Saturday, April 27, 2013

Summer Place - Part Twelve - B

Summer Place

Part Twelve - B

            As the American Revolution approached… and this young Sophia neared the end of her ‘grew up on the boat’… that boat made ever more frequent visits to an isolated but active cove… along the Maine coast.  This ‘safe harbor’ was guarded by two rocky shore cliffs… of moderate height… at the sea’s edge on the sides of the entrance to the cove.  “UP” the cove, at its head was a ramble of low and oddly constructed buildings that hovered just below “sticking up”.  Two docks were before these buildings.  These docks, their deep water and the space about them to come and go… were on a very straight line between the cliffs from the open sea.  If one was ‘at sea’, in the dark, but had fires burning on the top of the cliffs, one could quickly sail ‘straight in’ to the cove.  Extinguishing the fires promptly assured that no one could follow… or even ‘know you were there’.
            Compass Parker had many and various clients.  He preferred business clients who did business for themselves so looked to him to provide a quantity… and quality… of rum that they, in turn, could water and trade.  Compass, in exchange, traded for their business stock.  The better the quality of this trade stock, the more affluent in appeal of this trade stock, the more unique of object this trade stock and the more consistent the supply of this trade stock… all had a great influence on how much business… and how often this business… ‘was done’.
            John Armstrong, a fine young man who came from a fine Maine coast family that was more of a clan… too; just like the Parkers… lived in the buildings at the head of the cove and considered all of the activity there to be his.  HE came from a family line named John Armstrong; father, grandfather, great grandfather… et al.  John carried on the tradition of the family; he was ‘in the family business’.  He was a ‘wrecker’.
            A wrecker, in its short definition, is a person who… ‘salvages’ …usually from wrecked boats and sea shore castings… ‘anything they can sell’.  This career pot boils to a fullness of …actually causing wrecks to take place… along the Maine coast.  This practice is less actual and more legend.  Destroying boats along the Maine coast in the 18th century was ‘a waste’ especially if all that boat had as cargo was lumber or ash.  From John’s vantage, purloining a cargo of ... small kegs of rum and the boat TOO was the right idea.  Of course Compass Parker had to deal with these thoughts from many and …John understood this and … realized that HE and not Compass Parker, might become the wreck.  This sort of professional standoff was standard business and… remains so to this day… in Maine.  Unless… it involves ‘summer people’ in their ‘summer place’.  They… ‘are fair game’.
            My grandmother considered the wrecker trade to be the earliest form of antiques dealing in Maine.  John’s marked ability to procure, purloin and ‘collect’ singular objects from singular cargos and from the singular fellow traveling wreckers… created a singular set of buildings filled with a singular trade stock at the head of a very ‘easy in – easy out’… to a rum peddler in a boat.  Rum, of course, for John Armstrong, was “better than gold” when it came to assuring a regular and ‘best’ supply.  There was no advertising, no business card and no …way to get there (to the store).  No one wrote anything down.  To come by wagon seeking to trade for a keg or kegs of rum… one had to ‘set out’ ‘toward the sea’ and ‘find it’.  They did.
            My grandmother considered… in her mind… WITH ‘the very subtle trademark traditions of this whole… Maine… romance’… this trade to be … the finest antiques shops in Maine… ever.  So did Compass.
            Compass took away his small boat loaded with purloined plunder of… preferably English but acceptably French, Spanish and Portuguese ‘trade goods’ preferably ‘traded good’ from THE CAPTAIN’S CABIN.  That included the fixtures and ‘anything else they could sell’.  MOVING this booty ‘out’ was John’s second most active state, just below the first state of procurement.  John, by modern antiquarian standards, had a ‘good eye’.  That was not too hard to have.  He simply saw, identified and purloined ‘good stuff’.  And sold it.  He sold it to Compass… who sailed it down the coast and …sold it (traded it for more rum)… in Boston and Salem.
            To no surprise, the young Sophia growing up on the boat and young John Armstrong at the head of his cove… fell in love and were married.  Sort of.  THEY had a daughter.  SHE was named Sophia TOO.  She… was a ‘wrecker’s daughter’ in the classic Maine sense.  What is ‘the classic Maine sense’?  It is not ‘summer people’ in their ‘summer place’.  It is ‘the very subtle trademark traditions of this whole… Maine… romance’.  That means this Sophia grew up standing on the cliffs above the cove in the dark night next to the fires with her mother while her father ‘came in’.
            By the end of the American Revolution, Compass and his wife were getting older.  John Armstrong and his wife …with their daughter… were “doing great”.  The daughter; Sophia; Compass’ granddaughter, was “growing up”.  The war had not affected these people.  Trade was brisk in rum and plunder.  A canvas bag of various national flags that could be ‘run up’ as needed, maneuvering along a jagged dark coast and …knowing a great many people of all sorts through the trade in… little kegs of rum… assured ‘the business’; now a family business, ‘flourished’.  New coastal traders appeared.  Called ‘Privateers’ and often having printed paper licenses to be a ‘that’… they were actually more pirate and smuggler.  One of this new breed of fine young man turned ‘sea captain’ came into the cove one day.  His name was Merritt Kimball; CAPTAIN Merritt Kimball.  He kept coming back.  The youngest Sophia noticed this.  The captain noticed Sophia.  Eventually they were married.  Sort of.  THAT is how Sophia Armstrong came to live in the Captain Merritt Kimball house.  And that is also how Captain Kimball ‘made his fortune’ as “a privateer”.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Summer Place - Part Twelve - A

