Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Stock Your Shelves and Stuff Your Stockings at The Rogue Carrot

Dawn Bennett at The Rogue Carrot

ALFRED: A small, local business is more community than address. Sometimes it’s an interconnected weave of many families, farms and workshops and it brings income, warmth and nourishment to its village and neighborhood.
            Dawn Bennett is looking forward to her 5th Christmas at The Rogue Carrot, a small, natural grocery store and artisan outlet on West University Street in Alfred. She hopes you’ll stop in to see her because she offers much more than groceries and to entice you she is hosting a special event on Thursday, December 20. It’s her Stock Up & Stuff your Stockings Sale. It starts at 10 am but some of the best deals coincide with the Alfred Art Walk from 5 to 8 pm that day.
            Bennett said, “When you shop at the Rogue Carrot you support many local people. We have local honey, maple syrup, art, pottery, garlic, eggs, meats, milled flours and baked goods. We even have home baked dog treats in cheddar cheese, chicken, bacon and peanut butter, made just the way elves make them if Santa freed some up to live in Alfred.”
            The Rogue Carrot opens at 10 on December 20. During the day there will be grocery items offered at 20% off. Thursday is always Fish Day and Italian Bread Day as well as restocking day.
            At 5 that evening StoneFlowerPottery will present 25 pieces of pottery priced at $5 each. This is meant to help people on a limited budget find handmade, last minute gifts with a home town touch. Included will be soup or cereal bowls, vases, lace print plates, and other functional items.
            Bennett will serve free hot beverages and cookies from 5 pm until they are scooped up. Enjoy nibbling while choosing from among these stocking stuffers: Dr. Bonner’s soaps, cookies, brownies and other individually wrapped treats, chocolate covered cashews, almonds and/or espresso beans or chocolate candy bars.
            You can find tins of slippery elm lozenges or purchase licorice sticks for 25 cents each. These are not candy strips but sticks from the woody tropical plant that gives us licorice. 
           Other small gifts are mommy vases, small jars of honey and jars of hot chocolate mix. Handmade small items are earrings, many from upcycled materials, as well as bracelets and necklaces.
            If your gift giving aims beyond stocking stuffing, choose mugs or bowls made by any of the local potters represented on the shelves or select an Alfred tote bag or T-shirt (adult or child). To be remembered on laundry day all year long gift someone wool dryer balls to thump their clothing dry or buy some warm flip-top mittens in a bright color.
            Look at your house or a friend’s house for colors and compliment them with a hand woven rug made by an Amish neighbor. Suitable for any décor would be The Power of Goodness edited by Nadine Hoover or a book written and illustrated by Cyan Corwine. You can read, bake or eat while listening to Emma Tyme’s CD.
            Need more enticement? How about some hand blown glass tree ornaments? There’s an ATM onsite to help you enjoy this special sale. It starts on December 20 but some of the groceries and pottery will remain at 20% off until The Rogue Carrot closes at 1 pm on December 24. The store will be closed to give everyone there a break and to allow for the dreaded inventory but you’ll find them open again at 10 am on January 11.
            After you shop, be sure to read the joke at the end of your receipt. Stop by 14 ½ West University, check The Rogue Carrot on Facebook or call (607) 587-8840 and help make this Christmas warm for local businesses.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Little Gallery's New Space

WELLSVILLE: The Little Gallery is in a new place but the mission is the same, support for the Hart Comfort House in Wellsville. Barb Graves, owner of LaGra Salon and DaySpa started the Little Gallery in November 2015 in order to help a friend. Carol Riggs had a small shop in Cuba but she took off a month to have surgery. The month turned into a year because the surgery turned into a major struggle taking so much time that the business fell away from Riggs but her inventory remained.
                Barb Graves knew, at the time, that the florist in her building was moving to a new location so she had the idea to offer that space in friendship but needed more to fill the area. She asked a member of Allegany Artisans for help and so encouraged, moved forward. The florist was out on a Saturday and the Little Gallery opened on Monday, nameless but determined to work out the details.
                Formally, it is The Little Gallery Arts and Antiques and now it has a front row presence in the LaGra building. You still need to enter through LaGra but instead of walking through the salon, just pass the desk and turn right. The doorway there once led to Curves then became a pop up shop but now it’s The Little Gallery, Wellsville’s giving place for Christmas.
                For all 3 years of this enterprise, Graves has asked for nothing from those selling in her store. She covers the total cost of the area, the utilities and advertising and asks only that a portion of each sale to be donated to the Hart Comfort House.  If you do some of your Christmas shopping there, you can make the total donations made by vendors pass $4000 by the end of this year.
                Rather than listing vendors by name, let me say that you know many of them as Allegany Artisans, Wellsville Art Association members or from their work with the Allegany Arts Association. You’ll find all the names at the store so let’s focus on items. For your home or to gift there are hand-woven kitchen towels, hand sewn dolls or table runners, fabric bowls or wall hangings and handmade pottery and hand painted glassware.  
                Personal adornments include fabric purses and leggings or hand-woven scarves, hand assembled jewelry as well as totally handcrafted upcycled jewelry or the last of a group of handmade plastic pins (you’ve smiled when noticing them on people).  There are ornate, fabric purses and a small collection of music boxes. On the walls are framed photographs and original watercolors or oils or prints of other original paintings or maybe a few things handcrafted anonymously ages ago.
                A beekeeper brings in honey and related products and there is another person who makes soaps and lotions and balms. What else? Antiques. There are some people who have bought and sold antiques but others who have bought and bought now in need of emptying their homes so offer antiques from cast bronze to hand painted china or toys and hand-blown glass.  Occasionally there is furniture and right now there is a lamp with a handcrafted shade and a large cupboard as well as some smaller wooden items.
                There are also items that were purchased for Carol Riggs’ little store in Cuba, the inventory that started the whole idea. The merchandise range is wide and worth a look. The Little Gallery is only open when LaGra Salon is open and that is Tuesday through Saturday opening at 9 am but sometimes sooner. The shop is open till 8 on Thursday but only till 4 on Saturday and till 5 on other days.
                Are you wondering about what will happen to the space behind the salon? Barb Graves, a woman of ideas, will be doing some work to make a large and comfortable gathering area so that wedding parties can eat breakfast and talk as they all get hair and makeup done on that special day.
                Reach LaGra Salon at 585-59301321 or go in person to 21 East State Street in Wellsville. You might check www.lovelagra.com . The Little Gallery is present on the website or a facebook.com/ TheLittleGalleryArtsandAntiques.
                Shop Small. Shop Local. Shop to support The Hart Comfort House.

