Thursday, May 30, 2013

Summer Place - Part Twenty - B

Summer Place

Part Twenty - B

            I knew the sunglasses going on and off the hair was trouble.  It was a sort of subconscious physical early warning signal… the dyed blond hair included… that expressed the inner turmoil skipping to confusion that the “I” of this “Jenny” was NOT fully in control of the ‘antiques’… because, most simply, she does NOT know ‘what she’s doing’ AND… is used to having it understood without question… even from her inner self… that she DOES know ‘what she’s doing’.  The glasses were off again:  A train is coming into a station?  Fast?
            Meanwhile and deep within the micro-micro seconds taking place the fanatic ghosts from the widow’s walk above …didn’t shut-up either and:  AND:  Before I could base line my normal of  ‘get the good antiques and get out’ in a ‘where’s the door?’ business as usual queue… they were instant messaging me with more deep-deepest thoughts from way, way, way long ago that whispered, hissed and squeaked “THE CHEST”.  Actually… I heard “A chest” and …went back to being eight years old again …WITHIN these micro-micro seconds… only to pop out the other side of these micros with a “huh” to self, head raise and ‘rooms before me’ scan that showed only what I’d seen already; sparsely furnished rooms with no antiques but having ‘they took that’ blank spaces hither-thither throughout “huh” again “if there was a chest someone took it?”.  This whole micro-micro within micro… micro vanished as ‘Jenny’ raised her off sunglass to a return-to-hair base move and …in dead earnest direct …ness… said:
            “How much are you going to sell my dirty dish for?”
            A statement …or a question… I, from within… ‘worked with’.  NOW.
            Now…:  I am in the Maine woods a lot; the Maine forest.  IN the forest I see ‘animals’.  One type of animal I see is porcupines.  They see me.  They run away and…:  They climb a tree.  The day before this ‘Jenny’ antiquarian moment I had been in the woods on a trail and come up on a younger porcupine ahead on the trail.  It saw me, left the trail, went to a midsize popular tree and climbed it rapidly in six to eight foot bursts.  By the time I got to the tree the porcupine was twenty-four feet up and still climbing.  I stood there looking at it and… after a while with it going higher, continued on my way along the trail.  The porcupine would come down now… and scamper away.  ‘Coming down’ for a porcupine in a tree is harder than going up.  By the time it is near the bottom, it is tired of gripping and doing that gripping going down so ‘drops off’ at the bottom.  At four feet up.  At six feet up.  I’ve even see them drop at ten or twelve feet up …especially if they sense a pistol is coming.  ONCE, I watched an ‘a pistol is coming’ twelve foot drop by a ‘treed by a dog’ porcupine.  The porcupine dropped dead on the dog’s head… and face, breaking the fall.  He rolled off onto the ground, rose and… scampered away.  The dog didn’t go after the porcupine but instead started howling.  The pistol didn’t get the porcupine because of the dog’s ‘started howling’ …from the face full of quills.  The whole ‘hunt’ ended right then with the dog having to be corralled, trucked and… ‘taken to the vet’.  I have learned from watching porcupines ‘drop’.  The daring twelve foot drop could be a painful fall, result in being ‘pistoled’… but it also might… do the trick for a ‘scamper away’.  I applied a twelve foot porcupine drop to ‘Jenny’s’ ‘a statement… or a question’.
            Coming down the tree with the platter under my arm and sensing the pistol coming fast, I dropped:
            Taking the platter out from my armpit I turned the dirty front side toward myself at arms length and, surveying it, said “WELL… I’d like to say I’ll GET A THOUSAND for it.  Thousand DOLLARS.  (pause, I look toward Jenny and turn the platter to her, pause again and then reverse it to be before me again…):  “BUT… WELL…maybe EIGHT.  HUNDRED.”  (Pause and I turn the platter back at ‘Jenny’.  She’s looking at it AND ME.).  I continue “WELL…. OK… SIX HUNDRED?”.  (Pause with ‘Jenny’s’ sunglasses returned to the hair but not released).  “FOUR?” I say.  (‘Jenny’s’ face blanks and her hand starts to move the sunglasses off the hair again).  “TWO?” I say with hard drive.  Then:  “OK… ONE?” I say with a wincing facial and twisting the dirty platter toward her.  The sunglasses are off and in her hand coming forward toward the platter).  “OK:  I tell you what:  I’LL SELL THIS BACK TO YOU RIGHT NOW… for fifty bucks”.  I say this… presenting the dirty platter right to the sunglasses in hand arm.  This arm, with the sunglasses in hand, retreats.  There’s a pause in motion.  Then the sunglasses go back to the hair.  Another pause.  I hold the platter out.  I flex my eyebrows at ‘Jenny’.  She sees that and reaches for the sunglasses again.
            “I think there’s more of those dishes down in the barn.” she says.  “We used to play picnic with them down there in the hay.  They’re probably still down there.  Maybe you’d want those too.”  The sunglasses come off her head and forward in her hand again.  Assertively forward.  I… put the platter back in my armpit.  I had just done a twelve foot drop, then rolled off and …scampered away… just like a porcupine.  ‘Jenny’ didn’t pistol me but I kept my eye on those sunglasses just in case.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer Place = Part Twenty - A

