Saturday, January 16, 2010

Time Changes . . .

. . . Everything

The BEST memories arise from something simple.

It was mid-1962 when I spotted a sign with the simple words "For Sale"
with the added words "See Sawyer Boisvert, Realtor"

I had a few months earlier moved to Adams, Massachusetts, from Pennsylvania, undertaking a news job back in my home state I'd left ten years before.

The sign was in front of a large house which looked as if it would fill the needs of my family. I decided on the spot to talk with the realtor, seeing a chance to move my family into larger quarters quickly since the owner of a houe at 45 South Willow Street which I had rented prior to moving from Pennsylvania had put that smalller house up for sale.

Realtor Boisvert provided a key and invited us to look the place over in and out and make an offer. The house with 15 rooms was vacant. The owners had retird to Vero Beach in Florida, most likely to find a warmer climate the same as I have done years later in moving to New Mexico.

If I were offering to buy that house today, considering price differences between 1962 and 2010, I would have probably been laughed out of Adams had I murmured "$125,000?"

But that was 1962 and Mr. Boisvert merely answered when I asked what the owners might accept "tell me what you want to pay and I'll call and ask Elmer if it's OK. So I said, ready for a laugh, "how about $9,000?"

No laugh. The realtor got up from his seat on the piazza, walked down the 26 steps to a dead end street, calling back over his shoulder, "I'll call you." I took that as a goodbye.

That night, however, Mr. Sawyer did call 743-0020 and said "come see me in the office tomorrow and we'll work up the papers, Mr. Dunn says OK."

Fast forward to 1978 when after a four-foot snowfall and a doctor's verdict to the children's mother that, because of severe spinal arthritis, she'd be in a wheelchair in six months if she wasn't in a much warmer climate, our 15 room house was advertised for sale one day in the newspaper, and sold the next for $25,000.

Fast forward again, this time to 2009. Curiousity prompted me to seek out the current valuation of the place, which had changed a lot over the years, financially, structurally and landscapewise.

A friendly assessor I'd known all the time I worked in the area, told me "if you're planning to come back, Charlie, bring about $200,000 or so."

The headline up above says "Time Changes Everything. " It sure does, financially, but this blog is about changes that have taken place since I bought it, and since I sold the place to new owners still living there.

Go back to 1962. The house sits on a hill about 35 feet above what once was called A Street. On just a quarter acre, the house was built by Elmer Dunn in 1901 on half the land he owned and without a driveway, since only horses and buggies were the mode at the time.

The front area of the house was terraced lawn with a very thick concrete wall holding back the hill at A Street. There were 26 massive concrete steps leading up to the top terrace, then a flat area leading to five steps to the piazza or porch, which ran about half way around the house to the east.

Without going into a lot of detail because there's too much, we during our occupancy, cut down a huge apple tree, destroyed an eight foot section of concrete wall at the street level to dig a long uphill driveway to the yard above, painted the house and did various interior renovations.

Credit goes to sons Terry and Denis and their friends, Bruce, Paul , Art and a batch of others for cutting down the apple tree, for excavating the driveway, to the same crew for the paint job and me for the inside renovations - maybe the girls too.

An unmet Internet friend, Carol Crossed, of Rochester, New York, new owner of the historic birthplace of Susan B.Anthony, researched my former address while visiting in Adams and took a few pictures of the ex-Hoye home, now located on Senecal Place, named for the new owner of the house on the hill.

She graciously sent along those photos so I might note the differences the years have made.

That long driveway has received a new paving job and berms, the terraces now bear floral growth and bushes, the second huge apple tree is gone, the house has been re-sided in white vinyl, and a second floor doorway leading to an outside patio above the piazza has been removed. The patio is gone too.

A one (short) car garage built into the terraced hill at street level, possibly the home of Mr. Dunn's buggy in 1901, is gone.

In our years there, our long and wide cars did not fit well into the garage and alighting after backing in meant climbing out the driver's window.and over the hood to get out of the place.

At one time that garage was the location of son Denis's "Midnight Auto REpair" where his friends Bruce, Paul and others , maintained their sports bugs.

About that uphill driveway. Mr. Dunn sometime later sold the other quarter of his land to a man who operated a variety store down the hill
and who had a house constructed, with a driveway.

When we moved in, his widow allowed us to use her driveway and go around the back of her house to get into our yard. In exchange, in wintertime, my trusty Ariens snowblower kept her driveway clear of snow.
For some forgotten reason, the widow lady later denied further access to her driveway, even though until we moved away, we blew away the snow. This denial is what caused the digging project to create our own driveway.

Yes, Time Changes Everything.

And now for another change- I am going to turn over to Yarntangler (SURPRISE!) the sequel or sequels to this blog - a few of her BEST memories of this grand house. I will in the future have a few more memories as well. There were 17 yearsof them created there so . . .

- 30 -

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