From the cottage of Maud and Claude

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Bonnie and Gene

Fashion over function.  Sometimes the city girl forgets country reality.  As I looked over my footwear situation yesterday morning around 5:25 a.m., I pulled out a pair of grey and green tennis shoes.  St. Patrick's Day determined the need to wear green.  I slipped into my knit black crop pants, a grey t-shirt and an aqua sweatshirt and pulled out of the driveway by 6 a.m. to attend a southern Missouri farm auction.

Here in the Kansas City area, it has been dry and warm.  I just assumed the entire state of Missouri was the same way.  So when I arrived at the farm auction and looked at the thermometer that read 51 degrees, I knew I was in trouble.  The cloud base was thick and the fields were a mix of newly-turned mud.  Many fellow auction customers were parking on the gravel road, but I decided to follow the red and white auction parking sign that indicated we could pull onto the property.  I parked right inside the gate and immediately was told by someone with the auction company to pull back behind the barn.  As I started to pull forward, I noticed a huge mud pit that I'd have to drive over and decided then and there, this was a bad idea.  So I pulled past some orange cones to turn around and one of the auctioneers came up to me and said I could certainly go back to where I started, that he was so happy to see that I drove that far and said it wouldn't be a problem to park out front.  Good business.  I like this auction company for a reason.

As I got out of the van and started walking, my feet sunk in the wet, cold ground and it wasn't long before my tennis shoes were water-logged and muddy.  I was kicking myself then and there for not grabbing my boots in the morning, but decided to just grin and bear it.  Next time I would wear my boots.

The auction was to settle the estate of the couple who lived there and had passed away.  All of their personal belongings as well as the items they used out on the farm were up for sale as was the house.  The home was quite old.  These pictures were taken by the auction company:




There were some oldies out in the field ready to be passed on to new owners like this McCormick-Deering tractor:



The picture that caught my eye, though, was this one showing these delightful blue outdoor chairs:


I started browsing in the pole barn where the furniture was located.  Passing by a large oak dining room table, an elderly woman pursed her lips and said to no one in particular, "Hmm.  I served up many a meal around this dining room table."  She placed her right hand over the top and rubbed along the edges as if touching the table would somehow bring the past to the present. "Was this your family?" I asked.  "Oh yes," she answered, "Gene and Bonnie were my aunt and uncle."

She continued her inner reminiscing while going from piece to piece.  You could tell each piece unlocked a memory within.  I stood quietly and watched her as she ran her fingers over the furniture like one does the spine of a book after they've read the final chapter.  Estate auctions are like that.  There are always so many memories and so many final chapters.

Later, as I was looking through the household items, she found me and started talking as she picked up a drinking glass with orange and black butterflies decorating every square inch.  "Oh my, Bonnie loved butterflies."  She chuckled.  "She sure did love her butterflies.  Maybe I'll buy a glass as a memorial to Bonnie."

About 2 feet behind where we stood was a small grouping of daffodils rising out of the ground.  "Did Bonnie love to garden to attract the butterflies?" I wondered. She smiled at the visions crossing her mind's eye and turned around to face me.  "See this front yard?  It was full of flowers.  So many flowers.  She had the largest garden I had ever seen and everything was so beautiful and oh, the butterflies were everywhere." Suddenly her smile was gone.  "But then, Bonnie died and Gene, he was too busy to water the gardens and everything died and was gone."  As abruptly as the conversation started, it ended and she walked off.

The auction began and I purchased a delightful yellow enamelware pan, a chippy paint red-handled strainer and primitive pot lid metal wall hangers.


The wind continued to whip, the sun never came out and my teeth started chattering, so I left early without the blue chairs or many of the great primitives that were going to be auctioned off later in the day.  What I left with, though, was a priceless peek into the lives of Bonnie and Gene. And to me,  that was yesterday's greatest treasure.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Maud's Cabinet

Meant-to-be - - -those 3 words sing to me from time to time.  It's like the goosebumps you get when you know something is just right.  And so it was a couple of weeks ago I was perusing a semi-local auction site and noticed a few online as well as in-house auction listings.  Honestly, though, I travel to farm auctions for a reason.  I love the outdoors.  Barns and old farmhouses- - - yes, please!  To be amongst those of all different walks of life:  antique dealers, farmers, Mennonites and the Amish are the most frequent people I meet up with at auctions. Conversations are rich.  Usually there is a good deal of history at farm auctions.  On lucky days, the actual farmhouse is up for auction, so the doors are flung open and all are invited inside to browse.  I have to admit, those are my favorite.  How many wavy-glass-paned kitchen windows have I stared through over the years that face either rolling fields of cattle, or flat fields of corn or wheat; all very picturesque!

So to buy items online that are from the farm, well, that seems almost sacrilegious.  I can't touch, feel or absorb the item other than through a picture.  Sure, I can get an idea of a piece, but not ever the full scope.

However, after pondering a few items over a week ago, I bid and purchased some great farm primitives.  I picked them up at the auction company nearly an hour's drive from my house.  Though the drive was on 3 different major highways, there was some country to admire, so it sort of evened out in the end.

