Tuesday, May 03, 2011

First Thing on My Mind

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where we're slowing to a crawl after a very busy spring break! This week I'll be posting some pictures of the Fairie Festival as they become available, and I would ask anyone who has any to send me some. There's a few good ones on my Facebook profile, but I can't get them to download properly.

I wish I could revel in the festival, but earlier in the week I had an experience that shook me up and has stayed with me. I'll get that out of my system and then move on to cheerier topics!

Last Monday I drove out to Polish Mountain in southern Bedford County, PA. My family lived there for 14 generations, and I'm mostly related to everyone who was living in the area before 1970.

When I was growing up, I spent many a fine summer afternoon with my aunt Belle and my uncle Earl. Uncle Earl was my grandfather's oldest brother, and he doted on me fondly, as retired shop steward factory workers will do. He let me roam in his sturdy barn (but I was not allowed in the hayloft) and play in the spring near his house. Aunt Belle had a garden that was the talk of the township, and she, too, doted on me as only a gardening grandma can.

None of us noticed the view from Uncle Earl and Aunt Belle's house, really. It was just mountains. The only time it became important was when a storm was rolling in. At that time it was a splendid lookout for any kind of rough weather, since the kitchen window faced due west.

After Uncle Earl and Aunt Belle passed in the early 1980s, one of their sons insisted that the farm be sold. That's the way it works. If more than one person owns a property, it must be sold if any of the owners wants out.

None of Uncle Earl's family members wanted the place. The little house (a log cabin with an addition and tar paper siding) wasn't big by today's standards, and the well wasn't altogether reliable either. So, onto the market the property went.

One of Uncle Earl's sons called me and told me the asking price. It happened that Mr. J and I were just getting ready to move to Snobville, and we needed all of our money to buy a house there. We couldn't take on the responsibility or the expense of absentee landlording (even though one of my cousins -- reliable too -- was renting). We had to pass on Uncle Earl's property.

The property from which my great-grandfather's grandfather marched to the Civil War.

The place was bought by a single woman whose idea of upkeep was to bring in her mail. She did nothing. NOTHING, to keep up the house or the barn. Barn wood is greatly prized by artisans, especially the big beams that hold the structure together. She either didn't know this or didn't care.

Some years she didn't even mow the yard. But she was living there, mostly.

Last month she put the property on the market. Her asking price is $250,000.

It's a 70-acre plot with an absolutely breathtakingly beautiful view of three states. This lady knows that the view is the selling point.

Up pops a buyer, right off the bat. Local blood, distantly but directly related to Uncle Earl and Aunt Belle. The offer: $200,000.

The seller turned him down.

Last Monday while I was visiting my granddad's place (also now up for sale, but at least well maintained), I walked over to Uncle Earl's house. Oh, the shame! The weeping and wailing of my kin! I could hear it through the Veil, readers! Word!

The big, sturdy barn is ready to crumble. A good windstorm will finish the job. Carpenter bees have consumed even the milled beams. But worse than that is the house. A log house, no doubt a candidate for the Historical Register, left to rot and ruin, to carpenter bees and termites and mold. Windows broken. Roof useless. Knee-high grass right up to the door that won't shut. Collapsed outbuildings, trash strewn everywhere.

But oh boy, that view. What a view! A quarter million dollar view! Forget that local buyer, hold out for the lobbyist from DC who likes his hunting and wants his martinis on a redwood deck overlooking three states.

I know that one should never Work in heightened temper. But I did it anyway. What was I going to do, wait around until I could get over my ancestral home having gone to rack and ruin?

I wish no ill upon the owner/seller, but I did lob one heck of an Intention onto that property.

Well, we all know you can't turn back the clock, and I shouldn't expect a place to look the same as it did 45 years ago. But wait. Why not? When you buy a property, you should be prepared to undertake routine maintenance. Log homes are built to last, with a little appropriate care. And, as I said, the barn could have been dismantled and lovingly used for artistic purposes.

Does anyone want to purchase a beautiful view of three states? And a ... tear ... down?

Buyer, beware.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

I hope someone buys the property who will love and care for it properly.

-Pam said...

Thank royally sucks. I echo Debra She Who Seeks comment.


Intense Guy said...

I ditto the two before me...

...and add, you really can't go home again...