Earrings by Elaine Hardman

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Alfred State Fraternity at Fassett Greenspace Project

Kalvin  Hodgson

WELLSVILLE: Under a cold and constant rain, a group of Alfred State students brought their strength to the Fassett Greenspace Project to move heavy blocks, pull celery plants, hoist buckets of compost, spread peat moss and dig 6 large holes in what looked to be soil but turned out to be stone and mud.
                Kalvin Hodgson (Brooklyn NY, BA in Business explained that he was with a group from Psi Delta Omega Fraternity. Hodgson said that the brothers focus on activities that would be defined as philanthropy and youth service. In Alfred they often help the Hornell Humane Society.
Brothers and pledges spread compost in
the outer ring.
                They meet with young people in Hornell, interacting with them and playing basketball or other activities but through that they present to their young friends the idea that they too can go to college. It’s always easier to aim high when someone pays attention and tells you it’s possible.
                Kalvin said that he hasn’t heard this from someone yet but he knows others in the fraternity who has been thanked by kids who decided to go to college.
Celery roots are long, fine and extensive.
They hold tight to the soil. It's surprising how
difficult it is pull the plant out.
Quinn and Santos were surprised.
                While this group often goes to Hornell to work, on October 27, they traveled to Wellsille to do some heavy lifting at the Fassett Greenspace Project, ignoring the rain and cold of an early nor’easter.
Jason Boden, Aleczavier Cowans, Jonathan Betances, and
Tariq Yusuf helped dig the holes to place forms for the
Freenotes Harmony Sculptural Instruments.
                These brothers pledge to give 60 hours a year in community service. Jason Bodden (Building Trades, Construction) said that he looks to the group to make life long connections and says that the structure of the house encourages leadership skill development. Fraternity brothers with academic skills share those while others share their athletic skills. He described a defined governing structure that they adhere to with the goal of building character.
                Aleczavier Cowans has a degree in Culinary Arts already but he is still in Alfred working now to get a Bachelor’s in Business and in Tech Management. His family is from Jamaica and they all do a lot of gardening so he was interested in the goals of the Fassett Greenspace Project.
Santos Guevara, Brailen Tejada, Quinn Verpoten
mixing peat moss in with soil and compost.
                10 volunteers from Psi Delta Omega Fraternity spent one of October’s nastiest days helping the Wellsville community along side of four members of the Board of Directors of the project: Andy Glanzman, Cassandra Bull, Murph  Other members of Psi Delta Omega are Robert Smith, James Martin, Santos Guevara, Brailen Tejada, Quinn Verpoten, Tariq Yusuf, and Jonathan Betances.

Axtell and this reporter.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Lion Juice, One Day in Zimbabwe

The Lion Park

A page from Jay's Autobiography
In kindergarten, Jay drew a picture of Africa and told his student teacher about what he had seen.  Concerned because Jay insisted that he spoke from memory and not imagination, the teacher sent home a note. I sent back photos of our trip to Zimbabwe. Far-fetched as it seemed, Jay had spent time in Africa.

We went to Zimbabwe to visit Bill and Lorriane Sheehan. They offered to show us around their adopted home and took us in as family. Bill, as knowledgeable as he is charming, planned our experiences and chauffeured us around rhinos and armed guards to some of the most interesting places that we’ve been. 

The strongest memory for Jay is of his terror at the lion park. Zimbabwe has a lot of national parks and protected areas for animals. One animal that the park rangers try to keep under control is the lion. Lions, predators synonymous with fear and danger, can change an outing to a disaster so lion parks were established. The lions roam freely in the park where, after feeding time, cars full of curious people are allowed to drive. 

We drove there with Jay, Em and me in the back seat, Rick and Bill in front. Bill drove slowly through the gates and brought us to an area where lions were resting on huge boulders and dry sandy soil, a monochrome scene of tans with just a touch of green in the crooks of rocks. 