Summer Place

Part Twenty - A

            There was… and there is… no fourth floor at Mr. Simon’s summer place.  So how could an old curtain ‘fall-back’?  There are two floors equal and then a third floor upon whose windows are only three-fourths the size of the floors below.  No fourth floor?
            Yes… a ‘fourth floor’?  Yes; a widow’s watch; a little hexagonal room dead centered on top of the ‘it all’ of this… middle of the architectural pack of Maine classic ‘Federal’ style home, ‘circa 1816-1822’… according to the local… ‘historical society’s notes’.  There were no old curtains hanging in the widow’s watch …that year ago today almost ‘just before Memorial Day weekend’ that I…
            Was “invite you” (their words) to “a walk through” (my words to them; Mr. Simon’s spawn).  I was not at all in the Mr. Simon …clarity… that I should have been when I first arrived …there.  There had been the appointment-to-make call and query from a “Jennifer Hanzelbach call me Jenny”.  A brief “I-- HAVE ANTIQUES – AM SELLING HOUSE – SELLING ANTIQUES – WOULD YOU BUY THEM (actually intoned as ‘you will buy them”)” from her.  The “we” “will walk through” “and then talk” from me.  Then a “cancel that appointment I’m getting my hair done”.  So a new appointment.  Then a cancel that one “I HAVE TO GO TO PORTLAND TO PICK UP MY SON HE’S FLYING UP (from New York) (for Memorial Day)”.  We rescheduled to the ‘next day’ “THANK YOU”.
            I stepped out of the truck, looked at the widow’s watch, walked to the front door, was admitted by a twenty something ‘fine young man’, escorted to the living room where ‘Jenny’ stood waiting.  I was thirty seconds early so that negated that sort of bad start.  She… was a little ‘big sister’ older than me, shorter than me, dressed summer preppy and had her sunglasses stuck up in her dyed blond hair.  These she took out of the hair and held in her hand while she did a quick down and up with her eyes of me.  Quick and evidently satisfied, she returned the sunglasses to her hair as we …shake hands.  I, tied, sport jacketed and Brooks Brothers collar roll above the go anywhere in Maine combat conditions Bean Boots… past her ‘visual’.  I guess.
            “Maybe” I said.
            “I buy antiques.”
            “Not used furniture.”
            “Oh.  Well.  These ARE antiques.”
            “We will walk through quickly and then talk.”
            We did.  The first floor was… living areas… for a large transient summer people families coming and going… that is ‘closed up’ for ‘the rest of the year’.  The second floor was… bedrooms for adults surrounding a very new bathroom that was… probably one of the finest bathrooms in the village.  The third floor was… once a two centuries ago the servants quarters (including ‘slaves’)… but NOW a kiddy floor (under age thirty) of crummy cots in small & crummy 1950’s rooms surrounding a center crummy room with crummy old furniture that all faced a brand new flat screen television and …had a toilet room with shower ‘off of it’.  The forth floor was an attic creep to the …latched door… to the widow’s watch.  I unlatched the door and peeked in.  Then closed and latched it.  “No antiques” I said to myself.
            “No antiques.” I said to Jenny.
            “But.  All the furniture IS OLD”.
            “That is true.” I said.
            “You are not interested?”
            “Yes I am not interested.”
            “In anything?”
            “You have old used furniture.  I seek antiques.”
            “But that dry sink is old.” She said gesturing toward a… 1950’s cobbled together from old wood and then having its surface unified by heavy handed sanding, beating with chains and ‘varnishing’.
            “Ah.  It’s fifties.  Not old.” I said robotically.
            “Not old?  It’s ALWAYS been there.”
            I looked at the sink.  It had a copper planter with a nearly dead plant in that planter.  The planter sat down in the well of the ‘dry sink’.
            “It’s made-up of old wood.  1950’s.  Very common.  It’s not antique.” I said and walked over to the dry sink.  The near dead plant was bone dry but the planter had been recently ‘watered’…meaning that morning… just before I arrived.  I didn’t care because my eye caught a classic antique blue color beneath the planter.  My eye searched further… fast.
            Seeing… what my eye was seeing, my mind instructed my hand to reach out and lift the copper planter where upon that lifting revealed the abominable affirmation that I had before me found… an antique.
            I reached with the other hand and lifted my heart beating prize away from ‘under’ and set the planter back.  Up came a piece of ‘old china’… a sixteen inch dark blue transferware English Staffordshire American Historical scene – the common at Pittsfield, Mass.- decorated… platter.  I said “Ah.” and reversed the platter to …denote the maker/title mark on its bottom.  I continued the firm grip with that hand as I quickly and lightly rapped the platter with the other hand to ‘hear if it’s cracked’.  It was not cracked.  It was ‘dirty’ from being an under the planter with the near dead plant for… HOW MANY DECADES?
            “Here’s one.” I said.
            “Here’s one?” Jenny said.
            “An antique.” I said.  “Forty bucks”.
            “Antique?  That?” she said as I waved that platter toward her in one hand.  She paused, peered and then said  “It’s so DIRTY”.
            “Been under the plant”.
            “That’s old; an antique?”
            “Pittsfield MASS.” I said.  “Old china.  Historic view.  Forty dollars.”
            “Pittsfield?” Jenny said bending slightly forward to squint at the front of the platter as I stepped toward her. “I’ve been there”.
            “Right.  Not that tranquil there today.” I said referring to the pastoral view of the common.
            “No.  I didn’t like it.  Dirty.”
            “This I can buy.  It’s old enough.”
            “Buy?  That.  You’ll pay forty dollars?  For that?”
            “It’s awfully dirty.”
            “It should clean up enough.”
            “It will never be perfect.”
            “Do you want to sell it?”
            “For forty dollars?  For that? … Sure.  I guess.”
            I put the platter under my left arm and retrieved my rubber banded roll of money from my pocket.  I peeled off two twenty dollar bills and handed them to …Jenny.  She took them.  WAY… WAY …WAY up, up, up above in the widow’s watch… a curtain …that was not actually there… dropped back, a shadowed moved and a ghost awoke and:  This ghost PIERCED DOWNWARD like a saber’s plunge through three floors of solid Maine sea captain’s ‘mansion’ to prick its tip directly dead center at the back of my skull with a CASCADE of ghost shadow shouting that had a grown man as the voice while the whispered shrill of my own grandmother skipped and cackled about this man’s voicing saga 
            And over… in seconds… it was. 
I heard it ALL.  Yes I… heard Mr. Simon say HOW HE had seen my grandmother retrieve this platter from the door behind the sofa.  HOW HE had watched her push the sofa back with her butt.  HOW HE had never seen a woman move a sofa with her butt.  HOW HE had whiskeyed.  How he had bought the platter (Part Five).  How he… had given the platter to his wife.  How it had ‘never more”.  How he had ‘never more’ about it too.  How he himself was, too… ‘never more’.  This while the squeaking cold cackling shrill winding wind voicings of my own grandmother affirmed the images that I now saw clearing in my skull back eye that I, too, was then there too but only the ‘show you’ eight years old “then”.  All this I affirmed to myself as Jenny …folded the money and put it in the pocket of her shorts.  And then took the sunglasses down from her hair.  Again.  And held them in her hand as she looked at the dirty back side of the platter sticking out from under my arm.  I did not set the platter down.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Summer Place - Part Nineteen

