new” to me.  And Ant; he didn’t ever really “get it” but, ah… he always said how he “didn’t school” “much” and how, when he worked with my grandmother she’d always “prove him” how much it “cost him”.  Then he’d tell me about how to stay in school and how he remembered how my uncle “went to college” and “how smart” “your mother is”.  And all.
            Now… that day in the attic… I, right off, took the house shaped box with the War of 1812 woodcuts pasted to it and …demanded to keep it.  My grandmother didn’t fight that but… she did look through all the papers inside the box and… only took a few out … but said “not to loose any” of the rest she left.  I didn’t.  I’d take those out one by one for years and…well; stare at them and then… carefully put them back.  The were mostly mid and second half of the 19th century color lithographed advertising cards and pamphlets, some almanacs and a bunch of little tiny cards with people’s names on them.

            After that attic clean out… there was not much to do… one would suppose… especially if you were twelve years old doing what other people told you to do.  “LOOKS CLEAN TO ME!” was my assessment and… I stood by to “help Richard” and all TOO but …no one had seen him… AND
            Was I ever wrong.  Today, thirty plus years later I know how to WAIT for just this moment in an “S-state” (S-state) for back then I’d be just LIKE ANYONE would be:  “IT’S EMPTY”.
            AND IT AIN’T.  Not even a long ways there to be an “empty” by my grandmother’s standards.
            But she got “the keys”.  That was because Richard and the …anyone else… decided by themselves TOO that …the Codman Place… “was empty” NOW.  So… in his words, my grandmother… “could HAVE anything” “else” “she wanted”.  That friggen bitch “wanted” TRUCK LOADS “out of there” “still”.  And she got ‘em… for free.
            There was one exception to this moment of conveyance of “the keys”.  Richard DID appear after, evidently having been well aware all along what we’d been doing (I guess he’d “come in” after we left in the evening) and we ALL did a “walk through” the main house together and the …shed, the little building by the shed and the barn… . And… all stood around just inside the barn door pointing to the this and that’s and “off to the side” and… more pointing and NO ONE GOING a God damn STEP into that barn… and… “Huh.”.  I said that to myself because the more I stood there saying nothing and listening the more I could “still see” “stuff” that “I knew” my grandmother was “gonna take”.  So:  “Huh.”
            But that isn’t what happened right then because… .  Well… WHEN we “walked through the basement of the house it was pretty damn empty to everyone’s eyes except that genuine World War II helmet of Richards… which he took down from it’s nail and carried along with him without making ANY comment and no else saying anything and the only person I seemed to think see all that was ME and since that was that then …that was that.  Right?
            While we were just inside the barn “talking” Richard would roll that helmet around in his hands just about in my face so… let’s just say I …knew where that helmet was and figured I knew where it was going.  That shrine to his brother had all been moved out piecemeal I’d come to understand and … at the new house it hadn’t been “allowed” “inside”.  Richard had stacked it all up in the trunks and boxes in about half of what was once a harness room inside the barn[2].  Remember them friggen “harness rooms” when you stare at the outside of an old barn.  This is the second time in just this story where one sees their current incarnation.  The first time is that “room” that my grandmother locked up everyday at HER barn.  If one combines the two uses one will note that… in most cases… those rooms, being sealed up, dry, modestly well lit by natural lighting and… “clean”… are …preferred treasure trove storage vessels by… many a Mainer who’s “GOT A BARN”, got “something good” and “needs a place to put it” “that’s safe”.  Pay particular attention to ‘em if… they are “locked”.  I figure the helmet was going to be the “hung up” “in there”.
            Just about the last moment of this seemingly innocuous and idle chit-chat that included that “HAVE ANYTHING YOU WANT” enunciation that I now know how to wait for like a clenched clawed rapier of … hawk sitting in a tree top watching the chicken pen door at dawn… Richard turn his gawk suddenly down on me and handed UP the helmet on to the top of my head saying “HOW” I “SURE EARNED IT” and I “WAS A BETTER HOME FOR IT” then his head and it would “GIVE” me “SOMETHING TO REMEMBER THE HARD WORK WITH”.
