Restating and reminding… while holding a glass of sherry… the source purpose to this tale is to capture “the very subtle trademark traditions of this whole… Maine… romance” and that is of… antiques… summer places and… summer people… as viewed… from whence these people… do not know of. From that imperative of story we are upon a stated… “we will step aside and follow the chest of drawers for a few months… in 1962”. This is part of the whole tale but, as I have shown, diverges to bring in other iota. The other iota shows that this iota has more to do with the summer people than the local Maine coastal village …old Maine families… people… except that these summer people with their iota are… ‘buying up’ the old Maine family’s farms to make summer places. In doing this a new (in 1962) prescribed etiquette is developing that is creating “the very subtle trademark traditions of this whole… Maine… romance”. I am still holding my glass of sherry and now, with this restating and reminding, presume you are too. Touching the sherry to the lips, we rejoin the tale.
The local minister visited my grandmother and sipped sherry for years. Eventually the New York minister appeared, was brought to visit and …sipped sherry… too. SOON… “too” became… coming ALONE to visit my grandmother …to sip sherry AND: “I find her stories very entertaining”. They were.
My grandmother “knows a lot about local history” the local minister responds to the New York Minister’s “I find…”. HERE is the foundation utterance of “the very subtle trademark traditions of this whole… Maine… romance”. THIS third party LOCAL stated qualifier; “knows a lot about local history” coming from a recognized as qualified to state such LOCAL …is the first skeleton key that unlocks the …first romance. When qualified by the local minister to the New York minister… my grandmother become a qualified yarn spinner of… “subtle trademarks of… romance”. She knows this and acts on this… within the “subtle” boundaries. IF… Captain Merritt Kimball’s wife… Sophia… “watched the sea for her husband’s return”… it was from…quite a bit of time spent alone above the et al of the village in the … ‘beautiful’ … ‘widow’s walk’ upon the very top of the ‘Kimball mansion’. I will let the reader unwind the ‘subtle’ string of skillfully deployed verbiage… for there.
Delighting in the complex weave of local stories fabricated and told by this ‘local historian’ the New York minister becomes ever more spellbound and …sherry slurred… awed. He leaves a visit beyond the boundary of ‘befuddled’ with ‘local history’ and …does not keep this treasure to himself. In HIS WORLD of the summer people he espouses and they listen and THEY … “the very subtle trademark traditions of this whole… Maine… romance” …too.
“She sells antiques you know.”
“No, no, no; not THAT KIND”. (Not ‘tea room antiques’). “She BUYS them FROM ‘the old families’ all the time. She gets WONDERFUL things!”
From these small dry sticks of subtle romance a flame appears; the New York minister bring a ‘summer people’ from his new ‘summer place’ to ‘see her’ and… sip sherry too. Mr. Simon visits.
And my grandmother serves sherry and KNOWS EXACTLY who Mr. Simon is. “He’s RICH from NEW YORK”. She also notices that Mr. Simon cautiously sips his sherry… not as if there is something wrong with it but… as if he usually sips something “a little stronger”. On Mr. Simon’s “in tow” second visit with the New York minister, my grandmother plops a glass down with two ice cubes in it and magically produces a very old and dust covered whiskey bottle from …somewhere in her dress. Pulling out it’s cork she “dashes” the ice with the old whiskey from that bottle saying direct “Will you please tell me if THIS is any GOOD”.
Mr. Simon… VERY cautiously… raises the glass to his lips, lets the whiskey touch those lips, pauses, carefully sips and then says “Oh my… what have we here.”. My grandmother sets the old bottle down next to Mr. Simon and… retreats. Mr. Simon, after sipping again, very carefully, sets the glass down, picks the bottle up, inspects it’s dirt covered state, looks at it harder, looks at my grandmother, looks at the minister, looks at the bottle again and finally looks at my grandmother again and says “WHERE… did you find THIS?”
