While I was talking to Janice... who I haven’t been able to get rid ever since... I was having THE epiphany. THE epiphany was that THIS; what was happening RIGHT THEN to the Savage estate WAS (IS) the ‘right thing’. It is ...historically correct; the historically correct; the traditional way... of distributing the contents of an old New England estate.
In consideration of the ‘antiques’ it is bad... for realizing cash value ‘of the antiques’.
As historic tradition... it is a bull’s eye in the target center of ‘properly done’.
No banks. No lawyers. No antiques dealers. No sale, no auction, no appraisal. No yard sales. No one at all... except a ‘few friends’ ‘over’ ‘every now and then’ to ‘help’ ‘clean out’ the ‘clutter’. Sort of.
It takes years to do this if it is an ‘intact’ ‘undisturbed’ true ‘old New England estate’ contents... distribution. I mean... it was YEARS before I ‘got “down in” the cellar’ of ‘that place’.
But I did. Have. Still do.
So... when I was talking to Janice that day... it (“THE epiphany”) DID ‘hit me’. And I went down to the bottom of the sea of... antiques dealers... on downward deeper to antiques pickers... onward deeper, DEEPER down to trash pickers and... their bottom... of the antiques sea... and stayed there... ever since... when it comes to the “Savage Mansion”. I willfully joined... using all my antiquarian crafts... the “historically correct; the traditional way... of distributing the contents of an old New England estate”. I pitch... and turn up side down.
It is what I do best all along ...anyway. What I understand best... anyway. It’s the ‘old house’ ‘untouched’ that I like best... anyway. Anyway that... works?
I wasn’t... and am not... able to be alone in the estate with just the old ghosts like I ‘like’. Helen is always around. She’s not afraid of ghosts and ...the ghosts are afraid of her. But the rest of it (being ‘in’ an old estate’); the ‘creep time’ and the exploration of the rich compost of the undisturbed REGIONS of the estate are bountiful and ...spread out over years of “TODAY... we’ll go IN HERE. I GUESS.” If the stuff wasn’t so OLD. So dirty. So in-the-DARK. So... ‘no one’s been in here’. So... “I can’t believe she LIVES in THERE.
All that really helped me. And keeps others out.
But it wasn’t quite that easy at first. To transition myself from scrounging through banana boxes of dirty dishes donated to bric-brac table sales... that were already attracting the moral hygienic concerns of local ladies who ‘YOU... cannot do that’ ‘he’s BUYING all those ANTIQUES for NOTHING you know!’ “SOMEBODY STOP HIM”.
They tried. The car load of banana boxes that Mr. Carol picked up were “gone through” (rummaged). The “antiques” in them were “Filthy”. Selections were made by the “I KNOW” ladies from the ‘rummage’ to be “LOOKED AT”... by a nearby woman auctioneer “SHE’S VERY FAIR” and “KNOWS WHAT SHE’S DOING”. Of course I HAD heard of her but HAD NEVER seen her at the base of a cellar stairs using a flashlight to ‘looked at’. I mean... her antiques are based on the buyer/seller commissions SHE gets from ‘doing that’ (buyer and seller economics through HER auctions). She... can do THOSE numbers on a ‘looked at’ in HER HEAD... without a flashlight AND without WASHING the ‘dirty dishes’. Too: “You don’t NEED to WASH THEM. They’re NOT WORTH DOING THAT.”
“Oh. Well. How much ARE they worth THEN?”
Back to the bric-brac table the boxes went.
This discouraging epiphany merged with a subtle other... discouraging epiphany. That epiphany is that ...going to the largest and oldest sea captain’s mansion’s estate contents that is “FULL OF ANTIQUES”...; to go into the ...dining room... and fill banana boxes of old dirty dishes and... carry those full banana boxes “out”... “is work”. Is... ‘it’s hot!’ dirty... work.
IF you are a middle age, middle exercise, middle and upward weight... ‘not properly dressed to do this’ “MY ANKLE”.... woman ‘from home I volunteer” “I THINK WE SHOULD BE WEARING DUST MASKS”.
So they did... wear them... in the dusty, dark, old... dining room of the “Captain” Savage’s “sea captain’s mansion” “SHE LIVES IN THERE LIKE THAT.”
“OH MY GOD.”
The stage was quickly set and the “beggar’s opera” (Hogarth) ...ran amuck. Actual rummaging by the women was ...curtailed by ... ‘not getting dirty’. And... it must be understood... I am describing one, two or three... maybe... two hour ‘work sessions’ ...maybe... of three to four women-as-described-above... maybe... during the ‘three summer months and “FALL” (to Oct. 15th) over a... YEAR AT A TIME... maybe...: MAYBE. That came to ‘an adjustment’. After several years.