In hushed voices we shared excitement. A few feet away, lions stared with menacing eyes. We snapped photos of them yawning and showing rows of impressive teeth. Sometimes a lion would roar and give us goose bumps. All together, it was pretty cool.

Then, our feelings changed. A male, huge and powerful, stood and ambled around. We took a photo or two and then realized that this beast wasn’t stretching. He was approaching. As he headed toward the car, Bill cranked his window handle in a frantic blur.

Why Jay was correct to be frightened
Jay became nervous. He knew what lions did and he knew that where we saw a boy, the lion saw a tasty morsel. The lion put his face at our window, closing out any other view. Little Jay’s breathing was rapid. My arms around him offered no reassurance. There were few things that Mom couldn’t deal with but this clearly was one of them.

Jay started screaming when the lion stood on the trunk, letting drool make gooey tracks on the back window as he watched us cowering. Jay wanted to go from the back seat to the front seat or maybe under the front seat. “Drive the car, Uncle Bill! Drive the car!” he demanded.

The other lions, of course, became somewhat interested in the ruckus. Emilie, wide-eyed and nervous, suggested that Jay play his mimbera (thumb piano) to calm the lion. Finally, the lion backed down and returned to his dusty resting place, Jay stopped screaming, Em resumed breathing, and Uncle Bill, calm restored, drove the car.

Friday, August 31, 2018

It's an interesting house and it's for sale

We have a great many handcrafted items in our house. Rick starts with rough cut lumber and makes it into quality, hand crafted furniture but also made several items that are part of the house. My intention is to go through the house to look at all the many repurposed items. Several items are built in and will stay for the next family.

On the porch is a church pew purchased from a small house of worship on Main Street in Wellsville. It is attached to the porch where it has weathered, more or less kindly, for 30 years. What’s interesting is how it has become a point of exchange.

For many years, I would leave empty egg cartons there and Meredith would drop off cartons full of eggs. It was a wonderful way to get eggs. Once I complained of their being difficult to peel and then I learned that fresh eggs need to be not hard boiled but hard steamed in a double boiler. They are different sizes and shades of brown or greenish, sometimes with 2 yolks but occasionally with no yolks. They are an adventure.

The church pew is where I sit to sort garlic and tie it to dry, to shuck peas and beans and to watch the rain.

 People know that I make art from cookie and candy tins so sometimes we come home and find a bag or box of tins on the porch and never learn where they come from. Once, though, the cans were delivered.

After the doorbell rang, I encountered an extraordinarily tall man with a sack of cans. “Hello,” I said.
“Wife told me to bring you these cans ,” he replied.
“Oh, thanks,” I said while opening the door and poising to ask who his wife was.
He pushed the sack into my hands, huffed, “Crazy woman,” and stomped away giving the idea that he wanted to please his wife but found the task very annoying.

Generally, I enter the house at the back door where there is a sunflower tile decorating a door to the basement. When we bought the house there was a plain door at the basement and it had no hint of welcome but one day we were out walking and someone was throwing away this multi-paneled door. We asked if we could have it and came back with the truck.

Sunflower Tile
entry to the basement.
Rick spent a very long time with that door sprucing it up and painting it and he inserted a wood panel where the glass had been. I created the sunflower tile to fit the space and now we have a welcoming door in the hall. 

The back hall has a couple of steps, an annoyance now and then over the years. At the first floor level is a coat rack made from part of the upright piano that came with the house. The hooks are vintage, found on the internet. Above the rack is a mirror from discarded vanity. We took off the side wings to make it small enough to fit. On the wall opposite is what Rick calls my mess and I call my international bell and brush collection.

I think of them as being upcycled because they were all meant for work, not for décor. There’s a scrub brush that I bought in China. Nobody ever meant to that to be admired. It’s not a work of art but of utility still, it’s no Brillo pad and so interested me. Another brush from China is a huge calligraphy brush. It’s likely that was meant to be admired and maybe treasured.

We brought home a wooden sheep bell from Thailand and some hammered metal donkey bells from Peru. They are all handcrafted and marvelous, at least to me.

There’s a  typewriter cleaning brush. Are you old enough to remember typewriters? The keys would get clogged with dust and goo from the ribbons (remember ribbons?) and they needed to be cleaned to make the images sharp again. I wonder if clogged keys made tracing typewriters difficult for police or if that ever mattered.

Rick made all the kitchen cabinetry. He started with
rough cut lumber and penciled drawings.
Our kitchen is large and interesting. The entry door was given to us by Marge Ackerman when we lived on West State Street. Our house once belonged to her parents and her house was built in their backyard by the same people. Our house had French doors that were stored in the basement but were destroyed by the flood of 72 so when she decided to get rid of one of her French doors she gave it to us and when we moved, we took it along and it is now the entry into this house.

Next to that door, is a pair of cupboards that were being put in a dumpster at Andover School. I begged and begged for the cupboards but was told that they had to be destroyed. At the time, our kitchen was dismantled and we had no cupboards. Plates and boxes of cereal were arrayed on the dining room table while waiting for new cupboards to be built.

