The days after my historical society visit sidestepped the antiquarian trade and featured, on Thursday, the family passing the antique platters mounded with carved turkey and ‘fixings’. This beautiful and bountiful feast day is followed by the three day evermore commercially focused ‘holiday weekend’. Although there may be browsing for antiques by a few, the ‘friends and family’ rituals dominate and the true, pure, lean and ...mean antiquarian trade is... sidestepped. That weekend I do not find myself in old attics hunting antiques alone behind the light beam of my flashlight.
Unless, of course, there is a ‘family is all got together let’s settle this now’ estate emergency. Those I actually avoid. By logic. IF there is an ‘untouched’ (by antiquarians) attic that be... and BE TRULY... undisturbed... due to true neglect... IT WILL ...in all probability... NOT be ‘explored’... on Thanksgiving weekend. It made it for two hundred year plus without I and my flashlight... so... no reason to suspect we will be ‘in there’ the “NOW” of that weekend. Of course this then means that I, an antiquarian picker in hot pursuit, must rock back upon my own heals; I ‘get’ the ‘weekend off”.
Some weekend: Dull.
I escaped the family hubbub each dawn and... ‘go into town’ and... back and... not much else. But: On the first day; Friday’s morning, I, driving, had a ‘dawned on me’. Again. This must be noted, in its ‘again’ process, to show just how SLOW the mind’s dot to dot procedure is amongst even the most vigilant (obsessed?) antiquarian hunters. My dawn on me SHOULD have been dawned on me WHILE I was walking away ...from the Historical Society... on that day. It was a very simple and direct ‘dawn on me’.
I could not visit the Captain Merritt Kimball estate to view the supposed ‘original furnishings’ ‘in the front rooms’ of the estate because... the summer people would not be back at their summer place; the Kimball mansion... ‘until next summer’. I had counter suggested that WE (the Historical Society director and I) roust the estate’s caretaker ...whom we’d surely know... and get that person to let us in to ‘see’. ‘Good idea’ achieved but, in fact, procedurally SLOW for the Historical Society’s vantage was a combination of ‘we’ll get to it’ and ‘what’s in this for us anyway?’. I had privately reckoned this myself. BUT I had not reckoned further until that Friday morning when I ‘dawn on me’ THAT I had ‘recently’ (within six weeks) BEEN INSIDE the Captain Merritt Kimball estate MYSELF (Part Twenty-Two) when ...buying and cleaning out the old crawl space chamber ‘FULL’ of ‘old stuff’ ...that was discovered during the renovation of the upstairs bathroom... by the contractor... that I know well... WHO IS PROBABLY STILL WORKING ON THE BATHROOM RIGHT NOW.
I ...turned the truck around and drove to and UP the Captain Merritt Kimball estate DRIVEWAY ...even though at the bottom of that I could see that there was no one there; no ‘contractors at work’ trucks parked there. TODAY...
Because it is THE FRIDAY of THANKSGIVING DAY WEEKEND and... “THEY” “took the weekend OFF”. So I turned the truck around ‘outback’ of the main house and before the contractor’s dumpster that, by the protruding debris, SHOWED ACTIVITY ‘on going’ so I was assured that ‘they’ are ‘still working’... so... therefore that I ...will comeback MONDAY MORNING and ‘find them’ “HERE”. The giant and nearly full dumpster disturbed the otherwise breath take beautiful ...on to... stunningly beautiful ...hill top crest ‘view’ of ALL; the site, the mansion, the barns, the ‘down to the river’, the river and... the haze of the horizon beyond. I stopped the truck... at the front of the mansion... and sat there both staring and ‘taking it all in’. This was (and IS) my absurd QUEST? That I be HERE NOW to be the “BE THERE” “BACK THEN”. Am I HERE... BACK THEN... NOW? WHY did I STOP... if I be NOT HERE NOW... IN... the BACK THEN... I... quest? The rumblings and thunder claps of too much thinking meets actual action in space and time... and has brought ME to my own “I” “HERE” “NOW”? I can see crystal clear “BACK THEN” and therefore the “WHY” and the wholeness of the... ‘way it was’? The truck idled.
