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.



STORY JAR 
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.



Monday, August 27, 2018

Dear Sister Mary Something

From a class with Carol Burdick, the Art of the Personal Essay
November 9, 2002

Dear Sister Mary Something,

Elaine
I suspect that you are "gone" now because years have brought my once brown hair to the peppered in gray that yours was when you slapped my  hand with the wooden ruler, your constant companion.

I learned not to talk in your class, not to question and thereby imply that you had not taught your lessons clearly.

I learned to name red, the color of my welt and to fear rectangles, the shape of that response on the back of my hand. Most of all, I learned to hate because when you finished with me you took your ruler to my little brother whose enormous sin was to write with his left hand, Satan's hand, the hand of evil.
David

David was quiet and frightened and less associated with Lucifer than you were with God. I remember your ruler, Sister Mary Something, and hope that you have found better ways to measure people,

Still Angry,
Elaine Hardman

A Draba or a Silphium?

Essays from class with Carol Burdick, A Place in the Universe, 2001
Would you rather be a Draba or a Silphium?

Being a Draba is tempting but I wish to be a Silphium. I couldn't think of anything more wonderful than growing for years and years to put my tap root into the earth so far that hours of sweating with an ax and shovel, a mattock and pry-bar, a pick and garden knife would fail to dislodge me.

I'd stand so confident, so solid, so certain in my being that a back hoe couldn't keep me from flowering in triumph, though asphalt if I chose. Yes, please, make me a Silhium and let the bison, brown and shaggy or black and white, nibble on my unbeaten stem and send Aldo to collect my seeds, future children of a simple soil world.


(Are dandelions related to Silpium? When we paved our driveway, the previous owners, dandelions, pushed through six inches of blacktop to blossom as they always had. I was cruel, dowsing them with vinegar and whomping the bumps in the paving with a sledge defeating them but recognizing that their growth was impressive.

silphium sunflower tribe within the daisy family

draba reptans, Carolina whitlow grass

Thursday, August 23, 2018

KaBOOM! It's music time.





WELLSVILLE: The Fassett Greenspace Project has grown from phase one, the garden, toward phase 2, the teaching/play area with a generous grant from KaBOOM!.
            KaBoom isn’t a noise or a shout, it’s an idea that promotes play and for Wellsville it’s a set of 6 sculptural musical instruments to be permanently installed at the Fassett Greenspace Project. KaBOOM! and the Ralph C Wilson, Jr. Foundation awarded Built To Play funds to Wellsville’s amazing new community space for the purchase of the instruments.
Phase 1, the garden,
Photo by Elaine Hardman
            Built to Play is funding several discovery areas throughout Southeast Michigan and Western New York with the hope of inspiring active, creative, outdoor free play for children. Built to Play called for grant proposals for projects that would integrate play into everyday life in unexpected places and found the formerly empty lot at Fassett and Main Street with its life-sustaining garden and planed performance space a perfect fit. The grant proposal, written by Art for Rural America president, Cassandra Bull with an assist from Andrew Harris, brings $20,000, the cost of the instruments.
Aria, one of the six sculptural instrument
 to be installed at Fassett Greenspace Project.
Photo courtesy of Freenote Harmony Park.
            Why get instruments? Art for Rural America, the umbrella organization that is transforming the Fassett lot into a place for healthy living, hopes to have a positive impact on the social sustainability of the Wellsville community. AFRA sees music as a cultural phenomenon that builds community by strengthening relationships between people of diverse backgrounds. These outdoor instruments will invite a wide audience, encourage group play, stimulate improvisation, and allow for physical activity for families.
Contrabas Chimes, one of the six sculptural instrument
 to be installed at Fassett Greenspace Project. Photo courtesy of Freenote Harmony Park.
            AFRA’s President, Cassandra Bull, said, “Music is a universal language that brings benefits to listeners and creators. These sculptural instruments offer an environment for physical and cooperative play, creative expression, and emotional regeneration.”
            To learn more about the Fassett Greenspace Project go to ArtForRuralAmerica.org and choose Fassett Greenspace or find us on Facebook. To donate toward the installation of the instruments, send checks made out to Fassett Greenspace Project to AFRA, 130 North Main Street, Wellsville, NY 14895.
The Manta Ray, one of the six sculptural instrument
 to be installed at Fassett Greenspace Project.
Photo courtesy of Freenote Harmony Park.
            AFRA board members, including Bull, Harris, Andy Glanzman and Elaine Hardman are available to speak to your community organization. Contact us at ArtForRuralAmerica@Gmail.com or 585-808-0385. Volunteers with gardening knowledge willing to weed or water are always appreciated.   

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Alfred Village Band Remembered






AVB, conducted by Mike Shoales
The beloved Barrett Potter, 2008

An essay written in 2011: I played in the Alfred Village Band last night and again drove home feeling that I was part of a Norman Rockwell painting. At rehearsal the previous night Nancy Lugar lugged in a sack of zucchini and cucumbers ready to stuff them in open hands, open cases, unlocked cars. Linda Staiger and Mike Shoales bantered back and forth while Jane Rainsford sidled around the band taking videos for Facebook.

At the concert we played an all time favorite, St. Louis Blues because Mary Ann VanScoter loves that piece and then we played Amparito Roca because Susan Olix Anderson loves it but our tempo was caffeine meets tornado or something. Those notes went flying.

The Mickey Mouse ears came out for the traditional march around the quad with old and young led by Adam with the cymbals and Valerie with a fife sometimes followed up by a dog. For the conclusion on this night, Earl Packard played the piccolo part for Stars and Stripes on the tuba giving piccolo the night off.
In years past, I would buy a tarp, paint on it and drag the ladder
to Alfred to put it up catching some passer-by to
climb the ladder or hold it for me.

The Alfred Village Band was begun in the 50s. It performs on Wednesday nights in July on the bandstand.  Mr. Cappidonia was a long time conductor and then Mr. Lester and Maestro Canale. Currently it is conducted by Mike Shoales.

Long, long time and dear members were Dick Stillman who wrote several big band arrangements and Barrett Potter and his velvet trumpet. Betty Harder pushed us to have uniform maroon shirts. Adam Jefferds played as a high school kid and then came back for several of his adult years.
Dottie Oakley, trombone

AVB, the younger crew wearing
the shirts that Betty Pushed us to buy.
Update 2018: There is no longer an Alfred Village Band. The village gave financial support for a long while but that went away.  Hopefully, some future Alfred resident will get it all going again.