When I bought my first house, I was beyond thrilled. It was an old two-story house with gingerbread trim on the outside. I could hear the large yard, overgrown with weeds, silently begging for flowers.
There were fireplaces in every room and a spiral staircase beckoned ascension from the entrance. To get it back to its original glory was going to be a labor of love, but it was one I was prepared to undertake.
“One room at a time,” I told myself. The old plaster walls were cracked and some of them were crumbling but I could see beyond the gaping wounds. I could see the beauty that was once there.
The previous owner was an older woman who was moving to an old folks home. Her husband had died twenty years earlier and the big house was just getting too much for her to handle.
Her husbands’ touch was everywhere. He had installed carpet but it wasn’t the normal plush carpet. It was indoor-outdoor carpet and he had adhered it with tar. The floors underneath were hardwood and restoring them was going to be a challenge to say the least, but removing the carpet was my first task.
He had dropped the ceilings, probably thinking it would make the rooms look more modern. He had effected all these “updates” at the time when those older, glorious homes were being deserted for newfangled ranch styles out in the suburbs.
My furniture came in and some of their abandoned furniture went out but any piece that was salvageable was put aside for later restoration. My plan was to work from sun-up to sun-down, repairing the walls with layers of plaster and then priming them for a fresh coat of paint.
I began with the living room. It was the only room that still had the original ceiling, probably due to a large bookcase with floor to ceiling glass doors. Standing opposite was an ornate mantelpiece, which had begun to escape the captivity of the wall. I was able to get it loose and give it a brief taste of freedom before once again becoming a prisoner. As I was cleaning the crumbling plaster bits that had fallen, I noticed a small folded piece of paper.
As I carefully opened it, I saw a picture of a horse. It was obviously drawn by a small child, although a gifted child, I thought. It resembled that dog named Spuds Mackenzie. It was a side view but it had a black circle around its eye and the circle had been filled in with pencil. There was no signature from the artist but there was a date. The year was 1956.
I put the note in a box for safe keeping and carefully began to pry open the doors of the bookcase. They creaked and moaned much like an old person trying to get up from a chair. The glass had to be original as it had all the hallmarks of having been hand-blown. The shelves were dusty and didn’t appear to have held any books in recent years. As I climbed the ladder to the top of the bookcase, I spotted another folded piece of paper, tucked away almost invisibly in the corner.
I took it down and carefully unfolded it. Like the drawing, the note seemed to have been written by a small child. It said “Dear God. Please make me a horse so I can run away.”
I smiled as I read it. It brought back memories of my own childhood. Didn’t we all want to run away from home at least once when we were young?
To be continued_____________________