            Remember the hard work with?  This was work?  Ant was smiling.  I was …blinded by the helmet being down over my eye’s.  My mother was doing the “SAY THANK YOU” crap.  AND…from then on it was my helmet and I had that steel bucket with it’s camouflaged covering and “liner” around for the next decade of my life… until…after the Vietnam War protests were over and all… and it became… obsolete to my life and…well…:  I assume I “sold it” along the way then.  AND I DON’T wish I had it back but at the time I was as happy as a… WHAT DO YOU CALL a twelve year old kid whose filled his room(S! for I got … “more space” out of ‘em for MY stuff too) full of “authentic” relics of one’s own DISTINGUISHED selection process that PROVED that “the stuff they keep” “ain’t” “as good” as “WHAT I KEEP”:  “WANT TO SEE A REAL WORLD WAR II HELMET?  I got it from a guy who drove a TANK!”.  Got it?
            So that aced me for the rest of that day and wasn’t until the next day …at dawn… when Ant and I were in the yard of the “Codman Place” with my grandmother that “we” found out just “HOW MUCH” “was left” “to go”.  It was raining… real hard.  “We’ll start in the barn.” said my grandmother.
            I thought we’d “done the barn” pretty good.  The “upstairs” was empty to my eye.  The downstairs had all been the “gone through” and Richard had got all his “tools” “out”.  There WAS this big terminal moraine of “trash” to be “thrown out” that my grandmother had made us make down one whole side of the center of the barn next to the stalls[3] and… it WAS TRUE that here and there… in the harness rooms and stalls and the wood shed and the back pens and… well… all the “over there” too… there, after all… “is” “quite a bit”.
            That was, again, uttered to myself because my grandmother had already told Ant to “take” “all that (trash)” “to the barn (across the river).  All that?  In the rain?  We DID, all day long and … it’s true… that it probably DID look like we were taking it to “the dump” because THAT WAS the way one DID GO to go to the dump and… as it was …raining… we didn’t “see” “anyone” the whole day.  Except for Evelyn at the Gas & Go who said “AREN’T YOU FINISHED YET” to Ant who said how my grandmother was “making sure” it was “clean”.
            “Clean”:  That… “S-state” was CLEAN like you’d be CLEAN if … my grandmother bare-assed you and … soaped you and… wire brushed you… and… tossed you’s the stark naked right out in YOUR OWN front yard.  IT TOOK FIVE MORE DAYS to “get it” “clean”.
            By the time… I’d finished carrying the… old floor boards, formerly THE floor of one of the first floor rooms during …the 1820’s…, down from the attic floor where… they’d been laid on top of the actual attic floor… and no one would have ever noticed ‘em except my grandmother… and out to the truck… to… “driv ’em cross the riv-ah”, stacked ‘em in that barn and…:  Ant claimed he knew they “were there” but I see’d ‘im slid his foot on them dust covered boards when my grandmother first started to talk about their impending exodus and then… look off across the empty attic to denote just how far over they did go… .  WE was PRETTY WELL DONE THEN.  But that was the five days later.  The first day was that rainy day with the “trash”.  AND…as I recall…; the intention of this story was to relate as to how I found my first “rare book” that I knew was a rare book when I found it.  SOME time it’s been since I mentioned that!  THAT’S because I’s ah had to “background” you so’s you’s can appreciate HOW a little crap like me COULD find a rare book.
            WE took that “trash” “out”.  It then became an awareness to me that… considerably more than I’d… considered… “was left” “in the barn”.  TRUCK LOAD after TRUCK load was left in there but one would ah never know’d it for… it was not only “dark” in there but I guess the word that is best deployed is that is was “compressed”.  NOT TO BE SEEN in the now “open” interior of the “old barn” was, particularly on the first floor, THIRD FLOOR and the odd little fourth floor that was only across the “way back” of the barn… a startling amount of “stuff” “there”.  My grandmother knew damn well it was there.  She also knew that MOST of it came from that Bateman estate “from down to”[4] Brooksville.  “STUFF THERE” it were… WAY UP IN THE BACK… in boxes (19th century wooden boxes) that be the “full of” … the “old stuff” from, evidently THAT old house.  These had been moved to the Codman Place… about… maybe… the 1920’s but… it became evident, had in most cases actually been “packed” in the MID 19th century and moved “here” “unopened”.  But I was too stupid then to comprehend this and the merit of this.  My grandmother was not.