The boxes... once full... “are heavy” by that kind of woman’s standard. And dirty. BUT proficiency of filling a banana box ‘improved’ due to the “THEY’RE ANTIQUES” dismissal by the auctioneer as “NO VALUE” (to her auction business) (she did not and has never been to the estate) AND a “just get rid of this clutter” boxing-up crew creed. So MORE... fully packed boxes were generated in these tiny work sessions than had been ‘at first’. The boxes were then ‘have to be moved’.
“Where?” including “We don’t have ROOM” at the historical society AND “Some of that is for the LIBRARY SALE”. And... other... local benefit-by-donation ...options (“THE HOSPITAL SALE”, etc.). The ‘hole in the floor’ ‘was there’ (Part Twenty-Six). These women DO know “benefit-by-donation” “THEY NEED DONATIONS” ...well.
“How?” can we get these boxes moved to the “Where?”.
“We’ll JUST PUT THEM IN DADDY’S GARAGE by the BARN.”
THAT...is the first time in this tale where ‘the outbuildings’ at the Savage Estate have been mentioned. THAT... means that this is the first time that the enclosed ‘farm’ buildings and their spaces... the size of a 19th century crossroad’s village and ...LOOKING LIKE a 19th century crossroad’s village... have been noticed in this tale. They were noticed alright. The cleanout brigade viewed “Daddy’s Garage” from the safety of a window in one of the rooms of the mansion. It was a ‘little building’ with a double door exactly the size of a 1937 Chevrolet (the door and the building too).
“WE CAN PUT ALL OF THIS (banana boxed clutter) IN THERE. I’ll tell Hiram to MOVE THEM. THERE. ALSO... IT’S UNLOCKED. You can GET THEM (any boxes) WHEN EVER YOU WANT”.
Well... SOMEBODY’S been taking care of the ‘property’ and the ‘buildings’ all these years. RIGHT? I hadn’t discovered Hiram yet. Hiram... HAD discovered me though. Right away... on my first ever visit... to the Savage mansion... Hiram was on top of me. “Always watch your flanks.”
So Hiram moved the boxes... to “Daddy’s garage”. One more little point... of adjustment... about these boxes: They (the clutter cleanout crew) had exhausted the cupboards of old dishes in the dining room. NO PROBLEM for Helen was more than willing to just start boxing up
In the Mansion “HOW ABOUT THIS”.
“IT’S JUST TRASH THROW IT OUT”.
Hiram moved THAT ‘yucky’ TOO. To the GARAGE. Actual ‘trash pickup’ never occurred to the clutter cleanout crew. I mean... who DOES ‘take out the garbage’ at the Savage mansion?
And HE... moving the banana boxes and ‘yucky’... doesn’t see any difference ‘of that’... so figures it is ALL suppose to go to the garage and... AND?
The garage starts ‘getting full’ of ‘yucky’.
After ...a few YEARS... of this ...adjusted processing of ‘clutter’ ‘cleanup’ HIRAM discerns while helping ‘the lady with (Mr.) Carol’ that... the reason that so much is ‘still there’ and ‘building up’ is because who ever the lady was there that time said... “I don’t want it.”
“Oh”.... “I suppose...” says Hiram while reflectively over viewing the garage contents.
“You know Hiram... you MAY be able to sell some of this old JUNK to the ANTIQUES MAN that’s around HERE. HE BUYS a lot of the ANTIQUES in here (the banana boxes) from our SALES. HAVE you ever thought of doing THAT Hiram?” says the lady. Hiram hadn’t thought of THAT but he had thought of ME (the ANTIQUE MAN) because he
“USED to see THAT FELLA around HERE. SEVERAL TIMES. I know who YOU MEAN.”
That ‘starting gate’ opened to a ‘next gate’:
“YES HIRAM... WE COULD do THAT with... HOW MUCH IS IN THERE NOW? PRETTY FULL? You’ve just been putting it ALL in there. OHMYGOD.”
So the curt and tonally SHORT telephone message ‘out of the blue’ from Helen was “PLEASE STOP BY” “IF I AM NOT” “HIRAM” “HIS TRUCK IS PARKED OUT BACK” “WILL SHOW YOU” “LET ME KNOW” “JUST TELL HIM” “DON’T BE embarrassed to SAY IT’S ALL TRASH”.
I didn’t know it was previously denoted as ‘all trash’. I didn’t know this is where ‘they’ “Keep their (banana) boxes in HERE.”
Said Hiram... to me... when he opened up the double doors of the garage. And stood looking me over... in his blue work clothes. Old boots, leather belt with brass buckle, clean white undershirt neck line visible, matching blue ball cap style work hat, no gloves, no... facial hair... full head of hair... and nothing else ...except his probing blue eyes seeming to be working a little too hard and looking me over from his ‘walking stick’ (the insect, not a ‘cane’) posture. He looked about sixty but had just turned... eighty.
I had stepped forward to the center isle between the two rows of ‘some’ packed banana boxes. Past these rectangular blocks of order... dark dirty chaos erupted as a modest mound of ... ‘junk’. It was ‘old’ “obviously antiques” ‘junk’.