Summer Place

Part Twelve - A

            When… my grandmother spied …the old china bowl… in the cupboard… in the old kitchen… of the oldest and original… house… now but a ‘part’ of… the big, grand and later… ‘Captain Merritt Kimball house’… she… knew what it was… and… what it was.  The old china bowl had TWO ‘what it was’
            The first ‘what it was’ is antiquarian and clinical.  My grandmother knew that she had discovered a classic English creamware punch bowl with the classic hand painted floral ‘King’s rose’ decoration.  The title of ‘King’s rose’ for the name of the decoration has, in recent years, slipped from usage for it is an ‘old school’ New England antiques (dealer’s) title term that today is considered a sort of …slang term.  In 1962 this title was still ‘the name’.  Today, in the romantic underground vocabulary of the antiquarian interest, it is still in popular usage but… in most cases of usage… it is used to describe a very similar BUT NOT TRUE AND EXACT painted pattern, usually offered on plates, that are ‘later’ meaning… 1800 – 1825.  ‘Later’ also means that antiquarians such as myself ‘don’t want that’.  This current name usage is protected for it is actually very hard to …actually find… an actual… EARLY true creamware ‘King’s rose’ …anything.  That is not the point here but it does enhance my usage of the word ‘clinical’.
            True ‘King’s rose’ is ‘colonial’, ‘old attic’, ‘old settler’, ‘old sea captain’ and… never found in a ‘summer place’.  It’s ‘too rare’ and when found… it’s ‘too expensive’ ‘for them’; ‘they don’t know what it is’.
            This last my grandmother knew right then, right there and right there ever after.  That is why Rufus sold “it” for fifty cents, why my grandmother never let go of “it” for the rest of the visit and …why she simply slipped “it” into the back and bottom of her …junky old china cabinet.  Aside from a slightest of hand of an in the know ‘knows what they’re doing’ antiquarian visitor such as “the judge”… whose eye would make the true bee’s line to that ‘old china bowl’ but “never bought it”… “nobody cares” about “it”.  It was, for my grandmother, “safe”.  It stayed there until she died; “Nobody wants it”.
            Well… they WANTED IT but… “wouldn’t pay”… “my price”.  AND… WHEN they asked, they got to hear the saga, in one form or another, over and over again.  AND …they ENJOYED hearing the saga for THAT was what made the ‘old china bowl’ “good”.
            When my grandmother “kitchened” that ‘old china bowl’…:  Right then:  SHE KNEW WHAT IT WAS… as meaning number two.  “IT” was “Compass Parker’s Bowl”.  My grandmother had been looking for Compass Parker ANYTHING in the ‘Captain Merritt Kimball house’.  She had not mentioned or discussed this with anyone and never ever did.  “Nobody would care about that.” she’d say.  It was and IS STILL the opposite; not only do ‘they’ “care about that” but THAT “IS” “it” about all of this.   Compass Parker’s Bowl IS… “the very subtle trademark traditions of this whole… Maine… romance” (Part One).
            Sophia Kimball, wife of Captain Merritt Kimball… had a mother… whose name was Sophia too.  THAT Sophia had a mother and HER name was Sophia.  Too.  THAT Sophia was married to, sort of [1], a George Parker.  There were lots of George Parkers along the coast from about 1640 to 1800.  THERE WERE LOTS OF PARKERS along the Maine coast.  This one George Parker; Sophia’s husband, sort of, was distinguished from the others by the nick-name-that-stuck of “Compass”.  He was “Compass Parker”.
The Parkers… along the Maine Coast… in the colonial era, may be considered a sort of coastal seafaring clan… in a very loose and casual way.  Parkers were born, sailed along the coast ‘trading’ or occasionally ‘built a cabin’ on shore for ‘trading’… and died, in some way, only to be replaced by another Parker.  Or two.  What kept the Parkers going was their ability to keep going.  Indians burned them flat.  Settlers fled the Maine coast.  They came back and rebuilt only to do it all over again.  A Parker would appear ‘along the coast’ promptly to ‘engage in trade’… whatever that was… and the Parkers did not bother to define that.
            This Sophia had a mother?  Yes but who, where, when, why and IF SHE was a Sophia too… ‘is lost’.  It is, though, very well understood… by the oral tradition of this saga, that THIS Sophia; Compass Parker’s ‘wife’… was Sophia… number one… for the saga… of the Captain Merritt Kimball house.
            Compass Parker lived on a small boat with Sophia.  They traveled up and down the Maine coast ‘trading’.  Compass was engaged in trading… ‘molasses, slaves and rum’ ‘in the Salem – Boston area’.  He had nothing to do with molasses and slaves.  No one wanted those along the Maine coast.  They did want rum.  Compass quickly discerned this.  In his small boat, the most valuable and negotiable commodity he could offer for trade was… rum.  Silver and gold were useless on the coast of Maine.  No one wanted that; what could one do with gold or silver in the Maine woods?  Guns, powder and lead?  Yes a good trader but not as good as rum.  Rum… ‘you can drink’ in addition to ‘pay all debts’ with in addition to ‘buy anything with’.  A little boat filled with little kegs of… scrupulously watered down “rum” was the perfect trading cargo.  “EVERYONE” “wants it”.  By knowing where he is, was and planned to go (hence “Compass”), Captain Parker “KNEW” the Maine Coast “IN THE DARK” and he knew ALL of the trading options from ‘Indians’ to ‘pirates’ to ‘fishermen’ to ‘settlers’ to… ‘ministers’.  With greatest slight of hand skills, Compass Parker, in his boat with his wife… ‘came and went’.  When his kegs of rum were gone and his traded cargo “aboard”, he… slipped away, slipped into port, traded a new rum cargo and slipped away again, over and over… saying nothing, and writing nothing down… ever.  While doing this, Compass and Sophia had a daughter ...named Sophia… who …grew up on the boat.

*:  See the religion notes in Part Eleven to firm up ‘sort of’.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Summer Place - Part Eleven

