The Codman Place
"Minor Antiques Problems"
My Grandmother, who kept telling everyone what to do whenever anyone of us stood still for even a second in her sight (this quality seemed to be especially in use on me), kept right on me about what to “move” when “Richard leaves”. The problem with that was, as near as I could tell during… the first three days… that I “cleaned out” “the barn”… not only did he not leave but he DIDN’T DO ANYTHING EITHER. Anthony (“Ant”), who was driving the loads for my grandmother said that was all he ever did anyway. He had a bad side to Richard the whole time we moved together. He said he was a “lazy piss” and I remember that to this day because that kind of talk was just being introduced to me and: I remember also how Ant explained “You know how when you piss’en over the bank of the river but your look’en OFF over the river and not where your piss’en” as to how THAT was a “lazy piss”. I don’t think I’ve ever pissed over the bank of a river ever again without thinking about Ant saying that to me. I’d never thought about it till then but he was right about that kind of piss. I still don’t know if he was right about Richard. It seemed to me that Richard, especially at first, was watch’en everything I moved like a hawk. Just because he didn’t help us didn’t mean he wasn’t doing something even though Ant was right that he wasn’t doing “ANYTHING” to help us.
I would ride with Ant to this barn across the river that my grandmother knew the people and had ‘em give her an “OK” to use …what proved to be a pretty sharp hiding hole for her plunder. That barn had a big ole front door that we would drive in. We had a whole left side all the way down that was empty to “drop” our loads in. We were instructed to drive all the way down to the end at the start and “drop” as “FAR BACK” as we could and “pack it in tight”. Ant seemed to know what my grandmother wanted because he was always very careful to be sure that everything was stacked right up tight even though it seemed to me there was enough space to play football in that barn. We had that side for only a month (this being the end of June) for that space, a ground floor, was for “the late hay” that the owners “cut & sold out” “in the winter”. So… what ever went in had to go “out” pretty quick. My grandmother understood this but didn’t seem to mind packing it in there. I learned right quick why.
She made us leave this one stall at the very end open. It was about one truck load in size. She and my mother would drive one of their cars down to the far end ahead of where we were “dropping”. They; my mother and grandmother, would spend most of the day back there in that barn. They would come to the house only in the morning and right after lunch. There they’d look around a little bit and tell us what to do and then leave. The rest of the day they’d be at the back of the barn “sorting”. What they did was to “go through” everything and take out what they “want” and put that in their cars and… take it over to ANOTHER barn that my grandmother stored stuff in for years. IF what they “want” was too big, they make us move it out into the center and then, after they had a “few things”, make us truck it over to that barn. It was like clockwork. As the stuff was sorted it was re-packed starting at that empty stall. When we first came in with a new load we’d have to place what my grandmother wanted moved outside the barn before we’d unload. I know now what they were doing. Those two knew what to do.
They were taking so much out “blind” (without ever having “looked” at it), they couldn’t tell what they got. So they’d sort it as fast as they could in the barn; out of sight of anyone, take the “good stuff” out and …back fill with “the rest”. Don’t think that the rest was “no good” cause it was GOOD. In fact it was… as I now know… pretty well choreographically re-packed to please the eye of ANY antiquarian AND also had a “remember that” IF Richard and his wife… “come over to see” “all of it”… WHICH THEY DID. Meanwhile all that the (“real good”) “anyone would take” “stuff” was, ah… “gone”. It’s sort of the same as changing cars after a bank robbery ain’t it.
Anyway, I was still learning that but Ant; he understood that but he was especially OK about it after my grandmother gave him this old shotgun he “found”. He wouldn’t shut up about that and kept it right behind the seat of the truck the whole time we worked and was always talking about “how” “if Richard knew”. Well… even I KNEW that the gun weren’t that good THEN but Ant was sure fetched with it. He just loved it and he still had it hidden in his house the last time I saw him which is probably twenty years ago. He was always afraid Richard was gonna see it and remember it and we used to laugh about that and how Richard never even knew that gun was in the barn.
WHEN Richard and his wife came over… it was twice. The first time they came over “to see”. That went pretty good for when they the “to see” everyone just stood around and said how “like so much junk” all that stacked up stuff looked like. The next time they came over because they “thought” they “wanted” a “picture” they’d “were sure” they’d seen “in the shed” of the “house” (the Codman Place) to “KEEP” as a “MEMORY”. Well… my grandmother didn’t know what they were talking about even when they tried to describe the little box it was in that “folded closed” and how it had Old Henry’s father out in front they thought and how it was about “this big” and they held a book sideways to show that size. So she told them to come over and look through the stuff if they wanted. They did that and after about two hours they gave up and said how much old junk there was that no one would ever believe a house that “small” could ever have “held all that”. They got all dirty too and they didn’t like that but they still hawked on about that picture and wanted my grandmother to bring it over “when she found it”. Well… every old photo my grandmother “found” that she thought had “the house” in it she brought to show ‘em but it was never the right one. A lot of times it wasn’t even the Codman place in the photograph but my grandmother showed ‘em anyway and they kept telling her how those “AREN’T THE HOUSE EVEN”. After awhile they give up the issue and, in the end, didn’t even take the photograph of Old Henry with his first car out in front of the barn that they’d said they “Want that too” at first.