These cupboards were assembled. They had doors and shelves. What a luxury. I could see all the things piled on our table nicely ordered on those shelves but was given a stern no, I left the area, slumped shouldered and deflated but then someone knocked at the classroom door. I was told that it would be allowed if I could get them out of the dumpster and away within an hour. 

I called Rick barely able to speak. After a breath or two, I managed to string together words woven in sense and he brought the truck. He heave-ho and strained to get the cupboards into the truck. What a find, what a glorious find. He installed the pair, back to back, adding shelves we had purchased from the old Rockwell Department Store when it closed.

The cupboards were built with a deep side and a shallow side. The long door covered the deep side where a coat rod would hold a hanger and teachers would hang their coat or sweater. The floor of the cupboard had a rubber floor mat where teachers were meant to place boots during the day.

The long door had a row of holes drilled top and bottom to allow for air flow to dry coats on rainy or snowy days. What great design.

The shallow side had shelves for books or sundries and had 2 smaller doors, no holes, brass knobs on all.

Half Round window from Wellsville
High School purchased for $1.50.
With one deep and one shallow side, these could be fit together back to back to form a pantry. This was perhaps the most celebrated pantry in Wellsville because all the things previously jumbled on the dining room table were joyfully placed inside.

A bit more about that back hall. It's new. When we bought the house, one entered the side door into a garage and then walked to the back of the garage to find the door into the kitchen. What a chore.

Rick redid the entry way so that we had a back hall with no walking through the garage required. What was once the back stair landing became a kitchen alcove that now holds the stove.

The kitchen was one large room but we put in a t-shaped wall to section it off. In order to keep the sense of light and openness, the wall was fitted with a half round that was once part of the Wellsville High School. It was priced at $1.50 circa 1989.
The Keyless Piano Desk.

Behind the window is our piano desk. It was a working piano that came with the house. We forced the kids to take lessons on it with this deal.

Practice daily without hounding and if you want to quit in 6 months, fine. Practice daily with hounding and you need to take the lessons for a least a year. Emilie was diligent for 6 months and turned in her books. Jay was hounded for a year.

When Rick started breaking it apart to throw it away years later, I said, “Stop. It’s a desk.” He stopped and we made it into my desk. I made tiles to fill in the space under the keys and Rick put plate glass on top of it.

There’s a wood stove insert in the kitchen’s fireplace so we needed a place to hang the poker, bellows (rebuilt with scrap leather from a jacket) and shovel. The shoe last does the job. The pins for hanging the shovel and bellows are cut off nails. The poker hangs in a notch that was filed out.

The spice cabinet door is a glass washboard and the workbench where I make earrings is a rescued bit of bowling alley flooring.

Of course there is art in the kitchen. The first piece of art we bought together was a print of a carrot. Rick made a frame for it from scrap wood over 40 years ago. Above the kitchen window there is a row of animals. Many are birds that I made from upcycled cans. Some were painted by friends. Violet Elnmer paints on cabinet doors or purchased wood while Pauline King paints on the cut offs left over from her husband’s wood turning.

Our son Jay and his wife Lauren drew party chickens for me for one birthday. I framed them with parts of a cookie tin. There’s also a chicken in profile that I found on the side of the highway while walking several years ago.

Our clock was part of a school’s time system. No idea what school. Rick made a battery powered system that takes the place of the office regulator so it can continue to keep time for us. It still makes that clink when the minute hand advances.

The chimney didn't draw well so I made
a terra cotta chimney pot and Rick
installed it.

Our kitchen lamps are all unusual. One was a 1950s produce scale. Rick took it apart and reworked it to make it smaller and added the lamp parts. Emilie played clarinet when she was young and I play flute still. Our woodwind lamps are made of instruments not worth repairing.  I have parts for a meat grinder lamp and a coffee pot lamp but since there is no place to put them, they remain only parts and ideas.
Stair Aprons made by Rick.
Rick made this stained and leaded
glass window inside the
opening between the dining room
and the living room. 
The opening between the front hall and the
living room was just that. An opening. Rick made
this leaded glass window and the side panels
and installed French Doors.

House of Hardman, A great old house for sale

March 2015

Notes on 3180 Riverside Drive, Wellsville, NY 14895, Part III of III
Remembering the house as we look to sell it.

For a period of years, I wrote a column for the Cuba Patriot. These stories happened on Riverside Drive.

