Friday, March 18, 2011

teenage eyes

I first found the yellow house because my mom moved into an old farmhouse further down the road on the same property. She was planning on housesitting there for the winter while taking some time to write, and when she drove me out to see it, I spotted the yellow house and was totally sold. Her plans to housesit quickly fell through; she spent one night in the farmhouse and pronounced it haunted. 

 The screened-in porch; accidentally very Anthropolgie.

 Do you see that object leaning up against the side of the house? It's really quite beautiful:

We asked Hedy, the current owner and daughter of the last family member to live in the farmhouse, what it was, and she said it's her father's memorial/headstone sort of thing. She had taken it out of the graveyard (yes, there's a family graveyard somewhere out in the woods on the property, which I have yet to find) to clean it up, and hadn't gotten around to it yet, which adds to the creepiness factor somewhat.

I can't really blame my mom for her wimpiness. The house has been in the family of the current owner since the 1800s, when they owned all the land on this side of town, and the objects inside the home reflect the fact that it has been continuously owned by the same folks since the beginning of time. Furniture and belongings have been added by each generation, but not much seems to have been removed. Framed Daguerreotypes  of Civil War soldier relatives hang on the walls alongside tacky caricatures of more recent progeny from the 1980s, and beautiful old South American textiles, brought back by some enterprising family member around the turn of the century, share space with horrendous blankets with images of cats knit into them. When you're in the farmhouse, you feel a definite sense that you are in someone else's very, very old home, and that it is very much theirs.

Fantastic table alongside total junk.

I want this.

I found this oil pastel in the attic of the yellow house, which was built and owned by Hedy's grandparents. It's undoubtedly some creepy family member who was in some freaky Order:

I also found an obit-type article from a segment in the local paper about Dorothy Ann, Hedy's mother, the last resident of the farmhouse. She died in her bed there just a couple years ago, when in her 90s. Apparently she was a real character. Although her family was about as small-town Old South as you can get (I mean, there are slave cabins on the property to this day), she traveled extensively, was a complete Francophile, a lover of gourmet food and foreign films (in the 1940s in Tennessee, no less), and rejected religion. She married an artist she met while traveling in Italy and brought him back to the farmhouse with her after they married, which must have been absolutely bizarre for him. Along with her daughter, Hedy, she had a son named Galen, who died in some tragic and horrible way as a teenager. (I have heard Galen alluded to many times by various people, but it still seems very hush-hush so I don't know exactly what happened. Apparently the family never really recovered from whatever it was that happened to him, which, interestingly, is mentioned in the article. There are lots of photographs of him in the farmhouse, and I do know that he was super hunky.) Dorothy Ann taught French at the local high school, Rossview, named in honor of her family.

"What a glory she was! Elegantly curved and casually dressed, she appeared with ease and confidence before our teenage eyes, and I marveled from my back row desk at this apparition of sophistication."

 "Dorothy Ann and I smoked cigarettes and drank red wine during many an hour of forgiving the past, forgetting old dependences, and searching for the fountains that only know their source in a love beyond all knowing." Cryptic.

An incredible photograph of Hedy with, it seems, some really cool extra from The Wild One. I want that bike and her outfit so much it hurts.

Since Galen died young and Hedy had no children, there are no direct descendants to take over the property and the homes once this generation disappears. I would like to volunteer for that position now. It must be nice to have a home to which you can return now and again which is really and truly yours, which is so saturated in your family's past. 


I am leaving for Kansas City today to see old friends, and I am totally thrilled. I'm taking a Greyhound to St. Louis to catch the train, and I know I am going to have some insane adventures. Public transportation that lasts for hours usually provides some weird and memorable encounters.

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