Friday, August 15, 2014

Another House Story

On my way home from seeing Kathleen today, I took a left on the road I used to live off of in the mid-seventies to 1981 or so. My first husband and I had bought a piece of property and we intended to build our own house there but we soon discovered that we were not fit for such fanciness and we moved a ten-by-fifty foot trailer onto the property and that's where we lived when Hank was a little guy and where May was actually born in the "big" bedroom which was about big enough for a bed and a small dresser. There was an Indian print bedspread on the wall with a tree of life on it. I remember that.
And after May was born, it was just a ridiculously small space to live in although it did have indoor plumbing and electricity and I had a washing machine of my own that lived in a little wooden shed off the trailer.
It did us while we lived there.
And one day, I was reading the classifieds in the paper and under "antiques" I found an ad that said, "Antique house to be moved." And it gave a Monticello address.
I called the number, just out of sheer curiosity. The woman who answered told me that she and her husband were building a new house and were living in the original house on the property, an "old cracker house" as she said, and the new house was about finished and they wanted to get the old one off the property.
To make a long story short, we bought that house and moved it. It needed rebuilding from the foundation sills up and my then-husband and our good friend Jeff did it.
It was my dream house.
And we lived there when Hank and May were little and then I reached a point where I couldn't live with my husband any more and we divorced and I moved to town to go to nursing school. It was the hardest move of my life.
I loved that house and every board and the front porch that Jerry and Jeff built on to it and the laundry room behind it and my garden and my apple trees and my clothes line and all of it.
It was a dream and I had to give it up.
The last night I spent there, I laid on the bare wood pine floors and I cried my eyes out.

And I still owned it when Glen and I met. His parents wanted to move to Florida and Glen wanted them here, near to him, where his daddy could fish with him and his mama could be relax and be happy and while they were building their own house here, they lived in that house and Paw-Paw brought it back to life and it was beautiful.

And when it came time to sell it, a woman named Phyllis Straus bought it. And she lived there until the day she died. She loved it and she filled the yard and the woods around it with her art, which was sculpture, and I have written about her more than once.
And now it is for sale and so I stopped by this afternoon to walk around it.
The gate was locked but I just drove on down a little ways and walked through the woods and spider webs to see it.
And this, jesus god, was what I saw.

And then this.


And then this. 

All life-sized. And more. 

I passed all of them and then there was this. 

My house. My first true house. Every board beloved by me. Every sheet of tin on the roof appreciated by me. 

I walked up to the porch and noticed that where my garden had been was now a place where cut-up downed trees and branches were piled and here was what was on the porch.

More art and the original shutters. 

And this.

Closer look. 

I walked around the house. There was this. And all of these. 

I was completely flat-out mind-blown. I was overcome. 
And still, there was this. 

The pump house shed that Jerry and Bill Wharton built from Smitty's barn wood and windows from the Lake Ella Motor Court. Still there. Smitty, for those of you who have no idea was...oh, fuck. I can't even begin to tell you. Here's a link. 

I took all the pictures. I walked around the house. I saw Phyllis' ironing board hanging up in the laundry room that Jerry and my friend Tom built. I looked inside and it all looked pretty darn good. I remembered growing roses and cucumbers and making pickles and the exact moment I understood that my husband was cheating on me and the day John Lennon died. 

I had to pee. I went around to the side of the house where there was nothing but Polk Berry and I undid my shorts and I squatted and I peed. 

I walked back to my car and those horses led me out. I sent a picture of them to Mr. Moon.

He sent me a text back saying, "Are those real horses or art?"

You choose. 

What a day. 

Love...Ms. Moon


  1. HOLY FUCK! What on god's green earth...I know it's art and it's lovely, etc etc, but I would have probably been scared out of my mind if I were alone. Or maybe it was peaceful.

    What a day you have had!!!! How is Kathleen?