“I knew your mother.” Hiram says to my right side. I look at him. “We was at the academy together... I was friends of BUDDY’S.”
My mother has been dead for over forty years. Rural, local, older, old and old village; old of the area’ “people” telling me they knew my mother... when we are standing before an open outbuilding door... just at the moment I’m about to ‘buy’ ‘antiques’ is... NORMAL to me so...
I had to move on to deep recall of “Buddy” “huh?” “Ah...” (yeah that’s right the guy he was a HER BEAU sort of at the academy I THINK but ...snowshoeing, skiing together. Blueberry picking on the MOUNTAIN. That... ah... GUY?”
“BUDDY; HE WAS AT PEARL. ON the ARIZONA. STILL ON IT FAR AS I KNOW. I remember your GRANDFATHER at the DEDICATON (of the WWII dead from the village monument) said THE FINEST WORDS I EVER HEARD A MAN SAY about BUDDY. Do you THINK HIS BONES are STILL THERE NOW?” I was looking at Hiram dead square in... our... eyes when he said that.
One has be from Maine to get what just happened here (there? where ever?) For example, using the antiques in the garage... I could “HAVE THAT SHIT” and “I’LL HELP YOU LOAD IT”... pretty much covers it.
So... keeping that in mind... and without further discussion of this common point in the universe that bound us (Hiram and I) together... EVER again EVER... excepting a perpetual array of ‘sort of’ stories... that always seemed to include a Buddy... or my mother... dropped skillfully by Hiram at opportune moments of us... together... working... alone...: One has to be from Maine to get this... too.
In this skimpy of ‘seconds past’ Hiram and I formed a dynamic partnership carrying to this day and I fully understood THIS GATE OPENED right then... so quick-stepped inspected the ‘junk’. That included a ‘go for the whole garage contents’ “Do it FASTER: the thirty second clock is on”.
“ONE HUNDRED BUCKS ...we’ll tell her and see if that launches a boat.” I ...declare.
Hiram, to no surprise, was quashing a physical reaction similar to a Jap zero smashing into the side of the Arizona ‘at Pearl’. He did fine at that but did obviously ‘dribble’ on the swallowing the words ONE HUNDRED. This dribbling state helped me SLIP the “That old GATE too. Is part of it.” ...STATEMENT OF INCLUSION.
Hiram looked further to the deep center back wall... to the ‘old gate’. “Always been there.” he said. That’s actually a definitive comment containing a lot of information then rattling through HIS... hidden by encryption... inner mind. I let that go. The story began with him putting the gate ‘back there’ FIFTY years ago “after the war in the spring got knock off in the winter always been there was on the old fence took that down 1958 all rotten cept for the posts still up in the barn now I DON’T KNOW IF SHE (Helen) EVEN KNOWS THAT’S IN HERE.” OR what... it is:
I got it; the old gate... that was on the fence facing along the (old) road... to the front path... leading to the front door... of the Captain Savage Mansion. It is the original... old ...handmade... gate... to the mansion. It’s clearly visible in numerous old photographs of the mansion taken from the road ... that date from the 1870’s to “IT WAS DOWN BEFORE THE WAR DADDY TOOK IT DOWN”. Hiram took the gate off after the War... and the fence down in 1958. Trust me; he says so. He would know.
We... Hiram and I... went up to the mansion and to FRONT DOOR where Hiram “never GO IN this way”. (Helen just yells for him out the back from the kitchen door after “seeing if his truck is there”). KNOCKING LOUDLY I DO and bare footed feet patter answer by opening inward the large front door with Hiram and I standing on the front steps... the old granite front steps with the old painted black wrought iron boot scrappers at each side edge (Part One)... . “ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS” I say “FOR ALL OF IT.
“DADDY’S GARAGE?” says Helen.
“JUST THE RUBBISH. NOT THE BOXES.” I continue.
“THAT’S TRASH?” Helen says while looking over at Hiram whose turned back into a walking stick. “THAT’S REAL MONEY SONNY?” she continues turning back to me.
“Cash.” I say.
Helen looks a Hiram again then, quickly, out past him to the front yard. “HELP HIM CLEAN IT OUT Hiram”.
“That’s for the whole contents; I’ll empty the building except for the boxes.”
Helen looks at me. Then at Hiram. Hiram perfectly resembles a walking stick. “FINE.” she says.
“Fine” I say. “Probably take an hour.” I continue while counting out and handing to Helen five twenty dollar bills.
The money is folded by her fingers. The front door closed. Hiram and I moved my truck to ‘backed up’. That; my truck... and its tires, mileage, GAS mileage, service history, mishaps, dents and... “That sandwich your lunch?” ...was ‘hashed’. I put the old gate in first. I didn’t like doing it for I did not cover it (to protect it). I didn’t dare show