Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Tale of Two Piccies

I have two photos of my house as it looked many years ago, long before I was born and long before bad things happened to the house in the name of convenience and maintenance.  I've shared both these photos here before, but while I was sidelined from my injury I ran them through a photo editing program, which improved them both quite a bit so I thought I'd share them again.

Please click photo to bigify.
This is the first photo that was given to me.  It was taken in 1947.  The people in the photo are Clarence and Theresa Kinney, and they lived in my house less than a year when they were first married.  Theresa is a friend of my mother's and when she found out I'd bought the house, she gave this photo to my momma to give to me.  This photo inspired me to tear off the cedar shingles which had been covering the original clapboards.  Theresa told me that when she and Clarence lived here the house was divided smack down the middle into two apartments.  I can see evidence of this in the marks from locks on interior doors.  The front entryway was shared and one apartment was what's now the front parlor, the dining room, and the kitchen; the other was the second parlor and what's now two bedrooms.  There was only one bathroom, shared, at the back of the house.  The Kinneys' landlord, Aubrey Kelly, (called Aub by the family and A.O. by everyone else) was one of the sons of James Kelly, who built this house.  A.O. kicked Clarence and Theresa out of the house when he learned Theresa was pregnant, saying "I don't want any crying baby in here!"  They moved next door, to the house that's visible in the background of this photo, and rented a room.  A.O. continued to live in the house his father built until his death in 1951.  

But if you look past the dapper Mr. and Mrs. Kinney at the house itself, you notice right away a big difference between the house's appearance in 1947 and its appearance now:  that front porch.  Sigh.  It's beautiful, isn't it?  Hipped roof, spandrel, three porch posts at the corner, and that gorgeous iron roof cresting along the edge of the flat roof.  I'd been told by several locals that the iron cresting was removed in a scrap metal drive during World War II, which certainly seems plausible, but the cresting on the porch at least was still present post-war.  The front steps went all the way across the front porch and there was a railing and spindles only down the side of the porch.  This confirms the recollection of a little old man who told me he played on those steps as a child.  I notice several other things too:  all of the stained glass panes are intact (one was replaced with clear glass prior to my ownership of the house), the small vent at the front of the house for the cellar (to the left of Clarence, almost at ground level) hadn't yet been stuccoed over, and by this time the whole house including the trim had been painted white or some other light color.  

Please click on photo to embiggen.
The quality of this next photo is still pretty poor, but it's a photo of a photocopy of a newspaper photo, so I suppose considering all that it's not so bad.  A neighbor of mine, Roger Slusher, who was a local historian, teacher, and author, found a newspaper article from 1981 (which, if memory serves, he had written) in the archives of the Lexington Museum and photocopied the article for me.  The newspaper caption says the photo was taken in 1906.  I contacted a Kelly family member a few years ago, hoping she would make a copy of the original photo, but she said she didn't have the photo and had no idea who did.  I still hold out hope I'll find it someday.  That's Mr. Kelly in front of the house with one of his horses, a horse who probably resided in the small stable which used to be located in my back yard and was torn down sometime in the 1920s.  From the Sanborn Maps of my neighborhood, I know the approximate dimensions of the stable and that it was a two-story brick and frame structure.  That's Mrs. Kelly on the front porch, seated on the left.  (This same photo appears in the Kelly family history, with the people in the photo and even the horse identified by name.)  

This is the photo that, honestly, makes me a bit queasy to look at.  So many of the beautiful details of the house and property are gone now.  The porch, of course.  All that gorgeous iron cresting and the lightning rods.  Two of the three chimneys have been demolished down to the roof and covered over and the third, the one on the far left, is just a stub.  The brick walkway that branched off from the main walkway and went around the east (right) side of the house is gone.  If you look closely at the edges of the photo, you can see a wooden fence on the west (left) side that looks similar to what we'd now call a privacy fence.  It's gone.  On the east side of the yard was a wood and iron fence, and nothing remains of it but the base of one iron post that sticks about an inch out of the ground and is only visible during the worst of summer when the grass is dry.  All the trees are gone too, although my neighbor Floyd and I planted a small dogwood in the front yard near where the horse is standing in the photo, and pretty close to where the tree on the left in the photo must have been planted, although we didn't have this photo to go by when we planted the dogwood.  