            ALL of this residue went directly to the cross-town barn and… the whirlwind of my mother and grandmother laid them boxes empty and stacked up JUST about as fast as we brought them in there.  “AND EVERYTHING ELSE” too.
            This last was “SHE’S NUTS” level removal.  Ant said that.  This is because she had him in under one of the stair cases in the barn with a crow bar ripping off a board to “get at” “the stuff” in-under that stair.  He’d “never seen that” he admitted, particularly as it…; “the stuff”, was “obviously good” once exposed.  Pieces, bits, scraps, sections and every damn stick, board end, metal scraps and… for a bibliognoste… “ALL PAPER” “was taken” “out” and … “saved”.
            It was during this phase that I acquired my rare book.  In general, the requirement was, once a space was perceived to be empty, to “go over it again” (and again) paying particular attention to the darkest, most “in-under” areas, loose boards, possible “space behind that” hiding places, dusty corners…, old little piles of hay and any …pile that could not be clearly answered as to “What’s under it?”, ALL the “old firewood” piles…, the stall and pen corners, floors, ceilings…., ALL beams and beam “tops”, “crotches”, ALL window frames… and… on & on & on until FINALLY my grandmother, HERSELF, stopped “finding” “more”.
            What happened was … that there really was “stuff” all over in the dust and dirt of the floors.  And I was going along up there with the flashlight and there was this flat square that looked like a board.  It was all covered with dust and had been stepped on and bent a little it looked like “nothing” but… “I was suppose to” “get it” so… I picked it up and even though completely dirty I saw is was “a book” right away and I opened it up and shined the flashlight on the first page and
            SAW the date of “1795” with a printed “picture” of a United States eagle in a circle… and… I KNEW THIS was “good”.  It was, to be precise, a small bound folio; bound in first half of the nineteenth century half calf and orange marbled paper covered boards with the “KENNEBECK (sic) INTELLIGENCER” on the spine in gilt…, retaining “a run” of this… the first newspaper published in Augusta, Maine… beginning with …the first (Nov. 14, 1795) issue and continuing through September 1800 when it “stopped”[5].  It was dirty on the outside, clean on the inside, bent, bowed, big for a book, sort of thick and … “MINE”.  The date and that eagle did it.  The rest “was nothing” except of course it was an “OLD NEWSPAPER” (“DATED FROM THE EIGHTEEN HUNDREDS SEE!”).
            I didn’t have any problem passing that through the “artifacts found today” inspection committee who looked at it in the cab of Ant’s truck where I put it.  They said it was “nice”.  And nothing else.  Ever.  So I had it.  For years.  In my room.  And I KNEW it was good… all the way through high school.  I’d occasionally look at it, show it to some kid and “try” “to read it”.  I’ve never been able to “READ” an old newspaper; I’m too superficial to bother to understand what the people were writing about.  BUT with that date and that eagle… IT WAS MINE.  Then one day after I’d graduated from high school and was either “going” or “was going” “to college”… this… and I remember this clearly but only sort of spot clearly… this… MAN came to “the house”.
            And this man…; he went on & on with everyone about everything and… in that on & on was “any old PRINTS?”.  Well:  I had an “old prints” that I’d “saved up” from “getting in” to places.  And… one of them old prints of which this man singled out just like YOU pick the largest piece of CAKE for yourself… was of … a building in Portland that … I’d found and “kept” because it was a certificate for …making the best “Hooked Rug” at some “exhibition” there… in the 1830’s (?).  So I showed it to him.  And he followed me along with it to see the “ANYTHING MORE?” in one of my rooms.  And… he, once in there, seen that folio and went all over it real calm like… along with the real calm too about that print.  He was orally the on & on the whole time AND being “with” “a museum” “in “PHILADELPHIA” too… .  Then he’d said the “like to buy those” and the “HOW MUCH” and I drew the old bow string WAY BACK in my mind of highest number possible and… he said “OK” right away, paid cash and was GONE… with them two selections from my stocks… forever.

