As the Captain Merritt Kimball …estate… prepares to abandon ship and the ‘summer people’ prepare to … ‘board her’, we will step aside and follow the chest of drawers for a few months… in 1962.
Charles brought the chest to my grandmother’s barn. He was paid for doing that. No one would tell Rufus “how much”.
The next day my grandmother went up the street and around the corner to the home of John Winslow. She left a message with John’s wife, Anna, to “please come by and move a chest of drawers upstairs for me”. John, like Charles, was one of “the men” my grandmother always had at hand to “help her”. John worked in the mill, had three young children, was still young himself… as was Anna and …needed any money for any work done he could get. “Before work” at 5:47 in the morning John and my grandmother moved the chest of drawers “upstairs”. Here it be understood that the chest is very small; a mere thirty five and one half inches wide. With the drawers taken out for moving, John could easily carry the small empty …Indian red stained Maine made maple hardwood… circa 1780 Chippendale bracket base chest case… upstairs with one arm. My grandmother assisted by carrying single drawers. John carried two drawers on the second trip upstairs. The job was done. John was paid for his “help”. He went off to the mill to work.
The room that the chest was “put in” was an unused back bedroom on the second floor of the ell behind the main house. This ell was the original ‘first’ house that had become the ell when the Victorian “new house” was built to front the …side street of the coastal Maine village… where my grandmother lived. This room was not used as a bedroom. Without ever naming it such, it was actually used as a store showroom by my grandmother to “sell antiques”. It was a special room with a special use… and no one would ever have suspected that… unless, of course, one actually SOLD antiques from that room.
The main fixtures of the room were an old brass and iron bed always neatly ‘made up’ AND the two blank walls of… old, age toned, browned, stained, peeling, seedy and faded… wall paper …above the head and far side of the bed. ALL other things …of any kind… ‘came and went’. The chest was ‘placed’ at the far wall of the room next to the window where, due to its small size, it “nestled in perfectly” including the obstructing glare from the window that “hides it good”. After the ‘nestling in’ my grandmother filled the …VERY CLEAN… drawers with… her own sweaters. And closed these drawers.
One of the curious tricks of the antiques trade my grandmother taught me… is that most oil paintings on canvas in old frames are… “no good”. This mean they are not worth very much money, no one who ‘knows’ paintings ‘likes them’, they are ‘hard to sell’ AND …they are abundant in the marketplace; in endless supply. The trade trick taught to I is that these worthless paintings may be use… to sell another antique: The bad painting is used as a red herring to bring forth a discovery of a ‘something else’. Therefore …and searching around in a barn shed or two of her hoard, my grandmother found a “JUST RIGHT” old framed ‘oil painting’ that “LOOKS GOOD TO ME” (like a rare painting ha ha) and …nestled THAT on the wall above the bed… WITH a second ‘OLD PRINT’, ‘framed’, above the bed’s head… too. The trap was set and baited. My grandmother… waited.
Mr. Simon, whom my grandmother always claimed was actually Mr. Simony, a name that HE shortened, was, to the world view of this small coastal Maine village… in 1962… a “rich doctor from NEW YORK” to some locals. A “rich lawyer from NEW YORK” to some locals. A “rich from NEW YORK” to some locals. And… a “rich stockbroker from NEW YORK” to a very small group of ‘some select’ locals. My grandmother was in the ‘rich from NEW YORK’ group… and never gave it a thought further.
“Simony” occurred to my grandmother from direct observation. Mr. Simon came to my grandmother’s acquaintance through… a local minister. This local minister knew a minister ‘from NEW YORK’. THAT minister knew Mr. Simon. HE also knew “Mr. Simon’s friend” who NEVER ‘came up’ from NEW YORK ever but was well known by the ‘some select’ locals to be a stockbroker “TOO”. The local minister brought the New York minister to ‘visit’ my grandmother when …this New York minister… happened to be “in town”. My grandmother served sherry.
She always served sherry to the local minister. He liked my grandmother’s sherry. She purloined her sherry through a judge she sold antiques to who was from Portland (Maine). This judge was a careful… judge… of sherry… and the sherry he allowed my grandmother to purloin. ‘Good sherry’, the judge discerned, allowed my grandmother to pursue ‘good people’ who had ‘good antiques’. Good people who either had or …in the case of the minister… ‘found to be available’… good antiques allowed the judge to buy good antiques from my grandmother after she plied the …local ministers and all other opportunities with ‘good sherry’. The New York minister, after wetting his lips with the sherry… WITH my grandmother’s sly notice of that lip wetting… liked my grandmother’s sherry… too.
Plied with sherry, the local minister repeatedly ‘delivered’ antiques, leads to antiques, homes full of antiques and even homes who had homes farther away that were full of antiques. He himself, this minister, showed little evidence locally of this actually very profitable activity he ‘has his hand in’. THIS activity was enhanced, so reported the ‘some select’ locals, by this local minister’s friendship with the New York minister. This enhancement came in two forms. The local minister told the New York minister about “properties” “that could be available” to be purchased to become a ‘summer place’ for a “people from New York”. The New York minister dispensed these …hostile takeover opportunities to …well placed men he ‘knows’ in New York. Gratitude, expressed by these New York men he knows came in many subtle forms AND trickled back to the… local minister too.
The other form of enhancement was brought from New York to the local minister. The New York minister always had lunch once a week with Mr. Simon, the stockbroker and ALSO in that same week… week after week… with Mr. Simon’s friend the stockbroker that …Mr. Simon never ever saw or talked to… ever. At these lunches the minister handled verbal property from these two men that would be commonly called ‘insider trading stock tips’. These… the minister passed back and forth between the two men over each lunch AND …could not avoid taking active actions about them himself AND often felt it best to refer the… opportunity… to his ‘dear friend’; the minister way off in the coast Maine village. Of course the hunky-dory, duck-duck-goose and who’s-on-first may easily be surmised … and was especially surmised… by the ‘some select locals’ who …had something to do with the local banks (plural intended)
Plural intended: Banking was doing well and expanding in this small Maine coastal village as more ‘summer people’ bought ‘summer places’. My grandmother had nothing to do with any of this AND did not even think of it BUT …did serve the sherry.