Summer Place

Part Eleven

            With the Kimball brothers physical departure from their ancestral home accomplished nearly six weeks prior to the actual sale of that ancestral property to the ‘summer people’… my grandmother encountered her first logistical problem in gaining access to the estate to …FIND… and then purchase… for very nominal amounts of money… the ‘good’ antiques in that …ancestral home.  The problem was that once ‘off property’ it was hard to get the brothers; either one or both together, to return to the property to “do business”.  After several mixed result ‘late’, ‘forgot’, ‘slow’, ‘confused’ and simply ignored “appointments” my grandmother took matters into her own hands.
            She requested forcefully to be allowed to roam the old estate without the brothers there, find anything she wanted to buy, list that with the amount she’d pay for it, submit that to the brothers with payment in full attached and… take the things she found and wanted …with Charles’ help… “out” “then”.  The brothers agreed and were ‘very pleased’ for they not only sold “a lot” of the contents of the estate but …didn’t have to “go there” to do it.  This is not an unusual procedure.  To this day I, in estate content purchases, am regularly ‘left alone’, often ‘for weeks’ during a clean out.  The owners are always ‘happy’ they ‘don’t have to be there’.  For our story, this settlement …settled… frontier number one (Part Ten).
            Again I remind that this is in 1962.  And remind that therefore a VERY LARGE AMOUNT… including virtually all of the contents of the ‘out buildings’ and ‘everything’ that was ‘not old enough’ in the actual home… was not purchased or EVEN LOOKED AT other than a ‘quick eyeballed’.  When the day of the sale of the property came, the Captain Merritt Kimball family estate property was still jammed full of what today would be considered ‘rare’ and ‘valuable’ antiques.  My grandmother …with Charles at hand the whole time… did “go in every building and look at everything” “several times”.  As earlier described, the property’s outbuildings were numerous and large (Part Two).  They DID find and take out “whatever I wanted”.  She always said.
            The problem, for my grandmother, was that SHE was “not finding” what SHE wanted to find and “expected to be in there”.  This lead to two repetitive utterances by my grandmother I heard for the rest of her life.  One was a short utterance.  The second was a long ‘saga’ utterance.  The saga utterance varied considerably in length when uttered.  We will work with the full length of the sage utterance.  I was eight years old when these utterances began and was twenty-eight years old when they stopped.  My grandmother died when I was twenty-eight years old.  I still remember both utterances ‘clear as a bell’ ‘to this day’.  This brings us back to the first paragraph of the last chapter (Part Ten) and the usage of the words ‘exact obsession’, ‘two frontiers’, ‘dead eyes the foundation’ and ‘scripted pages of the parable’.  This is the second frontier and:  It is these word’s meaning.  It is the explanation that becomes the ‘it’ of the canyon of Maine romance, summer people and ‘summer place’.
            The first utterance is deceptively simple.  It was… and is… “I cannot find Sophia’s desk”.  It adjusted after the …property sale… to “never could find” or “never did find” “Sophia’s DESK”.  What desk?  One would think that ‘everyone’ would ‘know’, at the least, ‘what’ or ‘about’ the desk and the merit of ‘finding it’ by the way my grandmother relentlessly uttered this utterance.  As it actually stood… no one knew what she was talking about and… didn’t care.  This included ME.  Who cares about an old desk that they’ve never seen and only some old crone utters about every now and then.  Further, my grandmother had never ‘seen’ this “Sophia’s desk” herself.  She had only… vaguely… “heard” “it” “is in there”.  That was all she could ‘bring to the table’ except that it was supposed to be a ‘Tambour” desk… what ever that is.  The only thing that was cohesive about this utterance was THIS UTTERANCE.  For myself, ‘a desk’ came and went constantly in physical fact; just about as CONSTANTLY as I heard this utterance.  This utterance, behind it’s “deceptively simple”… is part of the “is” that …is the “it” (Part Ten).  This utterance desk is “Sophia’s desk:  She was the wife of Captain Merritt Kimball.  It was her desk that the captain bought for her.”  “In Salem”.
            The second utterance; the saga utterance, is based on the old china bowl my grandmother hid in her china cabinet.  Before I relate the saga, I open the door with the need to define the understood… by my grandmother… actual state of ‘religion’ on the coast of Maine during the colonial era (1607-1776).  This is a strong point in understanding “why” things are the way they are in Maine and …why… this does not include ‘summer people’ in their ‘summer places’.  This ‘actually lived’ state of religion is, for the most part, NOT known in… a short, concise and foundation grade statement  It is hard to find a short, concise and foundation grade statement.  I do have one:
            “The Puritan theocracy never took root in Maine.  The manners of the frontier persisted.  The people were not fond of churchgoing and they didn’t go no matter what the clergy and magistrates said or did.  They were in the habit of swearing when they felt like it, and they continued to do so.  Puritan laws to control drinking were disregarded.  Maine continued to be a land of personal liberty where the only active religion was that of human association and friendliness.  Together with New Hampshire and Vermont, it constituted a frontier fringe where the most practical kind of democratic equality lasted until long after the Revolution.”  Ernest Sutherland Bates, AMERICAN FAITH, Norton, New York, 1940, pg. 103.