The End

[1] :  I’m still “finding” “stuff” I “bought out” of “estates” a quarter of a century ago.  That stuff “looks pretty good” too.
[2] :  It was “still there” twenty years later when I “bought it” after he died but… I denoted… “some dealer” had “gone through it sometime” in the interim score of years.
[3] :  You’s got the balls to be’en a dealer?  Let’s just find out.  Would YOU be the one… during a “clean out” to… “the THROW out” something “obviously good” knowing that YOU BE the one to actually THROW OUT the “throw out” by simply and eventually going to throw out that “throw out” WHERE YOU WANT IT… thrown out?  HUH?  TRY IT and see how you do:  Take an “IT’S GOOD” and, along with a considerable more choice selections (like a big ole 19th century oil on canvas with a ship on it but having a slash hole the size of your forearm across that “in the original frame” canvas to it too) and… bury it… in the “throw out” “pile” and “wait” “until the end” and… do the “I threw it out”.  My grandmother; she taught me that and it works… and… you’s just wading along in the clean out and them; “the principals”, off times will come up with the “something” they “found” and “want to know” if “it’s good” or should be the “thrown out”.  YOU just the “throw it out” to ‘em know’en fool’s ass well it be “good” and… into and DEEP UNDER that pile it go until it’s “gonna throw that trash out today” TRUCK LOADS “don’t worry it’s all going to the dump” YOURS “for free”.  Let’s just find out if you’s ah got them “the BALLS” to “be’en a dealer” with all them “fine & rare” “decorative arts” (and… “old books”).
[4] :  If you’s practice “from down to” and the “include it” in your familiar utterances more frequently then you’s do now… (“Where YOU been?” “I’s from down to the bathroom”… “from down to the computer room”, “from down to the shed” or “from down to the… ATM machine”…), you’s be the “get along” to the understanding it’s meaning and correct use.
[5] :  It “stopped” because Peter Edes, the editor & publisher, started a “new” newspaper; the “KENNEBEC GAZETTE”, “Vol. 1, No. 1”… then.  I found a… “complete run”… thus …but I didn’t and… never did know this.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Codman Place - Part Six - "I Just Grabbed"

The Codman Place

Part Five

"I Just Grabbed"