Summer Place

Part Nineteen

From within the peripheral view of their shadows and this haunting resilience that …hides their ghosts, New England estates… the… deep New England… estates… quietly persevere without anyone. 
Without summer people.
Without you.
Without I.
It is the DURING… of a stroll… upon the street… of a ‘that village’ (a Salem, Woodstock or Thomaston), by the ‘that old home not noticed’, fronting the street where the focused eye focused forward… catches by peripheral… the fall-back of the …old and age tone browned limp lace curtain on… a second or third or …fourth floor… ‘not noticed before’ (‘I’) ‘a window there’ that IS …as this curtain falls back leaving only its tiny ‘breeze?’ of a wiggle… for the forward focused eye… this…; the peripheral view of their shadows… watching… you.
Or I.
Or my eye.
A well trained eye.
Watching it.
I look up these mighty oaks …before me… and seen only in the corners of my eyes… to see ever scattering branches …before their… heaven?  I see the faint white hand that drops the curtain ‘fall-back’?  I meet her at the back door of her attic to kiss?  I ponder the rooms upon floors of old browned curtains that do NOT resist dust, amplify the slight scurry and leave images on their floors of a once ‘was there’?  I see the curtain’s fall-back and its white hand vanish?
Is it Sophia’s hand?  Or is old Rufus’?
Or is it Mr. Simon’s hand… that drops the curtain back.
For I to see?
While all others …wander on… without…  An old window’s curtain sends me a signal from an ‘old sea captain’s estate’… now closed up and over grown… within its community; ‘the village’
I am the one my grandmother “show you”.
Not you.
Not summer people.
It is not ghosts in these shadows but LIVING air that enriches my nostrils as I climb to an “up there too?” of the fourth floor with its door to the widow’s watch.  “THERE SHE IS”; “THAT GHOST” in black dress looking pointlessly forever …to sea.  HE DROWNED AT SEA.  The latch on the door has fastened her …IN.
“Steps?” I hear?
“You do not hear that?”  “HER BREATH?”  “How can you NOT hear THAT?”
“ALIVE and
YOU (I) have just looked in her dresser drawer.  Too.  SHE HEARS YOU.  Seeking.
Pointlessly poking her things on the floors below she stares
To sea
Do you