            This remains active to this day.  This includes Rufus Kimball’s rants (Part Two).  It is why I used the word ‘parable’ (Part Ten).  It is why I used the word ‘frontier’.  This is an ‘unknown’ to ‘summer people’ in their ‘summer places’.  It does explain ‘why’ things ‘are the way they are’ ‘in Maine’.
            And why my grandmother hid the old china bowl in the back of her china cabinet.  It explains her ‘exact obsession’.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Summer Place - Part Ten

Summer Place

Part Ten

            To find my grandmother’s obsession…; her exact obsession… with the Captain Merritt Kimball family’s estate contents… and to examine that obsession… all the while watching with a critical eye the Kimball family’s sale of the family property to a ‘summer people’ to become, for eternity, a ‘summer place’… is not only a complex weave found on two frontiers… but also ‘dead eyes’ the foundation of my story’s purpose of …showing off… the old scripted pages of the… parable… of the “old sea captain  ****’s PLACE has “schooled me” in the very subtle trademark traditions of this whole… Maine… romance” (Part One) and… showing off… why there is forever a canyon of ‘can not be crossed’ depth between ‘summer people’ in their ‘summer place’ and ‘locals’ ‘in the village’ where “old sea captain  ****’s PLACE” “is”.
            The “is” …is the ‘it’ of all of this.
            The two frontiers are the Kimball family’s actions taken in the abandonment of the family estate (Part Two and Six) and my grandmother’s purloining and… in fact… HIDING of an old china bowl from this estate (Part Six).  If this appears to be a thickening thicket; a web weave upon web weave… it is and will require the taking of that notice to heart to be followed through to ‘the end’.  I, the writer who has been long “schooled me”, finds this whole not only an ‘obvious’ but also an ‘is’.  To pass this thick thicket, written out, to others… even including those other’s with strong personal interest and knowledge of ‘antiques’ is a… “well we will see… I guess”.  Here we go.
            When Rufus Kimball stood outside his bedroom door at the top of the front stairs that flowed downward to the front door… of the Captain Merritt Kimball estate… that is not what he saw.  He saw his “room” behind him and “downstairs”.  He had always “lived in my (his) room”.  Merritt, his older brother, had always “lived in his room” “across the hall”.  Their parents had always lived in their rooms (plural designating two ‘front bedrooms’ of …evolving with parental aging… usage).  The male parent; the seventh Merritt Kimball, had originally ‘had’ the current room of the eighth Merritt Kimball.  He ‘had that room’ until ‘he married’… Rufus and Merritt’s mother.  He then ‘moved’ to the ‘front rooms’.  Rufus very rarely had ever been in those rooms and, when in them, had only ‘been in there’ ‘for a minute’.  Merritt too.
            The sale of the estate, to Rufus, was a simple thing to understand.  “HE” was “SELLING THE HOUSE” and would therefore have to “MOVE” “OUT”… of “MY ROOM”.  What Rufus felt he “had” was “in my room”.  This did not included much of anything because… Rufus did not need much of anything because… the Captain Merritt Kimball estate already “had” “everything” he could possibly need.  BUT:  Since “they” were selling the place Rufus had become aware that “getting rid of” “a lot of it” after a “talk this all through” conversation here and there about the village “was” taking place.  Sort of.  The ‘sort of’ is the horrific …to antiquarians… reminder that in 1962… ‘a lot of it’ was NOT ‘antique’, ‘valuable’ or of ANY NOTICE to ANYONE… AT ALL.  For example, Rufus did not ‘notice’ the furniture “in my room”.  No one else did either.  Except my grandmother… who after a slightest glance… did not want “any of it… except that stand by the bed two dollars”.  Rufus wrote that down in pencil on his paper slip.  Charles carried the stand out of the estate and brought it to my grandmother’s barn.  What ever did happen to that ‘old sewing stand’.  If we are patient… we will find out?  Rufus and the ‘et al’ including my grandmother, simply did not notice the vast abundance of what today would be “valuable antiques”.  This ‘a lot of it’ simply was ‘left’ when the estate was ‘sold’ to the ‘summer people’.  The only person who did anything about ‘that’ was my grandmother who ‘bought everything I wanted” out of the “main house”.  She did not buy “much of anything” out of the TWELVE (!!!) ‘other buildings’.  The ‘a lot of it’ in those was ‘never touched’ even AFTER the ‘summer people’ “had owned the place” for …at least… a decade.
            Rufus’ solution to the ‘move out’ and ‘sale’ was to ‘get a room’ ‘in town’.  He “got a room” at Eunice Tissdale’s.  She ‘let rooms’.  Rufus was accommodated promptly with a room located exactly like his old room.  Eunice kept both front upstair bedrooms for ‘let’ to ‘people coming through’.  Rufus was fine with this ‘let’ room.  It was “just the same” as his old room, already had furniture in it and was “a little smaller I guess but nice”.  Too.  Rufus’ move out of the Captain Merritt Kimball estate …was done.  When he came downstairs from his new room Eunice “always has my breakfast ready”.  Rufus paid well for this care from Eunice but… to him… it was “not very much”.  He always said.  In fact Rufus and Eunice “always got along pretty well”.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Summer Place - Part Nine