“It was in the CELLAR of the DRINKWATER place.” My grandmother says. Mr. Simon does not know what that means. My grandmother does. The Drinkwaters and their place(s) come to that through the Grays and the Buxtons. Or vice ah versa; versa vice ah or …somehow sort of. The Grays built Mr. Simon’s summer house with (?) the Buxtons who afterward let the Drinkwaters in by marriage (?). Or was it the Grays and the Drinkwaters who let the Buxtons in. But the Buxtons were never in THAT house. Were they? Didn’t they BUILD the PURDY house? No. It was the Drinkwaters after the Grays… that ‘lived in’ Mr. Simon’s summer house… who had the …dust covered bottles (note plural) of whiskey … in the cellar… that my grandmother …found… there.
“Oh.” says Mr. Simon not understanding a whit of that AND “knowing nothing” that it is HIS house being talked about AND becoming “fogged” by the two small sips of “Drinkwater whiskey”… “too”. The New York Minister DOES know that “Mr. Simon… the Drinkwater house is YOUR summer house”.
“Oh. From there? You FOUND this THERE? In my cellar”.
“It wasn’t YOUR cellar then Mr. Simon”.
“Oh. …Right. Now. Its mine. The cellar. I don’t think I’ve been there yet.”
As Mr. Simon takes his third sip of all of this the conversation changes topic for a moment but …is brought back to “my house” by Mr. Simon who changes topic with the outburst query of “WHAT else did you FIND in MY house?”
“Well… I ….DID buy quite a bit but… it’s been QUITE A WHILE… since… well…: It was BEFORE you BOUGHT the place. I’ll have to think here a minute: WHAT I still have.”
Mr. Simon doesn’t say anything. The New York Minister returns to the first ‘changes topic’ of the coming soon…strawberry shortcake festival… “at the church”.
My grandmother received the THREE bottles of ‘whiskey’ from the judge. HE said he found them in the “cellar” of “his old (office) building in Portland”. My grandmother never believed THAT for a minute… and doesn’t care… especially NOW that she possibly has, she believes, struck a vein of GOLD using them. WHERE the judge actually gets, gots and goes in HIS skillful travels… would fill a whole BOOK, my grandmother believes, for HE is as adept as SHE “at all of this” “you know”.
“I DO HAVE… the little CRICKET Patience Drinkwater used… by her BED.” injects my grandmother, following Mr. Simon’s lead of ‘changes topic with the outburst query’.
“Cricket?” says Mr. Simon.
“A cricket. Yellow. VERY OLD. Nice. I use it IN THE SHED” (summer kitchen actually but that’s ‘too advanced’ for Mr. Simon).
“A cricket?” repeats Mr. Simon while the New York minister says nothing because …HE ‘knows nothing’ TOO.
“A little step stool. Patience used it to get into the BED. Her bed. BOTH used the bed until CAPTAIN Drinkwater DROWNED.
“Oh. In MY house?”
“At SEA. PATIENCE did DIE in your house. IN the bed actually. WITH the cricket.
“Oh. You have this CRICKET?”
“Yes. Right in the SHED. I use it. To step up.”
“Oh how wonderful.”
“Yes it is. Wonderful. It’s painted YELLOW. Wonderful.
“May I see it?”
“I’ll sell it for”.
“It’s for sale?”
“Oh yes. Absolutely. Its from there; the Drinkwater place. Patience used it by her bed.”
“Oh this is wonderful!” says Mr. Simon.
My grandmother gets up and leaves the room heading off toward the kitchen. Both Mr. Simon and the New York Minister take responsible sips and JUST BEFORE they can start to converse with each other a door shuts sound brings my grandmother BACK with ‘the cricket’.
“OH this IS WONDERFUL!” says Mr. Simon when handed the cricket. “My wife will LOVE this! From MY house you SAY. And what was the woman’s name again?
“Patience Drinkwater, Mr. Simon”.
And that is how the travel to the…baited trap… Sophia Kimball’s chest of drawers in the back bedroom began. Except… I remind that the year is 1962 and thereby reflects a very high price for ‘a cricket’ ‘then’ AND that Mr. Simon “don’t have any CASH” so had to write a (local bank) check.
“That’s FINE, Mr. Simon, thank you.”