And I found this most delightful Mishawaka advertising box.  I applied oil to the box and the original wood tone came to life:




And here it is at Big Creek Antique Mall when it was finished:


It's not a bad gig, really.  Bid from the comfort of home. I could almost get used to this in between my auction travels.

When I perused the site the first time, I skipped ahead to auctions ending in the future and fell in love, and I mean LOVE, with a piece best described as a make-do.  These are the auction company's pictures:







The description said that the cabinet was 6' tall and approximately 4'4" wide.  I have no concept of numeral measurements.  I just don't.  Yea, I know a few 6' tall people.  And 4'4" wide should fit in the back of my hubby's Dodge Ram.  I showed the pictures to my other half and he said it looked great and it would fit fine in the Ram.  I asked him again a few days later and he responded the same.  Wednesday night was the auction finale and I asked him one more time before I bid.  All was well on his end so I bid and won the purchase price.  To say I was ecstatic is an understatement.  I live for this stuff.  I love hunting for the unusual and this fit the bill.  Pick-up was yesterday out on a farm outside Odessa, Missouri.

Cool.  Another drive to the country:



Hubby had the day off and we planned on driving out in both vehicles since the drawers were full of contents that had to be transported in my van.  We arrived to a gorgeous plot of land with a farm pond and barn right next to the parking area.  I paid my invoice and headed to the basement where this glorious piece of furniture was located.  After laying eyes on it, we were both overcome.  It's massive.  And heavier than we ever imagined.

Thankfully, the basement was a walk-out and had a garage door, so we could pull back in and load.  It took us at least an hour or so to get the drawers pulled out.  They were so heavy with tools, screws and everything under the sun.  We finally got those loaded in the van.  These pictures really don't show the magnitude of the drawers, but it gives you an idea.  I also purchased the 3 wood sawhorses for $4.  :)  Deal, right?  My poor van was weighted down low.


We put all the seats down in the back to accommodate everything.





Then it came time to load the biggest thing my husband and I have ever purchased and moved ourselves.  I think it may be heavier than the large stainless steel drum front load dryer that I insisted we save money from having it delivered so we bought it and moved it to the second level ourselves.  Yes, I think it was heavier than that!

It took 3 manly-men to get the cabinet in the bed of the Ram.  We decided since this was so massive, it'd be better to drop it off at the storage unit at the lake so it wouldn't take up garage room here at home, so we drove down to the cottage and grabbed the keys and headed to the storage unit.  Except when we got there, the cabinet had wedged itself between the two wheel wells and wouldn't budge.  The Eagles Club is across the street and I nearly ran over and played a damsel in distress hoping some good old southern gentlemen could help us.  But my strong hubby jumped up in the bed and we did a push-pull maneuver and after awhile it started moving.  I may or may not have whooped out loud and said, "Praise Jesus!" and had a little church moment in the parking lot of the storage units.

Once we got the cabinet on the ground, I really could look at it and admire everything.  It's the most beautiful piece we have ever purchased for the business.  The drawers all need some level of work.  Each is filled to the brim with thingamajigs and thingamabobs.  I have to start there and get everything separated into piles before moving on to the cabinet, itself, which will require the white paint being stripped and some wood repair.  We did find some great items, though.  I have a handful of glass door knobs and cabinet knobs that are headed to the dishwasher and some great 1800's door hardware.  We also found this great handle:


And these items:




Oh, and if you think being an antique dealer is glamorous, it's not.  Richard found a bird skeleton in one of the drawers that I had in the van.  Ew.



This is just the tip of the iceberg.

The cabinet, though, is the real story:








That's my superman husband after getting the cabinet off the truck.  :)

Everything needs some work before making it store-worthy.

The story about the cabinet itself is the meant-to-be moment.

One of the daughters at the house walked up to me and asked if I was going to refinish the piece and we started talking.  Turns out, her father died 23 years ago.  He never threw anything away.  Ever.  She looked over at her sister and said, "Wasn't that piece from Maud's house in Independence?"  I about fell over.  Maud.  (Dancing Bumblebee Cottage is the cottage of Maud and Claude, perfect, right?)  Her sister said yes.  Apparently their father had 3 aunts who never married and had a family.  When each passed away, their father inherited everything from their homes.  And, after moving to the country in the house we were standing in, he befriended a lady down the road who also had no family so when she died, he was willed the contents of her home, too.  She said her mother stayed on at the home after their father died until she was 95 years old.  She passed away last August.  She said they had been busy getting the house ready for sale and it's taken quite a while to get to this point.

I asked, "So when Maud passed away, he moved this cabinet from Independence, Missouri to this place?"  And they said yes.  Well, if someone moved this cabinet once, we could do it now and we did.  It's a lovely piece and one I can't wait to get in the shop!

At the end of the day as we walked out of the cottage to head back to the city, we were treated to a lovely Ozarks sunset underneath our arbor:


Yesterday was a good day.