Some of this could be replaced:  the brick walkway, the low fence on the east side, the porch, the evergreen tree by the house.  The chimneys are less likely to be rebuilt, because of cost, but not ruled out completely.  Two things are all but impossible:  the privacy fence on the west side, because my neighbor's side porch is built almost on the property line and putting a fence along there would not only look odd but probably not be allowed by the Historic Preservation Commission; and the iron roof cresting, which is considerably outside my present budget.   

At least one of the things that used to be here but now isn't will be rebuilt this coming spring.  Can y'all guess which one?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ten Weeks and Four Days

This past Monday I went to the ortho clinic.  I had xrays and then I waited nervously as the FNP looked them over.  "It looks good," he said.  "Actually, really good.  I'm going to go ahead and release you.  Merry Christmas."

Ten weeks and four days.  From the date of my fall to the date of my release from treatment, ten weeks and four days.  The doctor originally predicted it would take me twelve weeks to heal.  This might be the first time I've ever gotten anything done ahead of time.

I wished him a merry Christmas too and turned to go.  He paused in the doorway, grinning.  "Now this doesn't mean you can go straight to the lumberyard, pick up fifty pounds of materials, and start working on your house."  My reputation precedes me.  I laughed.  "What can I do?" I asked.  "Anything you want," he said, "as long as it doesn't hurt or put too much pressure on that collarbone."

Anything I want...anything...

First things first:  get rid of that damn figure-of-eight splint.   As soon as I got home I threw it on the floor and stomped on it.   Then I grabbed a lighter with the intention of destroying the splint by fire, but since my entire yard is covered with about six inches of leaves and it was really windy that day, I decided not to risk burning down the whole neighborhood.  

Then I called my friend Tom, who's been a coach and a trainer for years, and asked him how best to rehab my shoulder and right arm.  He advised me to use my arm as much as possible without pain and to work on flexibility.  I've been working diligently, and every day I make a teeny-tiny bit of progress.  (Kinda like when I was scraping paint off the house--work hard, barely visible results.)  

And last, I called Mare to tell him the good news.  Y'all know I can't stay mad at him for long, and especially not when he blames himself for my injury.  He says if he hadn't come along and pissed me off, I wouldn't have passed out and gotten hurt.  I counter that I could've passed out at home all by myself without him there to put half a roll of paper towels on my dented-in head and then drive me to the hospital, and that might've been worse.  

So what's next?  This winter I'd planned to pull up the subfloor in the back bedroom to investigate why the floor slopes sharply down towards the back of the house (I suspect decades-old termite damage to the floor joists, which was noted in my house inspection) and repair that, and then, if I hadn't run out of winter yet, I planned to put a new ceiling in that room.  There's no chance of any of that happening now.  So, I'm taking the rest of the winter off from any serious work on the house.

And I'm making plans for spring.  Big plans.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

To Arms!

Of all my friends, neighbors, family members and assorted townspeople who make appearances in this blog, I'd venture to guess that none is more beloved among my readers than White Trash Bob.  Heck, he has his own fan club and he's been nominated for sainthood, and for good reason.  In the seven years I've lived across the street from him, he's never failed to provide advice, tools, muscle, and encouragement every time I've needed it.  Sometimes even when I didn't know I needed it.  He built my picket fence without once pointing out that I didn't know what the heck I was doing, talked me down off the roof when I was too afraid to climb back down, let me help him tinker around with motorcycles, and made me chicken noodle soup when I was brokenhearted.  In short, he's helped me out of many a jam.

And now White Trash Bob needs some help out of a jam of his own.

Without going into detail and invading the man's privacy, I'll just let you know that WTB has contracted a particularly evil cancer, with a long treatment and an uncertain prognosis.  I'm sure, although I haven't talked to him about it, that he's royally pissed off about the whole situation.  

So rally round, WTB Fan Club members!  To arms!  If y'all are the praying type, could you send a few up for Bob?  If you're otherwise inclined, please send WTB love and light and positive energy or whatever you believe might help the man.  I'm sure he'd appreciate it, and the elegant and erstwhile Mrs. WTB would appreciate it even more. 

Thanks, y'all.