It took me fifty years to learn this?  Hardly.  But it has taken me the whole fifty and WILL TAKE ME LONGER… to feel… the fathom …of this power beyond I and it’s…
Out living I.  As it outlived them.  I will join them in the evening breeze before the home and before the stroll to ‘I too’ to drop the curtains to ‘fall-back’ to there admit another to ‘climb to an up there too?’ to find that door and that the ‘latch on the door has fastened’ ME in. Too.
In the spring of 2012, the summer people heirs, a mix of three and four generations of summer people who were ‘have place’ spawn of Mr. Simon and his summer place… began to inform the village that they were ‘going to sell’ “their” ‘summer place’.  I didn’t see the old curtain on the fourth floor window ‘fall-back’ at first.  But then I did.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Summer Place - Part Eighteen

Summer Place

Part Eighteen

            Returning to my office that day… with the Compass Parker punch bowl riding upside down and loose on the top of my soft canvas briefcase… with the “tomorrow morning” appointment… WITH the dressing table and sewing stand ‘in the back’ and …WITH …very little introspective thought to the ‘big picture’ (the forty year 1962-2002 …encompass… of THE Compass… punch bowl)…; that day DID kickoff the last decade of this tale.
            I… did not know that… and would not for a decade BUT I did manage to act out the correct historical tradition of one who is an antiquarian and DOES return home with a ‘Compass Parker’s punch bowl’.  I abandoned all thoughts-about-‘this estate’ for the day and… quietly without notice or mention… took the bowl into the office, put it on a business paper cluttered shelf, tossed some minor but convenient found at that spot paper into the bowl and… turned the King’s rose decoration… to face the wall.  ‘Well hidden’ therefore I went on with my life… for a decade?
            The dressing table suffered a similar fate; it went into a storage shed, had a sheet tossed over it and ‘got buried’… for a decade.
            The sewing stand was hidden by being put into a dark spot against a dark wall where ‘no one can see it’… and was just about exactly where it had come from; a Maine home’s television den… for a decade.
            None of this was done ‘intentionally’.  It was done the way my grandmother had “show you”.  This was NOT a process of thinking out.  It was a process of doing once, quickly and ‘never more’.
            Except for the punch bowl.  After about a month one of the coming through – stopping by – actually knows something about antiques- dealers… was in the office with I and us at chatting when suddenly his hand went up to the shelf and turned the bowl around so the King’s rose showed forth.  He let go and hesitated.  He stared at it.  He said nothing.  Then he reached back up and turned the rose back to the wall.  Roughly translated into antiquarian ‘what just happened’ expostulation:  A knowing visiting dealer’s roving antiquarian dealer’s eye spies an ‘old thing’ that ‘is good’ and acts to determine that this sighting is true by reaching for further inspection.  That action quickly affirms the quality but also opens the quandary of ‘obviously’ I  know the bowl is there, is good, is something this dealer would buy but would also know exactly how to price it (there are six prices; too low, too high and four-in-the-middle-take-your-pick) AND as the bowl is ‘hidden’ on the ‘A SHELF’ ‘in the office’ I must be in the very ‘I know’ on it so… it must be probably be… ‘expensive’ ‘if I should ask’ so… ‘forget it’.  There upon he turns the King’s rose back to the wall and we… move on with no further mention or action… ever?
            I took action; a ‘not dwelled on’ action.  I moved the bowl after his visit.  I did.  I moved Compass Parker’s ghost.  I took it out to the ‘field office’; an old and small shed attached to the large old barn that has a work counter to stand at to do mostly ‘needs to be well natural lighted’ cosmetic actions to antiques ‘coming in’ such as ‘read a mark’, tighten a wire on a frame, scrap something off a glass or …such.  I am in the room constantly and… no one else is in it ever.  I put the bowl (and his ghost) on a shelf next to the window …sort of… ‘out of harms way’.  I put some old paper-to-be-sorted in it and ‘forgot about it’.  Again; this was action ‘not dwelled on’ even though it is perfectly obvious from any vantage within this tale that I had… become like my grandmother.  I still needed another ten years and a kick in the ass to understand that I realized I understood… ‘this’; the final ‘show you’.
            Meanwhile I went on the stupid house call the next day and bought the stupid china cabinet and sold the stupid china cabinet and kept going on stupid house calls to the five homes of the five heirs of my grandmother’s estate who all formed a stupid gypsy wagon train of wanting, suddenly after twenty years… to ‘sell’ ‘all’ of ‘the stuff’ they ‘inherited’.  It took about two and a half years and was absurdly stupid.  Each had absconded with knowing glee with their ‘stuff’ at the time of distribution and… absolutely… done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING with the crud except put it in ‘sheds’, ‘the back of the garage’ or ‘THE ATTIC!’.  Or… etcetera.  It was, for I, a going on a seemingly endless ride of stupid with this storied but CRAPPY crud that they… had no idea why they’d even taken the stuff in the first place and NOW wanted ME to “BUY IT”.  I did… sort of.  I bought truckloads of ‘it’ from ‘them’ ‘cheap’.  They were delighted.  After two and a half years they ‘ran out’.  None of it ‘was any good’… to this tale.
            So I forgot about this ‘it’.  Most of this ‘it’ went away (was sold) right away so it was even easier to ‘forgot about’.  NO ONE ever had a remembering to verbalize about my grandmother, about her being an antiques dealer, about her stuff, about the local (sea captain’s) estates she plundered, about me, about me being an antiques dealer, about anything I thought about any of ‘this’ AND what I thought about ANYTHING for that matter and:  ALL OF THE THAT OF THIS… continues …in its abysmal dark emptiness …to this day… ‘no questions asked’ ‘never mentioned’ “EVER”.  From that ‘THIS’ I have come to FULLY UNDERSTAND ‘why’ my grandmother quietly slipped Compass’ bowl into her crummy china cabinet that day (Part Six) and, therefore, WHY I too… turned the King’s rose to ‘face the wall’.
            That alone would be a ‘good enough’ for all of this telling tale but… after another ten years… several things happened.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Summer Place - Part Seventeen