Summer Place

Part Nine

            Returning to the center of the universe of this story, I remind the reader:

“Mr. Simon, whom my grandmother always claimed was actually Mr. Simony, a name that HE shortened….;  ‘Simony’ occurred to my grandmother from direct observation.  Mr. Simon came to my grandmother’s acquaintance through… a local minister.  …. She always served sherry to the local minister.”  (Summer Place – Part Three).

            As the dominoes of Mr. Simon ‘dropping dead’ in ‘the Maine woods’  tumbled down in the far, far greater worlds beyond the local village world-viewed-from-a-glass-of-sherry “oh won’t you!” of my grandmother… she found herself… should she have bothered to review… ‘low’ on the totem pole of Mr. Simon’s …simony.  Evidently… the New York minister ‘took care of everything’ and that everything was whisked away from anything to do with “MAINE; he has a SUMMER PLACE UP THERE”.  My grandmother “heard” “he died”.  “The poor man” and… “poor Mr. Simon” was my grandmother mantra for THE NEXT TWENTY YEARS.  She had no idea what had happened.  She did come to understand that Mr. Simon’s summer place continued to be that and was “kept” by “the family”.  My grandmother had “never seen his wife”.  This was Mr. Simon’s wife; the one Mr. Simon bought the antiques for.  The wife… Mr. Simon bought Sophia Kimball’s chest for.  No:  NOTHING more ever happened “there” (the summer place) that she “knew of”.
            In August, several months after selling Mr. Simon the Sophia Kimball chest, the local minister “came by”.  He, after seating and “oh won’t you” a glass of sherry, smoothly related the saga of Mr. Simon ‘dropping dead’ AS coming from the inner knowing source of his friend the New York minister.  As was usual… in the confident chamber of my grandmother’s sherry parlor, the local Minster gave a few more details… and a few more personal opinions of those details… then he ‘normally would’.  Plied with a third glass of sherry, MORE would have been coughed up BUT my grandmother was “not interested” in Mr. Simon anymore particularly when the coughing up turned to the “disaster” (my grandmother’s word) of Mr. Simon’s simony “drying up”.  Evidently simony was the right deduction by my grandmother and the New York minister’s ‘church’ was no longer on the simony list AND… this simony list had also come to include the local minister’s ‘church’ so the HE was having a “drying up”.  Too.
            “What am I going to do?” came from the local minister.  At that point my grandmother knew what SHE was going to do and number one was ‘no third glass of sherry’ , number two was ‘no money coming from me you old wretch’ and number three was ‘change the subject’.  To alleviate the reader’s concern I note that this ‘disaster’ was temporary and soon, soon enough that New York Minister had “the FAMILY is very GENEROUS” back up to the simony list’s standard and THAT did include “the church where the summer place” “is”.
            The subject change was easily done for the local Minister was NOT visiting because of Mr. Simon.  He was NOT visiting to… query after an obscure point of local history.  He was NOT visiting to ‘gossip’ about the village.  No and my grandmother “brought him around to his business”.  SHE had noted the crumpled paper bag the local minister carried and she knew that it contained his latest purloined plunder and SHE knew that he had oddly mentioned a ‘been by on a visit’ to “ANNIE HUTCHINS” who, it was well known to my grandmother “cleaned houses” “a little too very well” of the local well-to-do AND the rising number of …summer places.  Annie, my grandmother knew well too, was always adding income to her income by any means possible AND she knew well …too… that the minister was her most comfortable agent to realize the cash value of her… income added to income purloined plunder.  Purloined plunder became the minister’s purloined plunder and HE “scampers right over” “with it”.  What was purloined and WAS IT plunder was a stumbling for these two ‘wretches’ but the eye of my grandmother was awfully sharp and with no verbal coaching at all the paper bag on the local minister’s lap began to have “fished out” what proved to be the LONGEST ‘charm string’ my grandmother’s sharp eye… had ever seen.
            “A little more of the sherry?” she said and the minister’s glass DID come forward while the long string of ‘old buttons’ creeped off to the floor and around his black shoes.  “MUST BE eight FEET could it BE?” mentally communicated my grandmother to herself as she ‘poured’ from her decanter and casually eyed the button rope’s cascade.  Never bothering to feel along the edge of opportunity my grandmother “OH an old BUTTON ROPE” and took hold of its snake body to pull it back with her as she reset the decanter and …reset her butt back down in her …business chair.
            “A button rope you call it?” said the local minister as the wiggling serpentine form did …rope… away from him… never to return… and …dark in its Victorian colored cabling of sewn buttons, one upon the next ‘forever’, writhed into a two handed coil upon my grandmother’s lap.
            “FOOLISH old women MAKE THEM FOOLISH” said my grandmother herself making… direct eye contact with the minister at the second ‘foolish’.  He sherried back in his chair with complacent acceptance that HIS bewilderments of this object were now vaporized by a ‘knowing eye’ and he ‘game over’.  A lot-in-life roll over of “JUST TEN DOLLARS for ONE OF THOSE is ALL I’ll GIVE you” she blasted across the space between the two seated …adversaries… and did faint to gather up the coiled button serpent to RETURN IT to the paper bag holder who said “OH FINE” and gestured with his sherry free left hand that… there was no need for a ‘return’.
            Annie cleans the Moore estate Tuesdays an this being Wednesday so my grandmother said boldly that “HATTIE MOORE always said she HAD ONE her GRANDMOTHER made”.
            “She SAID it was Hattie’s” said the minister while denoting a … rubber banded roll of money appear on top of the button rope in my grandmother’s lap.  A ten dollar bill bridged the space between the two.  The rubber banded money wad vanished.  My grandmother settled the coiled button rope… on top of an old brass bucket filled with kindling sitting between her and the fireplace.  She then turned her attention to the minister and “getting rid of him”.  Here, at this moment, began the usage of the mantra “The poor man.  Poor Mr. Simon” that my grandmother would forever utter EVERY time Mr. Simon was ever mentioned within her hearing.
            The biggest feature of this meeting was what was NOT discussed.  Sophia Kimball’s chest of drawers was not mentioned.  This is because my grandmother assumed that Mr. Simon’s wife “has it in their summer place”.  It was unknown to all …except Charles… that the chest was actually stored under an old tablecloth in the hay in the BARN of the summer place.  Charles never ever gave THAT knowledge ‘any thought’.  Mr. Simon’s family knew noting of the chest.  The local minister knew nothing of the chest.  The New York minister knew nothing of the chest.  All that ever came of the chest for the next twenty years was the brief lament toned saga repeated by my grandmother of “selling Sophia Kimball’s chest to Mr. Simon” and a “they (therefore) have it in there (their summer place)”.  After twenty years (1962-1982) THAT ceased.
            As for the local minister’s purloined “what do you do with it?” charm string, it was the very best ‘eight feet long’ Victorian Maine made ‘button rope’ my grandmother “ever owned”.  Charm strings, given an aura of mystical being… particularly when they are ‘from Maine”, ‘old’, dating from the Civil War, preciously hand gathered (the buttons) and hand sewn by a “foolish old woman” with HER forever gathered and found ‘clutches’ of ‘good buttons’ that here included the ‘old uniform buttons’ from the family’s Civil War soldiers… visiting foreigners gift buttons, sea captain’s gifts of exotic buttons and… a regular handful of “train to Boston shopping trip” buttons…:  This ‘charm string’ included the black velvet embroidered tag …crumpled and frayed at its head… stating “Ada Moore (*****), Maine.  Began July 4th 1852 Finished (unfinished with no date)”.  My grandmother sold this charm string to the judge from Portland for sixty dollars on his next visit… that included two bottle of sherry as “gifts for you”.  The judge gave it to his wife.  She gave it to her daughter.  That daughter’s daughter still has it.  It is not for sale and continues to be “the best charm string anyone’s ever seen”.  “They say”.
            My grandmother did not care about any of this.  She was then currently obsessed with “the antiques” in the Captain Merritt Kimball’s farm “being sold to summer people”.  THAT was the most important activity of my grandmother in that summer in 1962.  We must returned to this.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Summer Place - Part Eight - B