There was nothing to spoil this whole wholeness EXCEPT I in the truck idling and... the dumpster around the corner of the back of the mansion. I... idling... WAS THERE. AM THERE. I GOT THERE. SAT THERE. KNEW I WAS THERE. AFTER ALL OF ‘it’; the FIFTY YEARS... that followed the Kimball’s one hundred and fifty years... that was founded by the FIFTY YEARS BEFORE of Compass Parker... and his wife, the first (?) Sophia (Parts Twelve A-B-C). I am there now?
“I am there now.” I said.
I put the truck back in drive and ...drove away.
ON Monday morning, early... for the contractors started at seven... I arrived at the Captain Merritt Kimball estate ... before the contractor’s coffee had cooled. I parked out back by their trucks and the dumpster. I did not like that; I wanted to park in front and go in the front door. I went in the back side door, as they did. I went to the front of the house, to the hall at the front door. I turned to go up the front stairs. AS I turned I glanced at both CLOSED DOORS to the two front rooms denoting not only their closed state but also the key heads poking out from their door lock key holes.
I went up the stairs to be ...early contractor morning style ‘we saw you coming what do you want’ curtly greeted that I MASTER of factually butted back by saying “I WANT TO LOOK AT THE FURNITURE IN THE FRONT ROOMS DOWN STAIRS IT WILL JUST TAKE A MINUTE”.
That declaration of beyond contractual scope purpose eased relations to a holding of coffee cup “Sure” and I hesitated not. I reversed, went down the stairs, turned to the door on my left, turned the knob knowing it was locked. I turned the key, unlocked the door, open it inward and... saw that the room was completely empty with nothing in it at all. At all. I closed the door, locked it, went across the hall, heard footsteps come to the head of the stairs above, turned that door knob while turning that key, opened the door and saw that this room too was completely empty. Holding on to the door knob I looked up to the top of the stairs to see the contractor looking down at me. “WHERE’S ALL THE FURNITURE?” I said.
“The painters took it out. They’re gonna paint the rooms. Not until we’re done up here.”
I looked back into the room. “Painting?” I said. I looked at the room. That room need NO PAINTING that I could see but... well... that’s summer people. “WHERE’D THEY PUT THE FURNITURE? WHOSE PAINTING?”
“KENNY D. I DON’T KNOW WHERE HE PUT IT.”
“I haven’t seen him since we started. HE’LL SHOW UP.”
“When? Like: February, right.”
“SOMETIME. HE’S GONE NOW I KNOW THAT”.
I looked back in the room; a glance, then pulled the door shut turning the knob. Then locked it. I still faced the door.
“COME UP HERE I GOT SOMETHING OF YOURS.”
“MINE? UP THERE?” I said
“YEAH: YOURS. YOU LEFT IT.”
“LEFT IT? WHAT IS IT?”
“I don’t know what it is COME GET IT.” He said and turned away into the new bathroom. I went up the stairs and into the bathroom. He was picking something out of his tool pile at one corner. He turned and handed me... in his outstretching hand... what I instantly identified to be... an 18th century creamware Queen’s ware Kings rose decorated ‘tea’ caddy. I took it from his hand.
I, quickly spun it over and over in my hand while affirming that IT BE A THAT; the what I thought I saw, as he turned away, bent back to the tool pile, fetched something, rose and returned his arm with a small box holding small pieces of broken decorated creamware.
“The lid.” I said.
“You know what it is?” He said.
“Yeah. A.” I stopped my planned expostulation of identification. “TEA BOTTLE.” I said. “Old tea bottle”.
“Old tea bottle?” he said. “They put TEA in that?”
“OH. Anyway: You left that.”
“Yeah. We found it You’d already gone.”
“In there.” He said gesturing to where the crawl space door once had been but now was covered by a:
“MARBLE WALL?” I said.
“Composite” he said. “Looks real though doesn’t it”.
“So take that out of here. I was worried I was gonna step on it.”