Summer Place

Part Seventeen

            I scared someone?  Someone scared me?  I tagged my grandmother… on the always moving circle of antiquarian duck, duck, goose?  Or has she tagged me?  I’m eight years old on her back stair landing… standing… befuddled before …THIS “show you”… old sewing stand.  Or am I forty-eight years old and ‘just bought it’; the THIS SAME ‘show you’ old sewing stand… ‘cheap’?
            Do I know this?
            Do I care?
            Do I?
            The crescendo of thunder claps in the …thunder storms… of the then forty years of rolling through thunder storms of … ‘growing up under the antiquarian tutelage of a grandmother …has “schooled me” in the very subtle trademark traditions of this whole… Maine… romance’ (Part One) … came and went (the storm ‘passed’) as a ‘without’ for me?
            Yes; a ‘without’.  I picked up the stand with one hand… after deploying two twenty dollar bills from MY OWN ‘rubber banded roll of money’… and carried it outside to the shade side of the truck… next to the dressing table.  I set it down.  I walked over to the open hatchback of the near car with its cardboard boxes purveyed.  The two women had followed me out and …moved to the open hatch with the boxes …too.  I was …now… fitting a small piece to another small piece of THIS current ‘house call’ (puzzle).  Stupid and simple it was (the joining of the two puzzle pieces) ‘this stuff REALLY IS from my grandmother’s house’.  That simple and …that stupid.  The boxes enhanced the progression of this …stupidity.
            “I REALLY DIDN’T THINK THAT YOU WOULD WANT THIS BUT I BROUGHT THESE.” the heir in charge sister said as I… slipped under the up raised hatch, into the hatch’s shade, looked down at the boxes, reached down and pulled open the loose cardboard flaps of one box to… show… old newspaper wrapped… ‘glass and china’…iota… filling that box that said to me ‘the other boxes are filled like this too’ AND SAID TO ME… using a standard antiques dealer buying skill of …casually noting the DATE on the newspaper wrapping the… ‘whatever’… to get a slight of hand clue as to a ‘how long’ the box contents had been ‘packed away’.  I was rewarded with a third piece of the puzzle of stupidity being found and fitted.
            The newspaper dated a… the summer of 1982; the year my grandmother died and season when her estate was… distributed, ‘cleaned out’ (by me) and her ‘house’ ‘sold’.  That was a nice stupid piece to a nice stupid puzzle that I snapped into the other stupid pieces and… went forgetfully forward from this opportunity ‘no thinking back’.  Most probably the newspaper’s date was …the exact day BEFORE… the ‘this stuff’ was wrapped in that newspaper, packed in the boxes, ‘put away’ and NEVER TOUCHED AGAIN.  
            This attention getting phenomena; the denoting of the DATE on the…old newspaper wrapping the old antiques in the old box …in the old house GUIDES one AWAY from dynamic ‘big picture’ thinking and TOWARD the trail of more… stupidity thinking.  I ‘dated’ the paper and I ‘my grandmother’s house’ that date and I… plunged my greedy hand into the box and… pulled up, partially extracted, partially unwrapped, partially sort of peeked at… slightly sort of… that ‘it’ and… skipped right on to the next clump of old newspaper to repeat and do the same move on to… pull the box flaps, pull the newspaper clumps ‘next box’ and …third box?
            Not quite for I heard the woman’s voice saying “HER CHINA CABINET” as I identified a ‘glass and (or) china’ ‘from long ago’ IOTA as from “HER CHINA CABINET” …TOO and so… this being a ‘such’ started the falling down of long ago stood up dominos  that …went through my mind at high speed as “china cabinet; grandmother’s; shelves; four; glass and china; boxes; four; shelves packed in boxes; by heir; each shelf packed in boxes; newspaper from then dated; never touched again; grandmother’s; china cabinet; her;  good things?  No.  Yes.  That I; remember; do I; yes; I do; my hand; in the third box; shelf; down; in back; yes; old newspaper clump; “THERE IT IS; that; the bowl; old bowl; yes; ‘show you’; THAT bowl; now HERE; THIS BOWL; in hand; my hand; is; the; Compass Parker’s BOWL.  (Part Six and Part Twelve-A)
            It was… with the old 1982 newspaper falling away as I, with it in left hand swung it out and away from the box, boxes and hatchback shelter to become MY OWN in cavalier back swing AWAY from ANY ‘all’ to do with the ‘this’ (the current house call including ALL its complexities and nuances …spanning twenty years. Yes; like those before me who came before me too to ‘show you’ I …without special needs… TOO… did NOT let go of the old bowl and did NOT set it back or down and DID NOT fail to EVER ALWAYS ‘kept’ my little slot of peripheral vision protectively ON IT  while I:
Pretended to sensitively poke the FOURTH BOX and clumped newspaper wrapped of the “her bric-brac”:
            “This is all from that.”
            “Maybe another box but I didn’t SEE one”.
            “I remember.  It.  Ah.  Three forty-five.”
            “Three forty-five this afternoon?”
            “Three HUNDRED forty-five DOLLARS. …  For the BOXES” I said actually accidentally waving the left hand held ‘Compass’ bowl’ between the three of us as I mentally “ZOMBIE LAND OR WHAT” my offer and the trail that it went off on.  I got the bowl back behind me (sort of ) as the SHE says:
            “OH” followed by the sister making a word sound of some sort of  “Oh”.  Too.
            Pause of maybe two seconds that actually felt like TWO long eternal plunges into HELL including high decibel internalized screaming.
            “OK.  FINE.  DO YOU WANT THE CABINET?”
            “The cabinet?”
            “It’s a junker”.
            “It is?    Oh…  Oh:  I’m never going to use it.  OK”.
            “I’ll get the money” I said.  I turned, walked to the truck’s driver’s door.  I opened the door, set Compass Parker’s bowl upside down on the seat and quickly ‘snaked’ the cash wallet out of the …soft canvas… briefcase on the center of the seat.
            I paid.
            Then I continued, uneventfully, to view, rummage, find and purchase ‘more’ ‘there’ for about an hour AND agreed, while loading the truck to
            “Tomorrow morning, right?”

