My first encounter with Roger and his family, although brief, indicated much promise for a lasting relationship. Late spring, lush fresh-mown lawn and blooming shrubbery offered a backdrop of pleasant visuals and aromas, and I, too, had been nicely scented. Barb, Roger’s wife, lent a cautious eye to every nook and cranny, if I may use the expression to describe her scrutiny of a potential relationship.
Their two boys, Daniel and Darren, ages seven and three, added an element of excitement since children in my life had come and gone, the last as a young adult who wasn’t terribly young when we first met, with parents already beyond any adventurous forward-looking stage of their lives. Two of my neighbors had children Dan and Darren’s ages, myself not much older. A wonderful opportunity to host kids’ birthday parties—I doubt any bar miztvahs in this neighborhood, but who knows, it was 1974 in a progressive Minneapolis suburb.
Then no response. I still blame my matchmaker who introduced us, by no mean a spirited PR individual. Imagine my surprise when he returned with an appraiser and a purchase agreement signed on the dotted line. The only glitch, Roger, a wannabe realtor, decided to arrange their own financing, their nest-egg savings lacking of the required down payment. The dollar shortage probably due to the Storkamp family spending a summer touring Alaska, which also explains the break between their viewing the property and signing a purchase agreement.
My realtor, whom I disparaged a paragraph ago, proved to be the rule bender for which his profession is famous. In his case, a rule buster by presenting the bank a bogus sales agreement exaggerating the purchase price by three thousand dollars, from $33,000 to $36,000, thus qualifying for a larger loan. Through tears and embarrassment, Barb and Roger in that order, the deal solidified for the next twenty five years, Barb being the last of the family to say goodbye in 1999, my assessed value, $148,500. A recent sale at the time of this memoir, $286,400 with property taxes at $4972.
To my shame but not blame, the pleasant aromas that offered my appeal dissipated whenever fresh air was reduced as is the case with Minnesota winters. A foul and mysterious odor permeated from the laundry room. Frustrated, Roger took hammer and crowbar to the walls and exposed a recently self-evacuated resident family of mice, exiting so quickly the left steaming fresh poop atop the pile sectioned off for that purpose. A ladder zigzagged from poop station, to pantry of stored dog food, to a nest at the pinnacle. My previous owner had a dog but no mouse traps.
My garage saw an array of Automobiles from decade old Chevys and Fords to Late model police cars and auction block vehicles, most notably a 67’ Plymouth Wagon, Old Betsy the family’s battered but loved Alaska-or-Bust vehicle. (A special memoir segment in this blog dedicated to her) Gracing my exterior, half a dozen travel trailers parked alongside, on one occasion three of them back-to-back, excluding the 28 footer Ole Betsy pulled to Alaska and returned home empty handed.
The aforementioned shrubbery and lawn became accented with a utility shed and a forest of various species, maple, spruce, and popular. An issue I had to come to grips with concerns my exterior. As a man’s formal dinner suit requires a black tie, a house can be any color as long as it is white. Roger held out as long as possible until Barb and the neighbors convinced him I am not a rural Minnesota farm house. I took the insult to heart and agreed with their decision to paint me green to match the backyard forest, still in its infancy.
As a loyal protector from wind and rain, ice and snow, and burglars, I do not feel privy to expose the intimate nor the rambunctious activities within my walls, other than to say there were a great deal that filtered out into the yard and cul du sac. Vigorous interactions with neighbors are dealt with in other segments of this blog. Thank goodness, because they were enough to make any respectable house blush from green to red.