Summer Place

Part Eight - B

            By the time Jack had paddled Doctor Twaddle up the lake to the campsite of the medical emergency… it was dark… and… Mr. Simon was dead.
            Doctor Twaddle sat in the front of the canoe.  He occasionally touched his paddle to the lake water.  Most of the time he held on to it as it rested sideways across the canoe.  Doctor Twaddle spent most of the trip up the lake “Just looking around; NICE evening, JACK”.  This did not bother Jack.  This was the way he paddled a canoe most of the time:  a ‘fat sport’ ‘sat’ ‘up front’ and he paddled ‘up the lake’.  They ‘talked’ but Jack said little.  Between the sport and Jack was ‘the gear’ in the ‘center’ of the canoe.  Always, just before ‘shoving off’ Jack would, quickly and without explanation, move the two front ‘sacks’ of ‘gear’ to the rear of the pile… nearer to himself.  This was to …try… and ‘balance the load’ for Jack was always the lightest thing in the canoe and… the fat sport up front was the heaviest.  This shift of gear never worked ‘perfectly’ but it did make Jack feel better as he “plowed up the lake” with Doctor Twaddle.  Additionally, Jack had moved the larger “lunch” box back too.
            Mr. Simon was “dead” when he first hit the ground.  He “lingered” Gerry said but in fact had died “right off” and “before Jack was out of sight” going down the lake in the canoe.  “No bother” was made to fetch him back.  Gerry had been through all of this before.  The other guide; Jim, had two.  He and Gerry wrapped Mr. Simon’s body in a “canoe canvas”, tied him off and “tucked him” in a “cool spot” under some young furs.  And waited… for the sports to “wake up” (meaning to desire to do something).
            Then they took the four sports across the lake fishing.  “No one will bother him” Gerry assured the sports about leaving Mr. Simon’s body unattended.  When they came back… in two canoes each with a guide “plowing” in the back… it was “suppertime”.  The guides made the fire for cooking, a bigger “campfire” they called it and “supper”.  After “supper” it was getting dark.  The guides “kept the campfire up”.  Jack had not returned with the Doctor.  “He ain’t in any hurry” Jim said about the doctor.  “Yup” said Gerry.
            When it was nearly pitch black to the average person, Jack bumped the canoe on to the lake shore in front of the camp after Doctor Twaddle had “HALLLOWED” several times in the darkness toward “A FIRE”.  Jack figured the Doctor’s little silver flask had come out of his pocket a couple times “after it got dark” on the lake.  The Doctor, told promptly by Gerry that Mr. Simon was dead and “his body’s over there” with a gesture toward …pitch black Maine forest… said nothing and… joined the sports at the large campfire.  Jack, Jim and Gerry pulled the canoe up on shore.  They took Doctor Twaddle’s gear to the ‘sport camp’ cabin.  Jack took the large lunch box over to the campfire, opened the box up and…:
            Doctor Twaddle paid no attention to this at all and was engrossed in familiar conversation with the sports.  Jack stood there above the open box.  Suddenly Doctor Twaddle who appear to have had no notice of Jack and the box said “EAT UP JACK” and… never missing a beat… returned to conversation with the sports.  Jack did “eat up”.  Jim and Gerry DID inspect the lunch box and DID “help Jack get rid of the cookies.  Too.”  After eating, Jack went to bed in ‘the guide tent” beside the cabin.  He was asleep right away but did notice that the sports and the doctor stayed up around the campfire “pretty late”.
            The next morning at first light Jack was up and… with Jim and Gerry… quietly put Mr. Simons body in the center of a canoe.  Then they started a fire and made coffee.  And waited.  After a little more dawn, Doctor Twaddle came out of the cabin and joined them at the fire.  “WELL I went to the EDGE of the BRIDGE but I DIDN’T CROSS.” he said.  “SOME OF THEM WERE ACROSS when I got TO the bridge.” he said.  “BE A LITTLE SLOW this morning”.
            Doctor Twaddle went off behind the cabin and came back with his hair combed.  He was offered and drank a cup of coffee.  When his cup was refilled he looked over at the canoe with Mr. Simon’s body in it.  “You got all his GEAR too?” he said to Gerry.
            “We got it” said Gerry.
            “Your taking ME DOWN, Jack?”
            “Yes sir.” said Jack.
            “HIS GUNS?
            “We have them; ROD case,  REEL bag, shotgun…, rifle and a pistol.  In the back with Jack.” said Gerry.
            “I’ll speak to BEN.  Shouldn’t BE… WELL… HE WILL KNOW.  JACK?  You ready?”.
            Jack retrieved Doctor Twaddle’s gear bag that was just inside the sport cabin door.  He put that, too, in the rear of the canoe.  “NOT MUCH ROOM for your FEET, JACK” said Doctor Twaddle. “Good thing that lunch box got ATE.” He continued while looking down at the leather pistol case sticking up from Mr. Simon’s gear.  Fifteen minutes later Jack and Doctor Twaddle were “out of sight” ‘down the lake’.
            At Old Ben’s store Pete and Jack put Mr. Simon’s body in “the cold hut” off behind the store.  Doctor Twaddle went in to speak with Old Ben.  Before he walked over to the store he stood over the gear from the canoe.  He picked up the rod case and the reel bag.  He opened the reel bag and looked at the real.  He looked the rod case over.  “I’m gonna take these along with me Jack.  I’ll speak to Ben about it”.  Jack said nothing.
            After a few minutes beyond moving Mr. Simon’s body, the Doctor returned to the canoe and the gear.  Jack, waiting, had picked up the pistol case, opened it and was looking over the pistol inside it.  Doctor Twaddle looked at the pistol too.
            “Jack.  That’s not the one for you.  The shotgun Jack.  I’ll take it up to Ben and tell him.”
            “That.. but THAT’S the GOOD ONE sir.
            “That’s right Jack and you earned it.”
            “But… GERRY.”
            “I’ll take care of it Jack.  I’ll give it to BEN.  YOU pick it up from BEN when you come back down.  Gerry.  He’ll KNOW what I say”.
            “But… THAT… Doctor.”
            “Jack.  You listen to me.  The rest of your life you’ll have that shotgun.  The rest of your life every time you SEE that gun you’ll remember THIS.  You’ll remember ME saying THIS.  Don’t be ah FUSSY.  Listen to me.  You earned the gun fair and square.  That sport would want only YOU to have it.”  With that Doctor Twaddle picked up the shotgun case and took it up to Ben’s store.  When he came back he looked down at the gear.  “PROBABLY… should TAKE that PISTOL TOO.  Probably wish I HAD IT to BLOW MY BRAINS OUT after I finish talking to THE MINISTER.” he said.
            Jack looked at him with query.
            “I’s suppose to CONTACT some MINISTER about the SPORT.  Ben says so.  BEEN UP HERE BEFORE WITH HIM.  I GUESS.  …MINISTER.  As if I want to CONTACT a MINISTER!” he said and then smiled at Jack.  “Put all this up in BEN’S Jack.” He said gesturing to the gear. “GET that other lunch box too.  That will get you back up the lake.  Your done here.  I’ll go make Old Ben call that MINISTER.  “WHERE DO WE SEND THE BODY?” we say to him.  Good work Jack:
           “Now Jack.  When you come down to town you bring the gun along.  We’ll test it… next month.  Then you can take those daughters of mine up on the mountain for me and let’em pick blueberries.  And stay for dinner when you GET BACK, Jack.”
           Fifty years and ten months later  (March, 2013) I spoke to Jack’s grandson about the shotgun.  Jack is sixty-seven years old.  His grandson reported that not only does he still “use” the shotgun but “won’t let anyone else even TOUCH IT”.  I have actually touched the shotgun but that was about thirty-five years ago before Jack “knew better” the grandson says… Jack says.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Summer Place - Part Eight - A