Friday, May 10, 2013

Summer Place - Part Sixteen

Summer Place

Part Sixteen

            “I work with idiots”, particularly the word ‘idiots’… is a generic and scruffy Maine antiques dealer’s expression to capture… from the realm view of the scruffy “that know”… the perpetual lack of knowing – lack of looking – lack of working – and – ‘too lazy to care’ …‘of people’ …with their antiques… in the many… many… forms it transpires ‘in’.  After a few decades of self exposure, it becomes, after a few more decades, a …generic …and easy default explanation as to “WHY” sound minded people take very not sound minded actions with their antiques.  I am ‘used to this’ and do not …ever… try to correct the flow of its murky waters.
            Therefore, after nearly twenty years had passed I did not ‘very’ anything when the …now old… heir in charge of my grandmother’s estate called me up and “WANT YOU” to “LOOK OVER” the “THINGS” “I inherited from” “YOUR GRANDMOTHER” and… “SEE IF YOU WANT ANY OF THEM” meaning actually WILL YOU PAY ME MONEY FOR … that stuff.
            I said I’d “LOOK”.  We made an appointment at HER house.  An advance appointment.  Two days later she called me “TO SEE” if I “WILL COME TO **** (another heir’s home) INSTEAD” “SHE HAS THINGS TOO”.
            I went to the second house.  One car parked in the driveway had its hatchback up showing its back space full of four cardboard boxes AND some ‘too big to fit’ in the boxes other iota on top.  I walked by that antiques display and up to the kitchen door that was opened for me as I approached and …after some …no hugging or similar family familiars… greeting we went into the “television den” where a classic Maine yellow with stenciled and hand painted decoration, all original and untouched… probably made in Livermore Falls, Maine… 1830’s woman’s dressing table… had been hauled (dragged by an old woman) from ‘over behind the TV’ into the room’s central open space. 
            Rapidly with out anything being said and I saying nothing, doing nothing and NOT moving toward the table I …mentally… whirled rapidly with expressionless viper ALL… ANYTHING… “about it”.  Aside from the “obvious” that the table was ‘old, real, perfect, Maine, Livermore, good and an “I’ll take that”… I conjured no “this was my grandmother’s” type data AT ALL ‘about it’ …NOT THAT it MATTERED.
            These two old Maine girls were in ‘cut to the chase’ mode so the actual home and dressing table owner right away offered me the chance to buy this dressing table.  I deflected a show of any interest with a “This was my Grandmother’s?”
            THAT worked to deflect the need to applaud verbally the ‘stand alone’ gem qualities of the dressing table AND pushed the can of whose “BUYING” what why and “how much now”…across the floor and AWAY from ME.
            “Um.  Yes I got that from YOUR GRANDMOTHER years ago.”
            “Oh NICE” I commended, stepped to the table and opened the left top drawer.  Inside the little drawer was a piece of torn paper… with a pencil note on it.  I saw this but could not read the pencil note.  I did recognize that it was of my grandmother’s hand.
            A “SHE let me have this LONG AGO when JACK AND I were MARRIED.” came toward me while I …closed the little drawer.  “I want to get rid of it.”
            “Get rid of it?”
            “It takes up too much SPACE”.
            “Space here.” I heard myself say.
            “Would you BUY that?” she continued.
            “Buy it?  How much?” I said while still sort of dream world focused.
            “Oh I don’t know… YOU tell ME.  It’s VERY OLD you know.”
            “Old?  Yes.  Two hundred.  Dollars.” I said calmly.  Firmly.
            That caused a throwback of sorts; pitched the her pitch back at her.  The other sister was standing off so… this second sister verbally caught the throwback by …opening her mouth and saying nothing… for about eight seconds… where upon she looked at the other sister, the one who had been in charge of the estate, then looked at me and said “Ok.”.
            I took a rubber banded roll of paper money out of my jacket pocket and truly peeled off two hundred dollars in twenty dollar bills and handed it to her.  To this day I have absolutely no inkling as to what she or the other sister thought of the offer other than that I was not expelled from the house and our business continued.  I would gather from these actions that my offer was, at the least, “ok”.