            My grandmother and mother “owned it” (the estate contents) and were to the “getting it out”.  They knew how to “not show” “interest” so “go-ud” that THEY KNEW to sit it back and… wait.  JESUS didn’t I learn that from a table talk like that.  The crux of the whole was “the attic” where … “old Henry’s” WIFE’S “family things” “be”… except for “THOSE TRUNKS IN THE BACK OF THE BARN” “BE TOO”… .  This …block of merchandise… in that attic space… was denoted as the core of the estate.  NOT a friggen NOISE to anyone was uttered about that attic for… A DAMN WEEK.  It was understood that old Henry’s wife “was a Bakeman” from “down Brooksville”.  That’s way UP the coast by Castine.  “Anna” or “Susanna” or “Christina” or well… if your twelve and Maine genealogy is the topic at “dinner”… you’s bored so… I didn’t ever catch it all.  ANYWAY… that family was “hers” so that was “their family things” all up in the attic.  I did consolidate as to how that family was “fought in the Revolution” but… no one seemed to know much about the “battles” I hallucinated they were “in”.  In actual fact I know now that the …big battle they “FOUGHT” was with their Tory neighbors who kept trying to loot their home and mill.  But that don’t mean anything to this story except to note that their side “won” so… that a lot of “Bakeman things” remained “together”.  And they were up in that attic.  And my grandmother & mother knew this.
            So what they did is never go near that attic for a week.  Never mentioned it.  Never said a word about it.  It was always “clean out” that, “move this”, “take that today”, “get as much of” in a specified… either “room” “area” or… “floor”.  The last was toward the “end”.  One would think that an “end” means an “END” and that means “WE ARE DONE” and ..we don’t “do this” “anymore”.  It doesn’t.  I learned this.  It is a false end; a created “end” constructed… by my grandmother and… for years, a tactical directive employed with stunning success by… me.
            What it means… is that the “estate” in the “home” of the former owners is “DONE” in THEIR notion of what “DONE” is to THEM.  And… they, therefore, “don’t need to come” “anymore”.  The wife really never came anymore ever.  But Richard did for the first week and a little longer.  The little longer was crucial but after that… he was pretty much what he said:  “MOVED OUT”.  After the first three days of hard hauling out of the barn; principally from the second floor for Richard hadn’t “got his tools” “ready”.   AND in fact… there weren’t all that much ON that first floor “except in the back rooms” that my grandmother cared about anyway… :  We were “directed” to “work” “in the house”.  THEN my grandmother would show up every day first thing in the morning and give us very specific direction of what and WHERE to move that what in… direct collaboration with… Richard.  She’d also “come by” after “dinner” each day to “check”.  In the main house pretty much “everything” was going to some place.  “THAT” goes “WITH THAT” to “THEIR HOUSE” but “TAKE ALL THAT TO THE BARN”.  Got it?  It went right by me but… since the work was easier and cleaner then the barn I rode right along and … Ant spent a whole lot of time packing “it” on the truck “so it won’t get scratched” kind of stuff.  We used these old quilts from the barn that my grandmother said “USE THOSE” to us.  Funny how when those got to the barn across the river she wouldn’t let us take ‘em back and we had to “GET SOME MORE.  OUT OF THE HOUSE IF YOU HAVE TO”.

Then one morning:

            “WHY IS IT… THAT when people move out of a house they will not let anyone SEE what they are moving?” came to my ears as an odd query from a woman with a man in a pick-up truck that stopped so as to block Ant’s truck that we had just finished loading.  Ant said again that “It weren’t your business” what he “moved”.  The woman persisted.  The man in the truck said nothing.  The truck blocked our passage.  I stood behind Ant, at the front of our truck.  Richard was not at the house.  We had just locked the house.
            “We’ve got to be off” said Ant to the woman.  She looked back to the truck again.  Ant had intercepted her when she had stepped out the passenger side of her truck.  He said “Oh shit” and walked right out to her.  Once out of her truck cab she had walked down the little driveway and then walked down even faster when she saw that Ant was going to reach her before she reached our truck.  They’d talked briefly and each of them had gestured toward Ant’s truck several times.  After a few of these gestures I’d gotten out and just stood between Ant and the truck.  I heard Ant say “You can follow me all you want.”.  He came back to the truck giving me a rather hard “Get in”.
            Then he launched into a paragraph of linked profanities that, while he watched the pick-up follow us out across the river in his side mirror, made it clear to me he knew who the people were, that they were antiques dealers, that he did not like them, that this was trouble for everyone and that… when we got to the barn he sure hoped my grandmother was there because “she’d put her head up her ass”.
            My grandmother was there and …according to Ant… that’s what she did.  I didn’t see that because I was at the back of the barn with Ant unloading and my grandmother and mother “took ‘em on” way up outside of the front of the barn.  Ant stopped up there and honked his horn when we arrived.  The other pick-up had pulled right in behind us and when my grandmother saw that she came right up.  Ant spoke to her something using no profanities from the truck and she said she’d “take care of it” and to “go unload”.  My grandmother talked for a little while outside the barn with the woman who’d gotten out of her truck when we stopped and tried to walk down into the barn.  She never made it.  My grandmother held her off and my mother stood just back enough to block her again if she flanked my grandmother.  “Don’t she TWIST!” is what Ant said to me while we worked.  I didn’t see any twisting but that was probably because I was unloading while Ant spent most of his time watching.  When the lady left, Ant went right up and talked with both my mother and grandmother for a little bit.  When he came back I was all un-loaded except for the big stuff.  We unloaded that and drove back for another load.  Ant said the lady “won’t be back” and how she’d “met her match” with my grandmother.  We stopped at the “gas & go” on the way back and not only did Ant buy me an ice cream bar but he even told fat Evelyn all about my grandmother and what he called “That fuck’en bitch”.  My vocabulary was getting bigger everyday I worked with Ant.

