The Silver Twin's ...Place...
In New England Decorative Art
Part Nine (A)
The frontier of ‘The Silver Twin’s ...Place... in New England Decorative Art... unravels. That unraveling becomes a hiatus for critical presentation (of New England decorative art) in my study. The hiatus quickly becomes a continuum, then the ‘norm’. And then ‘a fixed end’. So I have to report that. “That” begins with “closed up” (Part Four).
The house (Silver Twin’s Place) was “closed up” by the family. That was a different status of the homestead site to them than it was to me. “Closed up” to the heirs (“family”) was a term meaning “under control there” (everything). To me it was ‘closed up’ as in ‘put away’ and then ‘left alone’. This lead, in my understanding, to ‘abandoned’ and then ‘gone’. I did not have any problem supporting my understanding; a periodic tour of the homestead site demonstrated my understanding as a work in progress. They (heirs and family) also found that their ‘closed up’ supported and affirmed their understanding that the “place” was ‘under control’. Two trains running on the same track?
Who says what to who about any of this?
After I purloined the sap yoke from the shed wall under the collapsed roof... did they ‘fix’ ‘the roof’? (Part Four)
Eventually (five to seven years) they “took down” and “removed” the shed. The house was no longer connected to the barn except by... the rolled-into-place granite field stone that had been “the shed’s” “foundation”. Except in winter, this stone work is still visible. To this day.
How do I know that? Because I cannot walk around the homestead site without seeing the rolled field stone foundation and ...reflecting how I stood on the floor held up by that foundation
During my life time.
It wasn’t a fair solution you say? This isn’t about ‘fair’. This is about New England decorative art... and... the Silver Twin’s Place. Are the rolled field stone foundations of the shed and the barn a New England decorative art? An aesthetic? You tell me. And do not worry: One may stop the train and get off.
Any time you want.
So I was on the train. By choice. My working policy; my professional dynamic, was “what ever say nothing”. That worked. The whole place is closed up and rotting into the ground and I’m the only person other than family that is ‘in there’.
I forgot to mention the ‘got in’. That’s the other people the family (heirs) called ‘people got in’. This quickly was appended with “again”; “people got in again”. That was usually in the winter. “They” “drove snow machines up there” and “got in” and “took things”. Sort of.
That last; ‘sort of’, is my critical observation. As antiquarian stealing ...they ‘didn’t know what they were doing’ so ‘don’t know what to take’ and that, pretty much, was the cap on that. The more often they ‘got in’ the less they ‘took’. But... I have to include them in fairness for ...I was not the only person to ‘got in’ there (the ‘closed up’ homestead property) ‘beside family’.
The heirs did not take the barn down. It ‘collapsed’ and was discovered to be collapsed “after the storm”. That took, like... ten years... of ‘closed up’. Actually probably longer; twelve years. When it ‘collapsed’ it was no longer ‘closed up’ and was ‘dangerous’. That’s what the family said. They were completely satisfied with that. “Wasn’t a very big barn anyway”. I remind that the early colonial era barns were ‘small’ because ...they were built by one man with one axe... et al. A ‘barn raising’ of the grand scale on a huge barn come about by the Civil War. Early one man one axe Colonial barns vanish by 1815... pretty much. If one ‘sees’ an ‘old barn’, remind the self that the... smaller a barn is... the older it possibly is. For example, the ‘earliest’ barn ‘on a place was often replaced with a later... larger barn BUT that early barn is still “found” on the property being ‘used’ as a ‘shed’ or ‘built in’ to ‘something.
Anyway; the Silver Twin’s Place barn collapsed. And rotted ‘down’. There is actually still a little piece or two of it left “up there” (at the Silver Twin’s Place site). I hope I got everything out of that barn I wanted... don’t you? This dangerous collapse allows me to consider my return from the hiatus to ... critical commentary of the New England Decorative Art... I found... in the Silver Twin’s Place... and that aesthetic.
Yes... that is where I left off (at the end of Part Eight). And the barn was still standing “then” when I ‘went back’ to ‘look’ for the aesthetic I said I ‘wanted’.
That day; the day I return to... I was ‘in the barn’ with the family member... (heir). He lived ‘down’ the road and ‘liked’ ‘coming up to the place’ ‘with me’. The first few times his wife came along but, after that, she didn’t. Just the two of us out in the ...Silver Twin’s Place barn... that day. “GETTING A LITTLE SOFT” (meaning ‘it’s rotting into the ground) he said... candidly... to me. I’d noticed that too... as I have suggested.
The barn was “empty”. The family had “cleaned it out” a “long time ago” “before” “You (me) came along”. He said.
“I never went up there.” I said gesturing to the worn rough and tumble “STAIRS” to the (hay) “LOFT”. “NOTHING UP THERE ‘CEPT ROTTEN HAY”. I went up. The stairs. He stayed down below. I didn’t stop at the top of the stairs. That’s a rule of doing this (being an antiques picker in old barns): “KEEP” ... “GOING”. Why? He’s still down stairs. I’m way at the back of the barn “already”. I cannot find antiques in an old barn without going where ‘they could be’. Now. Fast.
I get back to the barn’s back and there is rough and tumble rotting hay piles almost to the rear ‘wall’ of the “I CAN SEE LIGHT” rotting roof old barn and that light shows a
Scattered gathering of old ... splint wood woven... baskets: OLD New England splint ash wood hand made farm and family utility baskets... all long used, worn and broken and then
Put away ...right here... and
Left alone ...right here...
Until right now when I show up and
“SEE: THERE IS NOTHING UP THERE.”
“WHAT ABOUT THE BROKEN BASKESTS?”
“THOSE ARE BROKEN NO ONE WANTED THEM”
“A BUCK A PIECE. I’LL PAY ONE DOLLAR EACH”
“TWO BUCKS EACH FOR THE CHAIRS”.
“THEM BROKEN CHAIRS.”
“I SEE THAT”.
Twenty one dollars at the bottom of the barn stairs later I may finally move my discourse BACK to old New England Decorative Art and leave off the ‘rotting collapse hiatus’ of the Silver Twin’s Place.
Now...: I know a lot about old broken New England Homestead farm splint woven handmade utility baskets AND I know very well too that there is very... very-very... little written as reference to this specific New England design object. I know “a lot” and there is “very-very” little.
For start, the most heard stated fact I hear about the design form I am talking about; the old farm basket, is “IT” “IS” “BROKEN”. Thereafter the basket is dismissed as an object... and dismissed as an Old New England Decorative Art... design object. Okay so: A lot of times the ‘old basket’ being examined is not “BROKEN” but is actually “WORN” “THROUGH” “FROM USE”. Skipping for the moment the “making” of’ the basket... just how long do you think it would take you to use a basket you made so that, from your usage, that basket became “worn through from use”. Have you ever done that; worn a basket you made by hand; worn it through from your usage?
So I will tell you... that... depending on how ‘rugged’ a basket is... it takes YOU and your subsequent generations ‘a long time’ to wear out a basket so that a viewer of that basket will tell you “TOO BAD IT’S BROKEN”.
So right here I tell you that the very essence of the aesthetic of the design form of the old New England handmade splint wood basket is from the ‘worn through from use’ of the original hand made homestead woven splint farm basket. The wear from usage IS SUPPOSED TO BE THERE... if one wants to have a true old New England homestead used basket. And more. So now I have to work with ‘this’ (“that”).