            A few minutes later, when I lifted, by myself, the dressing table out into the shade beside my truck, I took the slip of paper out of the drawer.  Later, in the truck cab, I read it.  It says “Dolly Kent  (Capt.) Ephraim Kent”.  Translated the note means ‘this dressing table was Dolly Kent’s, wife of sea captain Ephraim Kent and I say this because I bought it from that estate”.  I could bank that “the very subtle trademark traditions of this whole… Maine… romance” note.  It (the dressing table) was what my grandmother was looking for.  It was Dolly Kent’s ghost.
            Before taking the dressing table outside.  Before enough silent time passed after the passing of the …cash.  Before anyone had to make an awkward stammer about anything at all… this sister… in the television den of her home… that was actually pretty dark on that sunny morning…  turned her back to me to face a dark wall while saying “I HAVE THIS TOO.”

            She, with her right arm moving into the dark ahead of her and grasping with thumb and fist, began to drag forward a… two drawer sewing stand… that this arm found in this dark.  This sewing stand was of itself… as dark… as the darkness of the wall of the television den wall where …she hid it… but it came forward to be slightly illuminated before MY EYES as ‘of splendid proportions’ ‘an 1840-50 two drawer sewing stand’ with ‘original old finish and surface’, original drawer knobs’ and… original old surface upon… solid bird’s eye maple drawer fronts.  Again; “I mentally… whirled rapidly with expressionless viper ALL… ANYTHING”… “about it”.  THIS TIME, ABOVE the ‘obvious’ I hand tagged on the circle of duck, duck, goose, my grandmother’s a ‘show you”:  An ever so faint memory of a ‘that’; a ‘this is a SEWING STAND’, a  “from Old Rufus’ ROOM”; a ‘Captain Merritt Kimball estate’ “from there”. (see Summer Place – Part Ten)
            “I TOOK THIS from YOUR GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE” she said while I was mentally off on a voyage to a “IT WAS UP AT THE STAIR TOP of the BACK STAIRS YES I REMEMBER”.
            “Refinished?” I said.
            “Sell it?”
            “You are?  Want to?”
            “Oh.  Ah.”
            “YES BUT IT NEEDS WORK”.
            “Forty?  Dollars.”
            “THAT:  FINE”.
            I tagged my grandmother and had run off around the circle duck, duck, goose?  Who IS the duck and WHO is the goose.  There was no note in the drawer.  Back in 1962 a sewing stand like this was “nothing great”.  Today, in the ‘old surface’ amongst the ‘that know’:  I never bother to put price tags on them (old New England sea captains estate sewing stands).  The tag might ‘scare someone’.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Summer Place - Part Fifteen