The Sewing Room

WELLSILLE:   We knew some of the history of our house from people who studied Wellsville’s past and from the evidence behind the plaster. William Middaugh built the house and planted our towering pines and an apple orchard on the land that was his farm. The first kitchen was a separate building but the current one became a part of the house after machine made nails were about.   
            The fireplaces were replaced with a monstrous, coal furnace and radiators in 1912 about twenty years before Leonard Jones enclosed the porch and planted his hole-in-one tree. Most recently, we ripped the whole thing apart in 1989/90 after our time in Malaysia. 
            We didn’t know about specific rooms but liked combining facts with stories so guessed that one room was used as an examination room by the country doctor who once lived and worked here.
Placed between a large room with an entrance from the porch and a small bathroom that was clearly added later, this room and its closet seemed a likely examination room. For us, it would become a sewing room.
            We ripped out the exterior walls to remove one window and replace another while adding wiring, a heating system and insulation.The interior walls needed some finishing touches so, while the kids were in school, joint compound and I kept company.
            One day after school, Em and Jay found me on the “don’t stand above this step” top of the ladder trying to sand near the ceiling. After saying hello, they went to the kitchen where Emilie hoped my Donna Reed persona had left brownies and I stretched for just one more swipe at a rough spot. They heard the rattle of the ladder, the scream, the thud.
            Jay ran into the room and, as soon as he saw me, started shouting, “Mom, you need 911. Mrs. Ewell told us all about calling 911. Where’s the phone? Mom? Can I call 911? Can I call, Mom? Mom!”
            While I was groaning and trying to think which limb should try to move first, Emilie told Jay to hush and tried to see if I still functioned in some way. My voice refused to make coherent sounds to match the ideas forming in my head. Jay ran for the phone. 
Well, I didn’t need 911 that day but I did need a taller, more stable addition to our stepladder collection so that we could reach the twelve-foot ceiling without clattering to the floor. 
That room seemed suited to wallpaper so we went searching for a deal on discontinued paper. At Black’s store in Olean, a yellow paper with a delicate pattern of pink, blue and white flowers seemed to sing that it was made for a sewing room. At a closeout store, odd lots of paper can get jumbled together but after a thorough search we were able to tote twelve matching rolls of that perfect paper to our car.
Later, Rick and I employed our regular wallpaper hanging system in the sewing room. He measured, then I cut and pasted. He hung, matched and swore while I rinsed the sponge, trashed the scraps and turned up the radio.
            All was going well until I opened the third or fourth roll and realized that there were two different patterns of wallpaper. All had the same batch number, label and colors, but there were two different designs. Now what?
            It actually worked out. There were nine rolls of one design and three of another.  We were able to hang the first design on three walls and the second on the fourth wall. You’d never notice if I didn’t tell you.

            Now, surrounded by yellow wallpaper, there is not only a sewing machine but also a computer. Hanging on the walls are tidbits of family history including old photos, Grandma Rollin’s button top shoes and assorted curiosities from Borneo. Taped inside the closet is Jay’s pledge, signed ten years ago, stating that he will not be angry with me for letting him quit piano lessons.
            I wonder what will be in this room in another fifty years.

A Mouse-Scented Room
WELLSVILLE: In an old, country house with a stone foundation, an occasional mouse will find its way inside and decide that life there is better. Such a mouse will take up residence in a wall and inconveniently die there leaving its legacy, a permeating aroma.
            I knew from experience that burning a candle in such a room would take away the odor so, when my sewing room started to smell like a dead mouse, I tried it. It didn’t work. Several candles burned, sputtered and died with no success.
            I decided to clean and wash everything in that room until the only smells left were Lysol and shine. I started by clearing the table, an area that had become a dumping ground for papers, clothing to be repaired and some small boxes. One box, I discovered, was not empty. 
            It was during our pet mouse population explosion. One mouse had died and Jay, about seven at the time, had confused my sewing room with a mausoleum. He had a dead friend waiting for spring burial in a cardboard box.
            Opening the box reduced my curiosity as totally as relocating the mouse to the shed cured the odor problem.

Apples, Holes and Branches
September 12, 2001

WELLSVILLE: Peter Salvatore came over to ask if we had noticed that the old apple tree had fallen. We hadn’t but Rick got the chain saw and went to work. It was sad to see the tree leave us.  There are memories in its branches and roots.
            The apple tree was one of a pair that the children had climbed when they were young. Our first house had only huge trees with no footholds for easy access so there wasn’t any tree climbing in that yard. Our second house was in Malaysia and there were palm trees, also not easy to climb. But, this house had the old apple trees with lower branches just a hop off the ground and other branches like steps waiting for young explorers. 
            When the house was empty, there were often legs hanging among the branches of that tree. Em would climb up to read and Jay to annoy her.
            We were told that William Middaugh had planted trees and built the house in the mid 1800’s. His apple orchard is now represented by a few trees in our backyard and that belonging to Rob and Tammy Christman. William died in 1881and left the house and all of the trees and land to his children. The farm eventually became our neighborhood and most of the trees were gone by the time we moved in. 
            Several years ago, when our cat, Aloysius died, Jay was heartbroken. I suggested that he go out to the apple tree and dig a hole to bury Aloysius while Em and I prepared a coffin. Jay asked how big a hole was needed and I told him to dig until he felt better.
            When Em and I started our procession to the apple tree, Jay’s legs were as deep in the hole as they had once been high in the tree. We could have buried several animals in that hole. It was an impressive feat considering the many intersecting roots of the tree and the small size of the boy. We held our ceremony and said farewell to Aloysius under the apple tree.
            Another significant event involved a ground hog hole. Ground hogs could dig faster, if not deeper, than Jay and their favorite spot was under that tree. Rick said that the dropping apples provided the ground hog’s version of home delivery so they were endlessly attracted to that spot.
            Rick worked to reduce our ground hog population because of the holes they left everywhere, holes that would break a running child’s leg. He would take a dead ground hogs, stuff it into the hole and shovel in the dirt only to find the hole open and active again in a few days. We lost count over time but at least a dozen ground hogs were buried in the one hole.
            The ground around the tree is lumpy still because Jay’s hole was never smoothly filled in and the ground hog hotel was opened so many times that there is a permanent dip in the soil. Two major branches fell this week and the main trunk is split one would hope that Mr. Middaugh would have been satisfied to know how long the orchard lasted. 