Summer Place

Part Eight - A

            When “Young Jack” Lambert reached the bottom of the lake… after paddling ‘down the lake’ from ‘up the lake’ in a canoe… alone… as fast as he could… he told Old Ben, in Old Ben’s lakeside store, what his mission was.  Old Ben said nothing to Young Jack but walked over to the open back door of the store behind him and yelled for “PETE” to come in.  Pete Smet did come right in and Old Ben told him to “take the truck” and “drive Young Jack in to town to Doc. Twaddle’s”.  A minute later Pete and Young Jack were in the truck headed for ‘town’.  That ‘town’ was “at least” an hour away.  It was longer because Pete driving Old Ben’s old truck… put another hour on the ride.  They did get there and Pete dropped Young Jack off at Doctor Twaddle’s.  Young Jack had told Pete what his mission was but Pete didn’t care.  “I don’t know ANY of THOSE PEOPLE, Jack” is all he said about the crisis.  He then grilled Young Jack in obsessive detail about the little coves along the upper end of the lower lake… where he (Pete) knew that Young Jack “pretty much knows where every fish IS in those little pockets” for the rest of the trip.
            Young Jack knocked on the front door of Doctor Twaddle’s and was let in by Doc. Twaddle’s oldest daughter …who just happened to be the same age as Young Jack.  Usually Young Jack, if  he ever had the rare occasion to go to Doctor Twaddle’s home and office, went to the side shed door leading to the kitchen… through the old summer kitchen.  This time… as he was on an emergency medical visit, he knew that he properly must go in that front door.  The oldest daughter must have seen him hesitating after getting out of Old Ben’s truck, a truck she would know well, for she opened the front door very quickly.  Young Jack directly said he needed to  speak with her father, the doctor, “right away”.
            “Of course Jack” she said knowing full well the having Young Jack get out of Old Ben’s truck and come to the front door could only mean that there was “trouble” “up on the lakes”.  She led jack into the living room from the front hall and parlor then right through that room into the dining room where Doctor Twaddle sat at the head with a just-started-to-serve dinner plate before him.  Two other daughters sat on one side of the table, Mrs. Doctor Twaddle sat at the opposite head and… the oldest daughter’s place was waiting for her on the doctor’s left side of the table.  Young Jack stood by the Mother’s right and spoke concisely to Doctor Twaddle:
            “We gotta a SPORT whose lost his HEART Doc.  Gotta COME UP right away WE NEED YOU.” He said.
            “Heart?” said Doctor Twaddle.
            “GERRY say IT IS, Doc.”
            “Gerry?  Good.”
            Young Jack stood there looking at the Doctor.  The Doctor reached over and lifted a serving bowl of mashed potatoes.  He looked up at Young Jack.  “SIT yourself DOWN Jack WE WILL GET YOU FED FIRST and THEN GO.”  The oldest daughter was already moving a chair in next to her chair and the mother said something to the daughter next to her and she vanished into the kitchen only to return quickly with a plate, a napkin and …some ‘silverware’ that …Young Jack knew was “real silver”.  This daughter put these down by wedging between Jack and the oldest daughter.  She did such in a way so as to over emphasize that the space she needed to ‘set table’ was being cramped due to the oldest daughter… “standing TOO CLOSE to JACK”.
            “I am NOT.” the oldest daughter said.
            Jack still had his attention on Doctor Twaddle.  “SIT DOWN BOY.” Doctor Twaddle said and then paused while still looking at Jack.  “YOU MUST EAT.  You haven’t eaten anything ALL DAY I bet.  SIT JACK.  We’ll leave soon enough.  Long trip BACK up there”.
            Jack still hesitated although his place at the table was set and the oldest daughter had now sat down in her place between him and the doctor.  The Mother took over:
            “Now Jack EAT.  You’ve FETCHED the Doctor.  HE knows WHAT TO DO NOW.  If he says EAT… you eat.  The Doctor SAYS SO.  You can’t go all the way UP that lake on an empty stomach.”
            Jack sat down.  The oldest daughter shifted in her chair a little.  Jack looked at the Doctor who was now passing the mashed potatoes to the oldest daughter.  Steam rose from the top of the dish.  Jack “am pretty hungry” he heard himself say.
            “JACK.  You leave it to ME now.” said the Doctor to him.  “We’ll be up there soon enough.  When they loose their heart there isn’t much I can do.  What am I gonna do with a half dead man in a canoe, Jack.”
            The Doctor ate.  The daughter’s ate.  The mother ate but between questions to Young Jack.  Young Jack ate but between answering the mother’s questions.  Through this conversational process everyone at the table “FOUND OUT” that:
            One man in a group of five men, all from New York City and who know each other… have gone up the lake and over to “lower Richardson” fishing with three guides in four canoes.  Jack, at seventeen years old, is the youngest guide and party member.  The other two guides the Doctor ‘knows WELL:  If Gerry says the SPORT lost his HEART, he’s LOST HIS HEART.”  This also told the Doctor that “there’s nothing I can do Gerry knows it that’s why they sent YOU down.  NO NEED to HURRY”.
            That sport had “gone out behind the cabin and was splitting WOOD”.  Then it was quiet but nobody NOTICED.  Then one of them sports FOUND HIM DOWN.  He was alive when I LEFT.” Young Jack reported.
            “Whiskey?” asked the Doctor.
            “Yup” said Young Jack.
            “WHISKEY?” said the Mother to Young Jack.
            “NOT JACK!” said the Doctor right away.  “The SPORTS DRINK IT.”
            “Oh.  I’m sorry Jack.  Of course not YOU, Jack”.
            The oldest daughter shifted in her chair again.
            “They drink the whiskey and then try to SPLIT WOOD.  Gets ‘em EVERYTIME.  They should just SIT THERE and watch JACK split the wood.  But they never do.  Kills ‘em every time.” said the Doctor.
            “Been catching much?” the Doctor asked Jack as he pushed his plate forward to the head of his place.  The others hadn’t finished.  Jack paced the daughters well and double forked his “have some MORE” mother admonitioned plate full to finish ‘plate clean fair and square’.
            Before they left in the Doctor’s car… that he made Jack drive “not too fast Jack”… the mother put TWO boxes of “lunches” on the back seat.  “TWO” she said to the Doctor because “JACK will eat everything in the BIG BOX but your gonna need something to EAT when you GET BACK down the LAKE”.  It took a little over an hour to drive back up to Old Ben’s store.  “Not too fast Jack” the Doctor kept saying.  Jack saw that Doctor had his own little shiny silver whiskey flask too… just like all the sports did.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Summer Place - Part Seven

Summer Place

Part Seven

            Before Mr. Simon ‘knew it’… he’d been ‘UP the stair’ and… back ‘DOWN the stair’ with this whiskeyed voyage including a STARE… at an old painting?  It; this painting, DID seem to be an OLD painting but… to Mr. Simon’s art eye… it did not seem to be a ‘good’ painting.  That is… it did not seem to Mr. Simon to be an old painting that… “my wife would like”.  That criteria of ‘good’ ‘painting’ WAS Mr. Simon’s ‘golden rule’ of, well… any and ALL ‘art’.  He …sort of… started a broken stammer either about or, at the least, TOWARD the ‘old painting’… hanging on a very seedy old wall above a … very seedy (?) old bed in a …seedy (?) old bedroom… somewhere “upstair” in this complex weave of an old house that “this woman who sells antiques lives in she’s very knowledgeable about local history you know”.  While about the effort to stammer, Mr. Simon’s gaze upon the old oil painting was diverted… thereby diverting his stammer… by my grandmother’s ‘neat & tidy neurotic action’ (?) of … picking up a neatly folded… very neat, tidy and CLEAN… woman’s sweater off the top of a …little chest of drawers …hidden against the wall behind the glare of light next to the bedroom widow… that she re-folded and… by bending over …WITH HER BUTT OFF TO THE SIDE so as to ‘show’ the WHOLE front of the little chest… and opening the third drawer down then putting the sweater into that open drawer and …slowly…softly… closing that drawer while saying nothing and then… standing up right.  Mr. Simon blinked twice while …not quite staring… at this little chest.

