Treasure Hunting

| 10/7/2009 3:30:15 PM

Tags: old houses, treasures, real estate,

Circa 1900 photo of the house Rodeo lives in

A photo of Shirley Rodeo VanScoykWe live in a very old house. No one seems to know exactly how old, even the public records. I recently had a conversation with my insurance person regarding this. You see, my house is not what insurance companies feel comfortable with, but it is okay, if you pay them more, they get over it pretty quickly. Although we only put in one claim in thirty years, I can hear them shudder when I call because they are basically pessimistic when it comes to 200-plus-year-old barns with imperfect flooring, horses and goats that spend their lives figuring out how to escape onto the road, the absence of sidewalks and fire hydrants, old trees close to the house, and, of course, they have read the blog so they know I am accident prone. I called my insurance person because we have an addition going up, basically doubling the size of the house, and I wanted to be sure we were covered over what has turned out to be (no surprise) a very protracted construction period.

She says (after taking a swig of gin or whatever she keeps on hand for my phone calls), “What can I do for you, Rodeo?”

I say, “I need to make sure I have coverage for this addition – remember we talked about it?”

She says, “Let me pull up your account.” I know she’s got it in a bookmarked file on her computer, marked with a skull and cross bones, so it takes her no time at all.

“Now,” she says, after another swig, “Your original house is what? Sixty years old?”

12/9/2012 7:22:42 AM

I have recently taken up a little hobby called "reading".....okay, not recently, but you get the gist. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed your writing. Thanks very much for sharing such a gift.

nebraska dave
10/13/2009 11:06:12 AM

Rodeo, I love to hear a good story told well. You seem to have the knack for spinning a good yarn. It’s always a treasure just to hear you tell the story of ordinary life on the farm with flair. I can just see the agent talking to you on the phone and the grimacing face. My old house story happened to be my second house and after we bought the house we discovered that it had started its life as a remodeled chicken coop. Over the years many owners had improved the house and property which had made it quite a hodge podge of projects cobbled together. At the time we bought our house a title search was required and what was known as an abstract had to updated. Since then we only have to do title searches for leans on the properties. We received an old abstract with the house that dated back to the original owner that homesteaded the entire area around us. It was at least 100 pages thick with the history of the whole 640 acres given to the original owner. All the divisions of the property through inheritance, sale, law suits, and everything were all recorded in the document. I was real temped to take it with me when I sold the house, but I left it there as by then the requirements had changed to title search only and no abstract. It was real pain to update an abstract but in my humble opinion what a tremendous loss as to finding the history of properties.

rodeo princess
10/9/2009 7:35:19 PM

Vickie - I don't think we can help leaving some traces of ourselves - my daughter in law has dropped her phone inside one of the walls, twice! Cindy, I would have been beside myself if we found a hidden room. We do have a room in the attic which has an ancient clasp lock on the door - we used to tell the kids that is where the bad kids were sent. We keep the Christmas decorations in it. Dogcrate King, you are my biggest fan!

10/8/2009 8:49:09 PM

I love your story of treasures you have found in your old house- I was thinking maybe you should leave some treasure buried somewhere for the next person. Just imagine some else finding something from you. vickie

cindy murphy
10/8/2009 8:52:39 AM

Our house is similar to yours, Rodeo, in that no one knows exactly when it was built. When we bought it ten years ago, it was listed at being eighty years old - and nobody even knows why that number was choosen. It appears on a map of the town drawn in the 1870s, the only house on the street, and was surrounded by orchards. Newspapers used as insulation date to the late 1800's when the town dentist charged 5 cents for a gold filling. Finding out the house's age was always something I wanted to do, but never got around to checking into; there have to be records somewhere, right? Lots of stuff buried here in the house, and in the yard. Pieces of old pottery, and tools, (I can just imagine a husband asking his wife where his hammer went, and the wife sighing and asking where was the last place he used it). Installing some trees, my shovel kept hitting something hard, and I unearthed the rock foundation of some type of out-building. Perhaps the weirdest thing we found was a hidden room behind what is now my daughter's bedroom closet. Breaking through the plaster and lathe, my husband peered into the hole and discovered a small "sunken" room, complete with a boarded up window, long since covered by siding. Because the bedroom has its own staircase separate from the rest of the second story, I joked the newly found room was where they kept the insane mother-in-law. In Poe creepy story-style, eventually the room became her crypt. We decided to leave it alone.

dogcrate king
10/7/2009 4:52:37 PM

Another fine post! I enjoy your writing!

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