The Ira Benjamin House Contents Sale, Ongoing
"I Never Much Cared For Her"
The Ira Benjamin house and its contents had moved quietly along in ownership over the past fifteen years. No one would notice that the house and its contents was... moving quietly along.
When Ira died, his wife of sixty-three years continued to live in the house with the whole of the contents. She inherited this whole; the house and contents. No one would notice this. After twelve years, bringing her to seventy-five years as Ira’s wife and of living in the Ira Benjamin house with its contents, she was moved out of the house by one of their children, a daughter, to a nearby senior’s residency; an assisted living center of local preference. After three years of senior residency, Ira’s wife died peacefully on Ground Hog Day. That morning. Before the snow storm.
Two more snow storms followed in the next two weeks. The Ira Benjamin house, when I would drive by it during that month, became snowed-in. No one would notice this. Except me. Until Ira’s wife’s death, the Ira Benjamin house was always plowed-out after each storm. In fact, I deduced in my mind, this ‘snowed-in’ would be the first time
...ever... that the Ira Benjamin house... had ever... not been plowed (or ‘dug’) out and allowed to be ‘snowed in’.
I never much cared for Ira. Ira’s wife. Or the daughter. Ira, I had ‘given up on’ trying to get into his house, in my capacity of being an antiques picker, over a quarter of a century ago. Ira would not budge toward the doorway of any building on his property let alone the ‘let me in the house’ doorway when I would periodically stop to poke him. Poke him it was for he behaved, when I would stop, like a porcupine ‘caught out’. He’d roll into a ball and stick all his quills out. Until I left. I gave up.
His wife would watch us speak, say nothing and move off should we; Ira and I speaking, happen to even ever slightly move in her direction. She was a Christian woman they said. But she never went to church.
“Keeps her chickens. About it.” I was always told. “A fair girl when she was young. Turned henny now”. I was always told.
I never went to the door when she lived there alone; after she inherited the house and its contents. This house and contents no one noticed. But me.
I kept my eye steady on it. Pickers do that with old houses full of old contents that have stopped being plowed-out after being a ‘kept my eye on it’ for at least a quarter of a century before. It’s easier to ‘keep eye’ then it is to ‘not’. I, for example, will notice that a brick that was ‘set’ on the front doorstep of an ‘old place’ has been ‘moved’. Even slightly. I will respond to that ‘I notice’ by ...almost ritualistically... driving by ‘more often’ to ‘look’. I wasn’t watching for a brick to move at old Ira’s. I was watching for the front door of that old homestead to be... wide open.
But that February, that door... was snowed in.
I heard that the daughter said the family ‘wouldn’t keep it’; the Ira Benjamin house. “Practically the oldest house in the TOWN.” I was told. This utterance thrown toward me was followed by an ‘eyeball you for your reaction’ pause... that continued to a longer pause that was then finalized with the query... of an utterance... of.... “You ever GET in THERE?”
“Going IN this TUESDAY.”
“Told her I’d PUNCH a HOLE into the SHED and we’ll GO FROM THERE.”
‘Her’ was Ira’s daughter.
I never much cared for her.
Tuesday was ‘cold’ (8 degrees above zero). That was fine for that means anything I ‘hit’ with the plow ‘will move’ especially as the not ‘plowed-out’ state
Of the Ira Benjamin
Allowed that... all the ‘snow there’... was not ‘packed in there’ ‘frozen solid’.
We (the daughter and I) never discussed that after I punched open to the shed doors. She had the key to them right out and we went right in ‘through there that way’. Going in the front door of the ...old Ira Benjamin place... would have to wait.
I was not told why I was ‘going in there’. I did not ask. I did not ask to be told. I did not
Have very high expectations of ...any ...thing ‘coming out of there’. “Today”
The daughter said
“WE WILL JUST LOOK AROUND. I don’t know yet if I even need your help”.
“Need your help”. “Even”. That was good enough for me. I was pretty sure I did not “need your help” “even” either and hoped, once I could get to roaming room to room at a surprisingly fast pace, I would ‘be back outside’ before
This ‘I never cared much for her’ daughter knocked me out cold... in the cold... with some
BOTHER. “I know how to get out of a cold house faster than she does” I banked myself with. I was not going to get
To the Ira Benjamin place and its
“Pretty darn cold in here today.” She said.
I was already through the kitchen and on toward the front of the... Colonial Homestead.
“IF YOU SEE ANYTHING I SHOULD KNOW ABOUT YOU TELL ME.” I wasn’t seeing anything anyone but I, an antiquarian, ‘should know about’ so I wouldn’t
BOTHER anyone with that.
I could tell my breath was taken away by a general overall sense that ‘no one’ has ‘touched a friggen thing’ ‘in this place’ in
Two hundred years
Give or take a century.
“You got it packed” I said seeing my breath again clouding in front of me”
“I KNOW THAT A LOT OF THIS IS GOING TO BE VALUBLE. We will be selling most of it in the spring but I know that there are some things that Edna will KEEP she says so THOSE I want to know their VALUE”.
I didn’t say anything to that. I kept my back to her. I kept on to the stairs to the upstairs and... ascended.
She come along. I could hear her start up when I was almost to the top
Of the stairs.
Both front rooms:
One was their bedroom.
One was her dressing room.
There was a small Federal Neoclassical gilt wood looking glass hanging between the windows in the dressing room. I didn’t say anything about it. She (the daughter) just stepped to the doorway while I bounced around the room’s walls and opened and closed the two closet doors and
Said “Jesus Christ its freezing in here today”. That appraisal of the contents of these two rooms sufficed for evidently Edna didn’t want the looking glass or I would have
Heard about that?
I knew the tall clock was coming right along. “Well.” I said standing before it on the stair landing “Tell her to tell you how much (she’ll pay) and then say that’s not enough and to pay more. When she says what she’ll pay more then say ‘well ok” and take her money”.
I could see that was not going to ‘pass muster’ but I didn’t append my ‘appraisal’. I stepped away from the tall clock and started back down the stairs. The daughter remained standing before the clock. “But don’t you think that it’s worth a lot of money?” she said.
“Oh of course.” I said, continuing down the stairs. “That’s pretty obvious that anyone will THINK that.”
“Well I just feel she shouldn’t just get it.”
“Yep. Make her pay.”
“Well how much should she pay.”
“Not as much as she will pay if you ask her to say
How much she’ll pay.”
Now, over two years later, that clock is
“Still being worked on”
And is still
Screwed to the wall
At the top of the stairs
I don’t care whether you know your clocks so by summarial adjunct I bump you along by noticing that clock to be an old ‘wooden works’ movement; a “Silas Hoadley” (Plymouth, CT) movement that would have been peddled from a ...Connecticut clock peddler’s cart... in the farm yard. In to town they (1835 ish) would have ‘hauled’ that movement and “HAD” the local cabinet maker (coffin maker?) “MAKE” a “CASE” for “IT”; for this crummy low rent “never worked right’ ‘wooden’ movement. Screwing the clock to the wall (a ‘grandfather clock’) was ‘to level it’ so ‘it will run’. It was not screwed to the wall to prevent it from falling over. It was a crummy ‘clock’ from day one. IF one is real lucky one MIGHT find one of these movements is a ‘good country (“paint decorated”) case’. But, as here at the stair crest, “probably not”. Meaning “a six hundred dollar clock” with that meaning “I am not going to pay (anywhere near) that”.
So I leave that for Edna