The Tractor and the Pillows, 

published 2001

WELLSVILLE: When we returned to the house in the early afternoon one Saturday, we found all the garage doors open as well as the house doors and all the windows. 
            In the kitchen, the stereo was blaring with window-shaking intensity but no children could be found. Jay was in eighth grade and had spent the night at Max’s house but should have gotten home before us.
The day of the tractor and the pillows.
Max Oglesbee, Em Hardman, Jay Hardman 
            Emilie was a senior but had gone to work at the nursing home that morning. She should have gotten back but her car wasn’t there yet.
            Someone must have opened everything and turned on the music and our money was on Jay. With hands over ears for protection, Rick approached the shaking stereo and put it out of its misery. We walked out to the back yard – easy to do with the door open- and listened.
            There was no sign of anything but a faint howling came from the pinewoods.  Was that also the putting of a tractor motor? Our tractor was missing and so was the cart.
            Could they be working in the woods? Hauling trash? What did they do to make that much trash? Thankfully all the trees were still standing. The howling turned into singing and then the tractor emerged from the woods. Max was driving and Jay was sitting in the cart.
            Their voices were shouting – singing, screaming – and they were so intent in their meandering drive and antics that they never noticed us until they were a few feet away. Their faces changed from joy to pure guilt.
            Other than the leaving the house unattended for who knew how long and blaring the stereo, something else naughty had been done.
            There was a little bit of yelling. You could like guess what was said.
             “What were you doing?”
            “This tractor isn’t a toy.”
            “Are you crazy?”
            They put the tractor away but seemed full of some kind of wild, unreasonable, ready-to-destroy, spring fever energy. I had just bought some new sofa pillows so gave them the old pillows to destroy. It seems reasonable. Little did I know.
            It started with a sort of pillow fight that seemed cute and harmless. By then Em had arrived and I took photos of the three of them with the pillows. Thinking that the world was safe for Jay, Max and others, I put away the things that had been acquired that morning. When I next looked out in the backyard, there was pillow fluff everywhere.
            Max was standing on a stump and had an ax over his head. He jumped off while swinging at the pillow remains that were nearly buried in the soft grass. I could just see someone putting the mattock into a skull or removing chunks of leg so I went out screaming, “Stop!”  a year’s worth of fear in one word.
Far right is Max and goofiest is Jay. I am behind the group. This
is the Wellsville High School Debate Team
in our kitchen with the window rescued from the
high school behind them.
            No, they didn’t think they could hurt themselves or each other. No, it didn’t seem dangerous. Yes, the tools looked like a perfectly reasonable way of dealing with old pillows. No, they hadn’t noticed that there was pillow fluff as far as the eye could see.
            I asked them to pick up the remains of the mutilated pillows that were around the yard. It was difficult. Max had hit a pillow so hard that it was jammed more than a foot down into the ground into a small round hole.
            Astounded, I asked, “Max, that must have been a lot of work to hammer a pillow into the ground so far. Why did you keep pounding on it?  Wasn’t it exhausting?”
            “Yeah,” he said, “now that you mention it, I’m pretty tired.”
            The pillow pieces took a long time to pick up but I didn’t dare leave those boys. They had gone from carousing to pummeling and I was afraid of what was next.
            It was a Jay and Max experience to remember and was, after all, far less stressful than getting a roll of paper towels out of the downstairs toilet. 


For Sale, a Loved Old House

March 2015
Notes on 3180 Riverside Drive, Wellsville, NY 14895, Part I of III

The story of our house stretches into the foggy past with tentacles of fact and fiction lacing through the years. After talking with Joanne Allen and Jane Pinney at the Historical Society Library yesterday, I decided to record some facts and try to pin down a few of the fictions.

Stories that reached us-

            We always thought that our house was built by William Middaugh in the 1800s but a reading of the deed makes that all fuzzy. William bought the property on April 26, 1879 but the first mention of the house is in a record of his son, William C Middaugh, selling the house in 1895.The style seems more suited to 1860 or earlier but we just don’t know.
            We had been told that the house was on William Middaugh’s farm and he hoped that it would be held onto by his children and kept in the family forever. William died in August 1881, having been predeceased by two of his three wives. The first two died in childbirth.

Somewhere there is a photo of William with his shovel standing in front of the pine tree in the front yard. The photo implies that he just planted that tree, a knee-high promise that must have surpassed his goals. Darn but I’ve lost that picture.
Oldest image of the house we have. The tower is gone but
2 of those windows are in the basement still.
                We know from the deed that the house, as of 1895, was on 5 acres of land but the lot was its current size (1.25 acres) when sold in 1907. Certainly neither of those sizes would comprise a farm.
image of original house with tower
            Our house came with a copy of a page from William Middaugh’s story for his children. The story included an image of our house with who we assumed was William Middaugh standing on the porch. He can’t have been the builder. Timing just doesn’t work out so the both the date of construction and the person behind the building of our house will remain a mystery
            The photo shows some tiny pine trees. The one near the house now towers over our house with a trunk of 160 inches circumference at the base. The title of the picture is “The Last Home.”