            Back at the house we’d come to a point where I was suppose to “work with Richard” in the shrine.  But since he hadn’t shown up like he was suppose to, Ant had said we’d “strip the basement” and that’s what we’d been doing. I knew now how we took “everything” so we’d already taken three truck loads out there through a wooden doorway that lead down into it from the outside.  Throughout the taking everything I had my eye on that helmet.  Ant saw this and, as the space became “empty” he said to me quietly that “we’d better not” take “that”.  In fact he actually said we’d better not even touch it.  So we didn’t and after the fourth load that was all that was left down there.  It hung there, on it’s nail, from the ceiling, at the base of the stairs.  I didn’t like leaving that there but what could I do.
            The next morning my grandmother came down to the house and looked it all over as usual.  Ant went around with her but they made me “take everything” out of this little shed by the barn and put it into the truck.  That pretty much filled the truck.  Then my grandmother said a “Well” and then that I “should stay here” for when “Richard showed up” and Ant to take that truck load to the barn and come back.  We, I then gathered, were supposed to meet Richard this morning.  But he didn’t show up.
            While Ant was gone we went upstairs and “walked through”.  While we did this my grandmother would find little things still[1] and make me “Put that in the car.” so I was running up and down and in and out the whole time.  When I came back upstairs for the “five hundredth time” my grandmother weren’t there but… the attic door was open.  So up I went.  I knew for sure she hadn’t even been up here since that first day.  When I came up she didn’t say anything or touch anything and just walked up and down the isle peering in at the dark boxes and trunks.  Then we both heard a truck and, even though I could tell it was Ant’s truck, my grandmother said “Maybe this is Richard”.
            It wasn’t but we went all the way down and outside before Ant was turned around.  Ant said “HE AIN’T HERE YET?” and my grandmother affirmed that.  In hindsight its clear this absents phased neither of ‘em but at the time I thought they both might get… well, “mad”.  They didn’t.  My grandmother said to Ant that we’d “just been in the attic” and she “guess” we “should do that today”:  “Get it all out.  As fast as you can.”  Ant seemed to understand that.  He also seemed to understand that her telling him to “take it all” to the “regular” barn; the second barn, was nothing unusual although I’d “never done that” “this way”.  She also said to “be ready” “to move it from there”.  “To where?” is what I asked myself but I didn’t dare say anything out loud.
            From there on the rest of the day was “BOOM”.  That day was sort of cool and cloudy but I still remember the sweat we got going up and down those stairs.  And that wasn’t the end.  Ant didn’t ever say anything but I noticed that all that day we seemed to “go at it” at a faster clip then usual.  It started out with one load being normal.  Then, with the second load, we seemed a little faster.  By dinner time, my mother had these sandwiches at the barn and they talked about “working right through” “today” which we did.  Ant never said a word to complain and we still did get the “ice tea” in the afternoon but we didn’t talk with Evelyn hardly at all.
            We started at the top of the stairs and went down one side to one end of the attic, then back up the whole other side and then finished up from the other side of the stair top.  This last section was eased off by us “taking something” from it to “fill out” a load on each trip.  I was usually sent back up to “just get anything” “about that big” “you can carry” and, well, I “just grabbed”.

[1] :  Unbelievable this then but today it is my most regular habit.  Pieces of wood, metal and glass whatever’s; bits & parts, “slivers”, “that is that”, “iota”, “any paper” and the always proud “DIDN’T EVEN SEE THAT” “discovery” of something actually whole and “good”.  She took every damn thing there was and was repeatedly searching out more and more… AND MORE.  NOT a nook, cranny, beam top, dark spot, hole, crack, “back in under the shelf”, “Here: shine the flashlight in there”, “check between the (blank)”, “look behind and up-under” a (blank), “see if anything is just below” the (blank)” or “go get a hammer and pull that out” actually nailed down “something”… escaped.  And I learned to do this too.  And you should TOO.