NOW I know TOO well my grandmother was gonna be “THE GOD DAMNED” if they were gonna “go after” “that dag” for she knew a full well what that was and… any damn fool would NOW but then… those were still “neat” “old” “photographs”… commercially anyway… BUT: HELL and high water did not scare my grandmother off of ANY antique in ANY old house and… I can pretty much say I learned that good too. So there and… well… don’t YOU come as to “what happened to that” caused I’ll “What?” and the “I don’t” and, ah… THIS STORY …for you… is about “buy’en” an old place “out” and if you ain’t a better at it after read’en this then you’s missed whole lot ah point that I DIDN’T MISS when I was just young snap. What that means is …you can see why we trucked all that to that barn across the river and back?
Back inside the Codman place is where the real action took place only one would never know even if you stood there the whole time and …even asked “What are you doing?” over and over. On that first morning I was upstairs in the barn with a bunch of cardboard boxes and newspaper before Richard knew what had happened. Once we were both up there the old “What do we need THAT for?” came out right about the boxes because… most everything up there was already in boxes and… those boxes were bigger, made wood and covered with barn, ah… “soiling”. We both looked around in the dark at the mounds and Richard started to say something about “getting a light”. My grandmother shut him off like a light on that with “YOU DON’T NEED A LIGHT: PUT IT OUT IN THE YARD TILL THE TRUCK COMES”.
We did that. It was only about ten minutes so… well.. we were only bringing the second box down; it was a trunk, when Ant… backed right up to the barn and… weren’t he the dynamo when he was “pay him good”. He took charge and since he knew Richard like the peas in a pod (and also “had grown up with your uncle” to me) AND… knew nothing about “antiques and that old stuff”… he’d say… but I think he knew a little more than he let on… I was suddenly going up and down that barn stairs like a popcorn vendor at the ballpark… while he and Richard “shot shit” by the truck and…: Well… when I “free that up” by his instruction, we would ALL “move it out” right into that truck. I was getting the dirtiest but I will say that Ant come right along in that regard while …Richard managed to avoid even bending over. Right quick therefore we had a “full load” and… we drove off in that truck to… that barn across the river where “Your grandmother IS”.
And she stayed there. Till “dinner”. Just “how smart is she” (according to Ant) began to manifest. ANT was in charge of removing the “stuff” from the “place”. ANT! And he had no idea what he was doing! And I was “helping him”. And I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING. We were suppose to “clean it out”. That’s what we did except for all the time we spent joking about Richard doing nothing. That’s what HE did: Nothing. And we never even saw the wife because… she spent her whole time over at the NEW house.
At “dinner” Ant went off in the truck somewhere that I never asked but he was always right back in forty-five minutes… with a clean set of his green clothes on. He wasn’t suppose to smoke “around you” but he got rid of that …law… right away by telling me to “never-ever smoke” (I never have) and smoking the whole everything up (at the barn door with Richard and all the time in the truck as we drove) EXCEPT for the last minute before we came in front of my grandmother. Not that she didn’t know or care; she’d bid her peace on the subject so it was up to Ant to flank her. Some “flank” huh. He improved that by… managing to always swing by “the gas & go” store about three or four times a day where he was pretty well known and well; “get a soda” but toward the end of the day Ant switched from “coffee” to “ICE TEA” he called it. “ALL those WOMEN drink ICE TEA so give me one of THEM TOO!” he’d say in the store and Evelyn; the big ole woman at the counter would laugh and hand up a big bag of what I figured out was a …quart bottle of beer… that he’d “refresh” throughout the afternoons. Noth’en wrong with that.
But at …that first dinner… I didn’t say much. I listened to a conversation between my grandmother and mother that ’id curl a whole receipt pad of an antique dealer right up into a “big mother ole” bank deposit. It was “you understand already” “in context” chatter but… it divided heaven & earth in that “Codman Place” up into “minor antiques problems”.
 : I’m pretty sure that had a little bundle of money in that “OK” too because the people were always really friendly to Ant and me even when we were there in the early morning dark and had to park outside and leave the truck lights on to see. They liked Ant a real lot because he was always asking about their daughter who he called “That’s the PRETTY pumpkin!”. She was younger than me and was always hiding in the barn while we worked. Emily was her name: “LITTLE Emi” to differentiate from her grandmother who lived there too.
 : A half plate daguerreotype showing the front of the Codman house with a man in a long wagon with a banner that read “Buchanan” tied along the side of the wagon enclosed in a homemade wooden box that could be hung up so the lid folded downward when it was open but could be closed up too.