            In the picture, the house stands proudly with the front door under a small tower. The tower's top floor has double, round-topped windows on each side. Two of those windows are still in our basement but the tower is long gone. Chopped off, cast aside, and discarded for whatever reason we have often thought it would have been fun to have it reproduced but the cost and turmoil has made that not so.

Following is the statement William left for his children.

“I have to think I can leave my children with all the property necessary to help them through this world. They have a second time been deprived of a mother’s care and counsel, my second wife being buried just twenty-five years from my first wife’s burial. I hope as my children read this over and see the trials and afflictions I have passes (sic) through in my life to secure the property I now leave for them, they will appreciate it and keep and protect it from debt and mortgage and hold it as I have done as long as they live.
            I have tried to do my duty by my children as I saw it as near as I could –although you may not realize it – and I hope they can and will make good use of it. I again entreat of you to hold and not sell these old family farms that I have cherished so much. Now children while I do not wish you to labor as I have, I do entreat of you all to be honest, industrious and straight-forward. Be true to yourselves and then you will be true to others. I say again be saving and not squander what has come to you so easily, for my experience teaches me, that it is no easy matter to accumulate property and keep it without experience and economy. When I say be economical, I do not mean be little and penurious. I would have you be benevolent when it is a duty as many cases it is, and aid worthy objects. I have always meant to practice that in both prosperity and adversity, which is the duty of all good citizens.”