            My grandmother noted the… old fat trout… of Mr. Simon and his RISE out of the whiskeyed darkness in this …pastoral mountain stream POOL after…her CAST of the sweater-into-drawer that was intentionally a… DEEP, rich, poignant and womanly raptured GRACE upon this pool’s surface.  Mr. Simon had taken the bait.  My grandmother did NOT set the hook.  She let Mr. Simon swish his tail and:
            Back ‘down the stair’ with SHE ahead and HE behind so SHE had the whiskeyed glass in hand and was COMING BACK with its fresh ice cube JUST AS Mr. Simon had seated himself and gazed to that empty wet ringed spot.  Plop down went the glass, pop went the dirty bottle’s cork, DASH went a ‘whiskeyed’ and …slip… went my grandmother’s butt into the ‘her usual chair’ ‘across’ from ‘a customer’.  Mr. Simon sipped, looked about and… slowly set the freshened glass upon its old wet ring.
             “By the WAY I THANK YOU for VIEWING my OLD painting.” My grandmother began as her… first pull UPWARD on the bait-in-mouth line …that was ‘straight down’ into the pool’s darkness.
            Mr. Simon looked at her and focused.  He felt a TUG?  Not quite THAT but a touch awkward of a feeling to be back seated with nothing but a jumbled quandary as to WHAT …that (upstair) voyage was all about… ‘anyway’.  “Anyway” began to …let line play out:
            “THAT was Sophia’s CHEST OF DRAWERS, Mr. Simon.”
            “MY SWEATER CHEAT.  Was OWNED BY Sophia Kimball.  Captain Merritt Kimball’s wife; Sophia.  It was her chest.  Our first LADY of the VILLAGE.  Mr. Simon.”
            Now right here, to understand concisely, my grandmother is at a “I do as I say”.  That is a very simple sales procedure… that she taught me (to say it in the least).  The configuration obviously involves the local history and the “in the very subtle trademark traditions of this whole… Maine… romance” of that and their application to an, in fact, ‘good antique’; the chest of drawers.  That ‘this and these’ I have been reminding of …to the point of harping upon… for those parting for inspection the local and summer people ‘schooled me’ differentiations.  THIS and THESE should be an ‘obvious’ in play here.  It is the …application process… I wish to purvey as a ‘to understand concisely’ ‘I do and say’:
            My grandmother does the ‘fill in the blanks’ of the transaction.  Mr. Simon, the world class New York City stockbroker-deal maker-trade grabber ‘on the floor’ of THAT floor is ‘fine’.  Here found a little whiskeyed in an old Maine home of an old Maine woman with a “I think I saw” “a something?” “I think” ‘buying antiques’:  Well… he CAN use the help.  My grandmother’s working theory was to simply plow ahead on the pond surface and soon enough the old fat trout will be ‘netted’ (sold to).  She goes off namby-pamby filling in the blank spots well ahead of Mr. Simon’s chance to quandary and DOES KNOW THAT… after a tug or two… Mr. Simon (and a any customer et al) becomes receptively pleased and docile with this… progress.  We resume:
            “It WAS her chest AND I bought it from the BROTHERS.”
            “The Kimball brothers.  A little dull witted, Mr. Simon.  You KNOW what I mean.
            “Yes Mr. Simon. They would sell their MOTHER unless advised to NOT do so.
            “This is the Captain Kimball house?”
            “Yes Mr. Simon and SOPHIA’S ROOM was CLOSED UP.”
            “Closed up?”
            “When she FINALLY DIED.  It was CLOSED UP.”
            “Her room?”
            “Yes and my SWEATER CHEST was IN the ROOM.”
            “Closed up in the room?”
            “Yes but I BOUGHT IT.  I KNEW it was IN THERE.  Old Climber’s FATHER told me.  BOTH of them KNOW their antiques, Mr. Simon.  THE FATHER was fixing the CEILING.  He was WALL MAN, Mr. Simon:  PLASTER… if he WASN’T PLASTERED HIMSELF if you know what I mean, Mr. Simon.
            Mr. Simon, enraptured with the story’s start, nodded quickly so as to …keep the story flowing forth.
            “He TOLD ME about it IN THERE.  TRIED to BUY IT he claimed but I am SURE the brothers were never MOVED ALONG.  Climber always MENTIONS IT but he doesn’t KNOW that I’ve bought it.  NOW… don’t you go TELLING ON ME, Mr. Simon.
            “Telling on you? I would NEVER be TELLING on YOU… about that little chest?
            “IT IS LITTLE isn’t it a CHARM, Mr. Simon.”
            “Why yes it IS… just that; A CHARM.”
            “My I said to myself:  So perfect and SO CLEAN.  Just right for my SWEATERS, Mr. Simon”.
            “I SEE that is quite TRUE.”
            “Sophia.  She would DELIGHT to know that I HAVE FILLED IT SO.”
            “Sophia would?”
            “Yes Mr. Simon.  Sophia would WISH that chest to go to the FIRST LADY of the VILLAGE.
            “She would?”
            “It would have been BUILT right here in the village.  CAPTAIN MERRTT KIMBALL had it made for her after their WEDDING.  Locally made I am sure for I’ve HAD another one YEARS BACK but just as FINE; the GOOD lines and SMALL size.  VERY HARD TO FIND, Mr. Simon.  It IS… 1790’s I’m SURE.  HE was at SEA after THAT.  But at their start it was just the FIRST HOUSE.  Small Colonial CAPE.  YOU can still SEE IT in the old ELL.
            All Mr. Simon did, sitting forward in his chair, was just look expectantly at my grandmother.  She continued… at full throttle.
            “MY TROUBLE …that it took to GET AT IT in there.  Why.  I WAS YEARS at that bedroom.  Finally I turned the KEY to the door myself.
            “They let you into the room?”
            “They couldn’t STOP me, Mr. Simon.  Enough was enough so I really just BROKE that door down.  MONTHS it was.  No:  Years.”
            “And you say this was a Sophia’s chest?”
            “NOTHING but finery EVER comes from Sophia.  YOU can see it with your EYE Mr. Simon.  I SAW your EYE upon Sophia’s chest.  I’ve seen your eye at work before Mr. Simon.  You must know THAT.”
            “Well… I.’
            “YES.  And THAT is your GOOD TASTE, Mr. Simon.  Yes you are right SHE would LOVE the chest.  For her sweaters.  Well.  Actually.  I suppose she doesn’t WEAR many sweaters in the SUMMER.”
            “Oh she’s ALWAYS wearing sweaters.  In the Evening.  Always wears them.
            “Yes of COURSE, Mr. Simon; the EVENING!  Well I suppose it will STILL  BE to DEAR for you.  I had to pay so much, you know; to those BROTHERS.”
            “So much?”
            “I will for eight hundred dollars”.
            “You paid for the chest?”
            “No… to sell it to you, Mr. Simon.  That’s too dear isn’t it.”
            “Eight hundred dollars?  For the Captain Kimball chest?
            “Sophia Kimball’s chest.  The Captain Merritt Kimball house.  He …had it MADE here in the VILLAGE for HER.
            “And what kind of chest IS IT?”
            “Chippendale, Mr. Simon.”
            “Chippendale?  Mr. Chippendale?  He made it?”
            “No, Mr. Simon.  THE STYLE is Chippendale.”
            “Mr. Chippendale’s style”.
            “Well yes.  I suppose that will do, Mr. Simon”.
            “My wife will LOVE IT.
            “Oh she will INDEED, Mr. Simon.
            “Her BIRTHDAY is NEXT MONTH.
            “Oh a very nice GIFT INDEED, Mr. Simon.  But again Mr. Simon:  Be careful about mentioning it TOO much around”
            “Oh no never.  I’ll hide it right away in the barn.  She’ll never see it until her birthday.”
            “I can get my man Charles to move it for you.”
            “He must put it in the barn.  No one must see it.  Cover it up, tell him.”
            “I will Mr. Simon”
            Charles did bring the chest to the barn after… being sure that Mr. Simon would be there when he did.  Together they carried the little chest in behind a tier of hay and set it down against an interior wall on the first floor of the barn.  They put the old table cloth that Charles had used to cover the chest back over the chest.  Charles gave the table cloth to Mr. Simon.  Mr. Simon paid Charles “very well” for he help and the table cloth.  Charles was very pleased and even moved a few bales of hay around the chest to “hide it”  They looked over their work and left the barn together.  No one would see that chest back there hidden in the hay.  No one would see it… for fifty years.  (1962-2012).