Summer Place 

Part Fifteen

            Between the incident just reported of I capturing the clean out of my own grandmother’s estate and… the 2012 ‘fifty years later’ re-emergence of Mr. Simon’s ‘summer place’ and the Captain Merritt Kimball estate in the local village’s antiques dealing realm… two actions… ?... or ‘activities’…?... should be recorded.  Maybe these are best noticed as ‘no action” or ‘non activities’ ‘taken’.
            First, and promptly, I cleaned out the estate.  I took everything.  I did this just the same as I did estate cleanouts then, there, after, ever after …and now (to this day).  It is a polished precision “ALL” “goes to the warehouses” leaving …the estate ‘broom clean’ empty and…  a “I’ll get to it” stored in a warehouse… unsorted mound of ‘stuff’ ‘from there’.  What is a good warehouse in Maine?  I personally prefer ‘drive up flush’ with the truck tailgate three or four floor ‘old barns’.  They hold a lot, are very dry and… don’t attract attention (the state is full of them).  Again; once in the warehouse an estate contents status is ‘I’ll get to it”.
            This mostly means nothing happens.  That, in my experience (applied experience) in the trade is ‘good’.  The ‘stuff’ ‘just sits there’.  Eventually one ‘looks at something’ and there begins the long process (in no hurry at all) of … ‘looking at something’ and ‘selling it’… ‘sort of’.  In the case of my grandmother’s estate this was an enhanced ‘I’ll get to it’ simply because it was my grandmother’s estate and I, being a twenty-eight year old antiques dealer in fine antiquarian such-such… felt “there’s noting good” “in there”.  And… that was true… sort of.  It was the …very helpful at this time chart spot of my career… CONCEIT… of my self serving antiques dealer ME …that simply packed “ALL” of it “OFF” without thinking too much about any of this and then turning promptly a ten on Monday morning after the ‘walk through’ “DONE”; the door locks behind me …of my grandmother house forever… that I hardly noticed… MOVE ON TO THE NEXT… high octane ‘antiques’ ‘deal’.
            NOW do not think I was a fool blinded fool while active on the site.  I moved with snake slither poison fang strike abandon through the whole wholeness of the estate and, in fact, purloined what most would begrudge ‘looks like pretty good stuff to me’, truck full after truck full on down to the FIVE truck loads of Maine perfection grade stacked dried hardwood ‘stove wood’.  I left behind not a single fagot.  There was found… by I … and is still found to this day… by I… ‘treasure’.
            To focus this treasure and to assure we remain ‘in’ this tale, I show two examples to portray the process… of sorting (a broad sense)… an estate… over decades of time.  Reminding of my “whose in a hurry” work policy, I assure that I TOOK MY TIME.  And pieced a ‘the pieces’ together …slowly.

            WHEN I went into the upstairs bathroom on the …frenzied rape and pillage first ‘walk through” to “SEE” ‘anything good’ I spied… forlorn and alone and up above eye level …a pair of smaller early American pressed glass (EAPG) diamond point pattern decanters… ‘sitting there’ where they’d been ‘sitting there’ for a ‘God knows how long’ including being undisturbed during the distribution of the estate.  “POP goes the weasel” for those and off into a box and into a truck load and… that was it for about ten years.  MEANWHILE my old eagle eye “huh” a EAPG diamond point spooner (a glass vessel used before the Civil War to serve coin silver spoons to tea drinking guests) ‘turned up’, ‘went by me’ and got, an again, “Huh” BUT did not get the slip of paper in there (with the spoons) too “noticed”.  For fifteen years or longer.  “NICE” did get out from me for the set of six “MUST BE HER OLD” diamond point sherry glasses (?) neatly ‘sideboarded’ off the living room next to a bottle style ‘a nothing’ brandy ‘near full’ decanter (“No one took that?”).  The glasses I could figure they’d leave; too good for them to ‘understand’.  Just… ‘your grandmother was funny’ …BETTER GLASSWARE THAN… your lips… HAVE EVER TOUCHED.

            OK so I took those no problem.  And found another ‘spooner’ too.  That could be a ‘spill holder’.  What’s a spill holder?  It’s a fine EAPG vessel that held little tubes of hand rolled up scrap paper to be used to ‘light’ ‘lamps’… before the Civil War.
            I sort of kept those ‘set of six’ ‘in sight’ over the years.  They’ve been ‘on a shelf’ ‘in a building’ for, now, like… thirty years.  They’re for sale.  No one has bought them.  No one asks about them.  IF a ‘they do’ it seems they are ‘too expensive’.  “Huh”.  Yes and just like my grandmother with the old Compass Parker punch bowl… these ‘her sherry glasses’ …just sit there “no one wants them”.
            Until one day.
            That day I happened on the spooner with the silver spoons and …noticed the paper slip and… had to walk outside into the barn yard light to read the cryptic scratch of my grandmother’s penciling that read… simply… “Captain Merritt Kimball”.

            Except that ‘Captain Merritt Kimball’ would have been DEAD before the EAPG diamond point pattern glass was made SO:  That cryptic pencil scratch simply recorded that my grandmother had  ‘gotten these’ from that estate.  I understood what I read; what the message “means”; that she found the EAPG diamond point glassware scattered in the Kimball estate and it was “THEIRS” meaning “someone in the family” “purchased it”… probably in Boston… before the Civil War and brought it back on ‘the boat’ and ‘the family’ used it as their glass ware and “THIS” (what my grandmother found and purloined) was “what was left”.  “Huh”.  Then I began collecting the “diamond point I’ve found” “together”.  Sort of.  Over twenty years.  Sort of.  I mean… no one ever asks about it, knows about it, sees it, handles it or …ever had their lips touch the rim of the glasses “I’ll show you”.  My grandmother said.
            So THESE are truly from ‘The Captain Merritt Kimball’ estate as… documented… by my grandmother who purloined them and documented them way back in 1962 ‘from Rufus’ probably for a nickel apiece.  “Cool’.  She put those decanters up on the top of the …upstairs bathroom’s medicine cabinet… for ‘safe keeping’.  She looked at them all the time.  No one else did. Or ever has.  Except me.  I work with idiots.
            That last is easily proven.