            William died in this home on Riverside on August 22, 1881 and was buried at Knights Creek Cemetery in Scio, NY. One of his 9 children said, “Father was a man of kind and forgiving heart, was always ready to lend a helping hand to those in need.”
                We were told that the house was a stop for the Underground Railroad and that people feeling slavery would have walked the riverbed at night and climbed up to the house before daylight to hide in the crawl space under the living room. This may be total fabrication. Houses in Alfred have tunnels that establish them as true stops but we found no tunnel or evidence thereof and the river is on the other side of the road though, of course, back then the road might have been elsewhere and there were no houses on the riverside of the road.
            On the land that roots this house, there are the remains of the farm’s apple orchard. Most of the trees are in the neighboring yard, belonging at this time Rob and Tammy Christman. 
The house in 2008
             One year a balloon’s ropes became tangled in one of those apple trees. It happened to be while Dr. Jim Edmonston had a “cherry picker” truck at his house so he drove it over and used the cherry picker to undo the ropes and set the balloon free.
            A story about our apple tree was published years ago in the Cuba Patriot, The Story Jar Column (Apples, Holes and Branches) and is included here as an appendix.
            Another remaining farm feature is the towering pear tree near the road. It is an ancient variety of pear that would have been harvested by Native Americans, we are told. These pears, dense golf-ball sized fruits that we twist our ankles on in the fall, must be cooked to be edible. That part is certainly true.
            Ethyl Richardson was our neighbor when we moved into this house in 1989 and it is her house that now shelters the Christman family. Ethyl told us that our house once was used by a doctor. This may not be true because the house that was on that property prior to the existing house was said to be owned by 2 doctors and how many doctors would there have been on this street in the late 1880s?
            (In the late 1990s, Dr. James Edmonston lived across the street from Dr. Andrew Colletta while Dr. Aziz lived down the road so one never knows.)
            When we moved into our house, it was a structure of doors. The front porch had 4 doors facing the road. Two French doors could be opened from the living room, likely to air the house in the summer and certainly to admit drafts in the winter. They were replaced with windows.
Extra doors offered at a rummage sale
            Another was the front door to the house that opened into the front hall and the fourth was the door on the side of the wrap-around porch that entered into the office.  One entered that office (I can picture a huge oak desk and a swivel chair but that is totally my imagination at work.) and then advanced to the examination room which led to a choice of doors – household kitchen or lavatory (now laundry room).
            There were 4 doorways from the dining room. Why cannot be imagined. One was an open archway to the living room. Another was a swinging door to the kitchen. Sensible, reasonable points of passage, these remain while the others are gone.
            There were 2 doors from the dining room to the doctor’s office. That office also had a door to the front hall, the living room and what we saw as the examination room. Someone must have loved doors or disdained walls. Whatever the original intent of the floor plan, the current plan has fewer doors.
            Leonard B. and Edna M. Jones bought the house on June 6, 1955 and lived at 3180 Riverside until they sold it to Robert H. and Louise H. Walpole on July 27, 1965. They left the pine tree behind our wood shed. It was planted to celebrate Leonard’s hole-in-one at the golf course down the road. Ethyl said that Leonard was the one who enclosed our back porch to enlarge the kitchen where he installed a wood burning fireplace. 
            The Jones family sold the house to Walpole family. Robert Walpole cheerfully commented that he never had to do a bit of maintenance on the building for the entire 25 years he lived there. When Rick and I bought it, there were some bits of maintenance required so we gutted and rebuilt the place.
            Gutting a house opens up pages of history. We didn't find anything valuable in the walls but we did find details.
            The following things we know from personal experience - The rear second floor bathroom was an odd shape. There was a space unaccounted for, a space about the size of a shower. Rick thought that maybe someone's Aunt Matilda was buried in the wall but when he opened it, he found a shower. It seems that there was an issue with the drain so the water was cut off and the shower was encased in drywall and eliminating further plumbing work.  
                The closet, in what is now the pottery room, had markings on the wall showing that it once was a stairway to the second floor. The wall at the kitchen end of the dining room was once the back wall of the house. When the main house was built, it was made of valuable hand cut nails. Settlers in the west would have burned their homes down and sifted through the ashes to recover such nails because they were so precious at that time.
                The kitchen and its second floor were added later. This is supported by the fact that, in the kitchen wing, the two by fours are actually two inches by four inches and are built with factory made nails. The kitchen originally ended at the stub wall location and the rear of the kitchen was an enclosed porch. The upstairs was the full length of the addition as it is now.
                The second floor over the kitchen was a three-room apartment with a space heater when we moved in. It was referred to as the “servant’s quarters” and we were told that Leonard Jones’s nephew lived there for a while.
                The laundry room gave us pause. Ethyl told us that Leonard Jones put that little room on the side of the kitchen. She didn’t tell us that he did it by recycling some other house.
                We were teaching all day and working on the house nights and weekends and so exhausted all the time that we didn’t think well. Rick said it first. “The wall has plaster over lath on both sides
                The plaster “dripped” upward. Odd things happen in old houses but it is rare that gravity would reverse but with a little reasoning it was clear that the exterior walls were once interior walls.  Those walls were built somewhere else, carted to this location and installed upside down to create a bathroom.  Waste not, want not.
            The house underwent major renovations in 1912, the date stamped on the drywall. Two things surprised me about that. First that drywall was dated and the other that drywall was in use that long ago when real plasters were common folk. We think that’s when central heading was installed. Clearly there were chimneys in most rooms at some point and we removed more leaving only 2 – living room and kitchen.
            In 1989 the furnace was a huge metal monster designed to burn coal but converted to natural gas. The pilot light was a 2-foot pipe with holes the length of it so that it burned significant amounts of fuel just to keep a flame at the ready. We replaced the furnace and the radiators with a hot water baseboard system, cutting fuel consumption considerably and then replaced it all again 2013. Our new system constantly measures temperatures inside and out and keeps the house cozy for 1/3 less fuel.
            Those interior walls taken from another house, brought to this house and flipped upside down and then used to construct the exterior walls of a full bathroom which now is remade into a nicely insulated laundry room.
house 2018
            The front of our house holds the living room, dining room and 2 offices on the first floor as well as 3 bedrooms (originally 4) and 2 baths upstairs. The rooms on the first floor are 11 feet tall but, thankfully, shorter on second floor. This part is held together with hand forged, cut nails.
            The back of our house holds the kitchen and laundry on the first floor and a large bedroom on the second floor. It is held together with machine made nails and the ceilings are only 8 feet from the floors.
            We reworked the upstairs floor plan to use the floor space of the small central bedroom. What was the bedroom door became a linen closet door and the rest of the room was divided to give the bedrooms on either side of it large closets and to make the master bedroom much larger.
            The closets hold some Wellsville history. When the Rockwell Department Store closed, they sold shelves and drawers. We bought several of them. Some are freestanding storage in the basement but some are built into the closets.
            We also reconstructed the front hall. The space under the stairs was wasted. It is now a front hall closet. The closet is wonderful but I reserve 3 cheers for the stair aprons. We admired some in a building in Christchurch New Zealand and when we returned home, Rick outfitted the front stairs.
             For most of the time that we lived here the front hall opened into the living room but after the children left that was just a drafty area so Rick built French doors between the hall and the living room.
            He made a leaded glass window to fill in the round arch above the doorway. This carries through the house. There is a rounded window over the front door, the one Rick made between the hall and living room, a stained glass window he made between the living and dining rooms and a fourth rounded window in the kitchen.
            The window in the kitchen is a half round window and we bought it from the Wellsville Central School System for $1.50. It allows an open passage of light through the kitchen.
            Schools change and toss out the old. Thankfully I was at hand to save this and that. There are two cupboards that were part of the Andover Central School. These are now our pantry. One side of each has a long door that had a coat rack and was used for the teacher’s coat and boots. There are holes drilled at the top and bottom so the coat could dry if it had rained.
            The other side as a medium and short door and was designed for book storage. The books cupboards already has shelves so that was great but the coat cupboard side needed shelves and that was where the Rockwell Department Store helped solve the need. We have 2 of these cupboards, back to back, as our pantry.
            There is one story that begs addition. When Emilie and Jay were in elementary school, I was a Girl Scout leader and Rick and I were both adult Boy Scouts. There were times when we would have the entire scout troops for an overnight at our house.
            On one such occasion, the kids were running and screaming in the back yard when a NY State Trooper rang the bell. Rather politely, he asked what was going on.
            “Going on how?” I asked.
            Someone in the neighborhood, we never knew who, had called to report that they heard someone screaming that they were being killed.
            We went out to the yard and called everyone together. They were playing a rousing game of He’s Going to Kill Me. There didn’t seem to be any agreement on the rules other than running and screaming about being killed.
            The trooper left. The game continued. Home sweet home.