It is back by Rufus’ old bedroom that this tale appears again. Rufus’ bedroom was originally ‘across’ from his older brother’s (Merritt’s) bedroom. In… about 1936… and the details and dating of all this are not important… “A BATHROOM” was “put in” …at the back center of the ‘landing’ fronting the front stairs top and between the two boy’s bedrooms. This ‘new’ bathroom was fitted into this awkward for a bathroom space. It was entered only from a single door at the head of the front stairs landing and… was just as frustrated in fact as it appeared to be and… as frustrated as are all ‘old bathrooms’ that were ‘put in’ to much, much ‘before bathrooms were invented’ older New England homes. Complicating this ‘new bathroom’ was the forced need to ‘electrify the upstairs’ because this ‘new bathroom’ had no windows so was ‘dark’ until ‘wired’. Rufus’ bedroom was ‘wired’ at the same time.
NOT THAT RUFUS CARED.
Merritt’s bedroom was ‘wired’ ‘too’.
The front bedrooms were not ‘wired’. They were ‘never wired’ until ‘after the summer people bought the place’. Merritt and Rufus’ ‘wired’ rooms consisted of having one outlet each and that outlet being ‘back’ against the bathroom’s wall ‘that was wired too’. I note this to remind the reader that ‘electrifying’ old New England sea captain’s homes was… a ‘not that long ago’ ‘slow and steady’ ‘here and there’ sort of process that is FORGOTTEN in our all-electric-all-the-time world of today. TODAY, I assure, Rufus’ old bedroom not only has a flat screen TV and the remains of a ‘hard wire’ computer-internet set up but ‘is’ “WI-FI” …too. But… when Rufus’ bedroom was ‘wired at the same time’ it was also:
NOT THAT RUFUS CARED because… he didn’t ‘use’ ‘electricity’. The one outlet in his room …eventually… had a single ‘electric lamp’ ‘plugged into it’. It took the ‘eventually’ because Rufus had to ‘get’ (BUY) an… electric lamp. That was a ‘not on the top of his to-do list. But by the end of WWII and by the 1962 date when my grandmother bought the sewing stand from his bedroom, Rufus ‘had a light’ ‘in there’.
Then… my grandmother looked into the bathroom from the bathroom door. Turning on the light by the switch by the door she ‘saw nothing’ she ‘wanted’. She turned the light off and closed the door. That would probably have been the last time that bathroom was so curtly treated. From ‘then on’, ‘summer people’ were perpetually ‘renovating it’. And everything else in the main house of the ‘Captain Merritt Kimball Estate’.
This upstairs bathroom was hit hard and first. New fixtures (‘modern’), more wiring, more lights and …two small and curious windows up and off to the sides of the back wall were ‘put in’. This ‘curious’…was because… if the windows were lower and centered… they were blocked by the roof line of the roof of the ‘ell’ that was actually the ‘original house’ ‘behind’ the main ‘Kimball mansion’ that ‘joined’ the ‘mansion’ right there. Note and remember the word “joined”.
Every few years and assuredly with each new ‘summer people’ ‘summer place’ this bathroom ‘got hit’ (was renovated… i.e.… “modernized”)… always within the boundaries of its frustrated space … centered at the back of the second floor landing. The whole holy wholeness of the holy whole of the whole estate kept pace with this upstairs bathroom’s make-over timeline and included both the downstairs bathrooms (plural) and “THE KITCHEN”. These nether regions surpassed the upstairs bathroom with their own ‘never finished’ ‘renovations’ “on-going”. Meanwhile the outside of the house was being painted white again… too. WHERE could Rufus’ ghost find a place to hover in the all of these home decorator exorcisms of the “all old” “all” of the true “Captain Merritt Kimball Estate”? The renovator’s active action policy of exorcisms was a concise mantra of “ALL OLD BE GONE”.
By the … ‘after Columbus day’ of 2012; a ‘four months’ after I had purloined the old chest of drawers from the old barn on the property of the summer place of Mr. Simon’s spawn… the exorcisms of “all old… be gone” at the Captain Merritt Kimball estate were… well… well… well ‘advanced’ and decades ahead of the original D-Day invasion of the “soooo OLD” tragic start state… of that estate. SO FAR FROM the “that start” of the ‘that all’ of today’s ‘good’ ‘summer places’ ALL started ‘as that’ ‘at first’… and… ‘they’ ‘are never done’. Too. So far that… Rufus… wouldn’t know his own bedroom?
SO: WHEN …I arrived at the Captain Merritt Kimball… on that nice fall day to notice that they were painting the outside of the estate white… again… I… had never been to ‘the place’ ‘before’. I drove by it all the time. But that was it. Until I was contacted by cell phone on my cell phone.
By a local carpenter-builder who enjoys perpetual employment by the village summer people at their summer places because… he can ‘read blueprints’ ‘from their architects’. He says. He called me up. That never happens. Neither of us call ‘anyone’ ‘ever’.
“WHAT …can you possibly WANT.” I said in jest into my speaking phone and heard him laugh at his speaking phone.
“I’m DOING WORK for the SLATTERNLY’S. At their SUMMER PLACE. YEAH: That one… the… AH… KIMBALL’S ESTATE. You know: THE BIG PLACE. Up above the RIVER ROAD. IT’S WHITE. BIG. RIGHT?”
“OK SO: We’re doing THE BATHROOM. We just took it ALL OUT.
“WELL: WE TOOK THE WALLS OUT”
“YEAH: WHAT AH MESS. ANYWAY… OK… so the BACK WALL… yeah… we RIPPED IT OUT. BACK to the FRAME. But the OLD HOUSE joins the WALL. SEE? UNDER IT; THE OLD WALL. That’s like 1930’s; THAT OLD WALL. The OLD HOUSE is BOARDED INTO the building’s WALL. IT’S FLUSH. AND IT HAS A DOOR THERE. WALLED OVER. THIS OLD DOOR.
“A door? Under the wall?”
“YEAH. LIKE. THERE. WE OPENED IT. SO: IT GOES INTO THE ELL. BUT!”
“YEAH BUT. SO IT GOES ABOVE THE ELL. ALL THE WAY THERE.”
“Above the ell?”
“YEAH ALL THE WAY.”
“Above the ell? A door there?”
“YEAH. LIKE. CLOSED UP UNDER THE WALL FOREVER. IT’S FULL OF STUFF IN THERE.
“FULL OF IT; THIS OLD STUFF. IT’S NOT JUNK. IT’S OLD. SO I’M CALLING YOU.
“IT’S ALL OLD IN THERE. NOT JUNK. ANTIQUES. SO I CALL YOU. YOU MIGHT WANT IT. WE GOTTA CLEAN IT OUT. YOU GOTTA COME LOOK.”
“YOU found ANTIQUES behind the DOOR?”
“YEAH. LOOKS LIKE JUNK BUT IT’S ANTIQUES I KNOW. You COME LOOK. WE GOTTA CLEAN IT OUT TO RUN THE WIRES. Electrician’s COMING.
“Your cleaning it out now?”
“YEAH. COME LOOK”
“Is there a lot?”
“IT’S ALL FULL OF JUNK. BUT OLD: ANTIQUES”.
“I’ll come right down”.