Sunday, November 21, 2010

On becoming Old Sneelock

August 1990

My wife has had a fascination with Victorian houses.

We were married in December of 1976 and lived in a 1950’s ranch house for the first 2 years and then moved to a brand new Tri level for the next 10 years. Aluminum siding, 2 car garage, no upkeep other than mowing the yard it was perfect.

My parents had bought an old house in town and spent 4 years bringing it up to livable. Having personally owned the 1950’s house for 5 years before we were married, I was tired of repairing and replacing damaged, missing, or bad sections of house.

Lydia worked for a real estate company as the business manager. The Agents were always having the staff and other Agents visit the houses they had listed. That way it looked like there was more traffic and kept the sellers happy. Every few months, usually right after I got home from work, she would say she had found the perfect house. We would get in the car and look at another old house.

The roof would be swaybacked, or the foundation was crumbling, or the floors were warped, or the neighborhood was bad, I would always find a reason to not move. I didn’t want to live in town and that’s where the most of the Victorian houses were.

In 1990 after 12 years of looking at dozens of houses I came home to the expectant smile and bright eyes that signaled another field trip to “the perfect house”.

We set out to Union City, MI. As we drove down Girard road, we passed several houses that we had looked at previously. Most were pretty badly run down or had been remodeled to the point where they were unliveable, i.e. the upstairs toilet was in the hallway?

We finally pulled into the driveway of a farm by Union Lake. The house was a white two story Victorian and sat back from the road in a stand of huge maple and ash trees. The house was surrounded by a thirty acre pasture on the west and a forty acre cornfield on the east. There were two barns. The largest was sixty feet square and the smaller one was forty feet by twenty.

In a few minutes John Dunks stopped in. He was selling the house and farmyard property after buying the whole farm from the family who lived there. He was very nice and showed us the house and buildings. We talked for about an hour altogether and during that time I couldn’t find a single thing wrong with the house. Oh there were issues, but this time I was saying to myself, that won’t take long to fix, and look at the size of that barn. I had visions of a workshop in the smaller of the two barns and room to store all my stuff where I could actually use it.

John and I shook hands and I owned two houses.

After settling on the sale of my former home in Quincy, Lydia and I moved into our new home. Between the handshake and moving in we had been cleaning and painting so the new place was all ready for us to just step in. Almost.

The house had never had an automatic washer and dryer. The laundry room came complete with a ringer washer but we used that one time and I installed the washer and dryer that moved in with us.

The service was sixty amps so my father and I installed a new two hundred amp service and over the next twenty years I installed a new well, an upstairs bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub, more outlets to every room in the house, and the list goes on.

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