Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Little red house

I first saw this house 26 years ago. Of course, it looked much better back then. Not so weary and time- and weather-bedraggled. It used to look as if someone had closed the door to go to the market, intending to return within the hour. Through the curtains I could see what appeared to be a console-type television and some furniture as I drove by. Or maybe it was just my imagination.

Within a short amount of time the grass took on a rough and wild appearance. What seemed to be large weeds turned into small trees. The glass windows became targets for rocks or other projectiles. It has seen the ravages of dark, rainy nights and unforgiving heat waves. And the paint quickly faded. For most of the year this decline happens behind the cover of overgrowth, but during the dormant months of winter the house is again revealed, tattered and alone.

Someday this house will be gone along with the memories that it was once lived in by people we never knew. There was, and still are the remains of, wallpaper in the front room. The curtains that were carefully hung have mostly turned to dust. Shutters still stand straight and tall, hanging on to the pride with which they were once painted.

This house is just a few miles from Rose’s house. I wonder if she knew the people who lived here, and what makes one house live on while another is forgotten.


Anonymous said...

When we first moved to this little mountain town, we tried to buy a house. It had an odd design...a tiny house that over the course of 100 years had been added on to many times. That house called to me. It had a barn in the back from the days when people got around by horse and buggy, and a garage just wide enough for a Model T. It was a house on a town block, but the backyard was a secret garden.

We didn't get it. And in retrospect I'm so grateful it makes me weak in the knees. But that poor house is still empty. It has been for years. And time and weather, and just being empty, are wearing it away.

Houses are meant to be lived in. I think they start to die if they aren't.

Scattering Lupines said...

Oh, it has such lovely character! That's so sad to see, with all the cookie-cutter developments going up all over tha place. I love the way you posted the pictures: up close and then driving away, leaving it.

How haunting. I wish someone would fix it up. OR even move it to a nice piece of land. It would make an ideal guest cottage, if not a main house for someone.

Maria said...

What a beautiful little old house and it looks like it is on a nice piece of property too.

It makes me really sad to think of it abondoned like that.

farmlady said...


by: Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)

Whenever I walk to Suffern along the Erie track
I go by a poor old farmhouse with its shingles broken and black.
I suppose I've passed it a hundred times, but I always stop for a minute
And look at the house, the tragic house, the house with nobody in it.

I never have seen a haunted house, but I hear there are such things;
That they hold the talk of spirits, their mirth and sorrowings.
I know this house isn't haunted, and I wish it were, I do;
For it wouldn't be so lonely if it had a ghost or two.

This house on the road to Suffern needs a dozen panes of glass,
And somebody ought to weed the walk and take a scythe to the grass.
It needs new paint and shingles, and the vines should be trimmed and tied;
But what it needs the most of all is some people living inside.

If I had a lot of money and all my debts were paid
I'd put a gang of men to work with brush and saw and spade.
I'd buy that place and fix it up the way it used to be
And I'd find some people who wanted a home and give it to them free.

Now, a new house standing empty, with staring window and door,
Looks idle, perhaps, and foolish, like a hat on its block in the store.
But there's nothing mournful about it; it cannot be sad and lone
For the lack of something within it that it has never known.

But a house that has done what a house should do, a house that has sheltered life,
That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his wife,
A house that has echoed a baby's laugh and held up his stumbling feet,
Is the saddest sight, when it's left alone, that ever your eyes could meet.

So whenever I go to Suffern along the Erie track
I never go by the empty house without stopping and looking back,
Yet it hurts me to look at the crumbling roof and the shutters fallen apart,
For I can't help thinking the poor old house is a house with a broken heart.

The 4 Bushel Farmgal said...

Hello folks,
I think you've all got the same feeling that I do about abandoned houses.

Hi farmlady,
That is an amazing poem. It fits this house (and many more) perfectly!

Thank you!

farmlady said...

I was 7 years old when I found this poem and memorized it. I can still say most of it for memory. I can't remember my phone number.., but I can recite this poem. That is what's really amazing.
I love this poem! Glad to share it with you.