  2. That is awesome! As always, thanks for sharing your adventures with us.

  3. Dang, what a fascinating post. Love the photos, the art, the stories. Loved the links too, even if I vaguely remember reading them, they were fun all over again. I am so glad you slipped thought the woods to get those pictures. Won't somebody want that art I wonder?
    Anyway thanks for the fun read.

  4. That's really cool to see that it's still there. It's a good thing you knew that a sculptor had lived there,otherwise it looks like you stumbled upon something out of a horror movie.

  5. Mary I so admire your ability to make a house your own house it seems no matter where you settle. It is a true gift one I will never own. I barely feel settled in my own skin. I imagine the tears you wept on those floorboards gave birth to what happened next.

  6. Looks like a beautiful spot to shoot a movie... wink wink! That sculpture is incredible and I love the way it's just blending in with the surroundings.


  7. Speechless. That is all just -- for lack of a better word -- wild.

  8. That is UNREAL! So all the sculpture is for sale along with the property? That seems like it will be an awesome find for some art-loving person. If I stumbled onto this place I would buy it in a heartbeat.

    And what a great story about yet another former home.

  9. SJ- It was very peaceful. Very. Kathleen is doing as well as she can. She is glad to be at home in her beautiful house.

    Jill- I am so glad to be able to have a place to put these things. So grateful.

    Mel- I have no idea what's going on with the artwork. It seems to me that someone would want it. It is very powerful and evocative.

    A- Yes. It really was.

    Jon- Well, yes and no. Not exactly a horror movie. A very arty movie, that's for sure.

    Rebecca- Well, I am a very domesticated animal in some ways. It is obvious. And then, you're right- I had to leave for the what came next. But oh, it tore my heart in two.

    Ms. Fleur- It looks like it all just grew there.

    Elizabeth- It's so hard for me to imagine an older woman doing all of this. She was powerful in many ways.

    Denise- Thank-YOU.

    Steve Reed- I have no idea. I should call the agent to find out about it.

    Jo- Yes.

  10. Oh Mary, I am overcome. It seems to me you should buy that house and all its art just to preserve it. It's quite beautiful and strange. And what Rebecca said.

  11. Wow, did you claim it when you peed in the yard? Gail

  12. Angella- I need to just call and see what they're asking for it.

    Gail- No. It is, in some way, always going to be mine as I caused the house to be there in the first place. Mostly I just had to pee and it seemed right.

  13. Search it on, it is there but no pictures of the art. Gail

  14. So so beautiful! A piece of her is now a part of your sweet house... Thank you for sharing these very moving sculptures!

  15. wow! I'll never be able to return to my own first real house. it's torn down now.

  16. Holy shit! I want that house. WANT! It is the fucking house from Road to Mecca! It is play about an old eccentric woman who build statues in her yard and none of her religious neighbours will talk to her but her statures are LIFE giving to her. It is he Mecca. I think I have mentioned this before but whenever i think of that play I think of you. It is the best play I have ever seen by far. If you ever get your hands on a copy of the play not only will you fall in love with it you will want to play Miss Helen.

  17. Gail- Found it! Wow. I don't know but that the asking price is less than what I originally paid for it. I should call that realtor and ask about the artwork which I feel certain will be taken out.

    Big Mamabird- They sure are powerful, aren't they?

    Ellen Abbott- Let us hope this one stays standing.

    Birdie- I'll try to get my hands on a copy. That could be the story of Phyllis Straus' life. How very odd.

  18. I wonder about that artwork, they didn't mention it at all in the description. Your adventure lead me to find the house my husband grew up in, it is for sale, he has been looking at the pictures all day. The house I grew up in burned down. Gail

  19. That is a fantastic place. And the art is amazing.

  20. I am just now catching up on your posts and this one made me cry. The first time I saw those horses was many years ago when they were on display at the FSU Museum of Fine Arts. I'm pretty sure all those other sculptures were on display there too at one time. Phyllis was an amazing artist, friend and co-worker of mine. There is a gallery named in her honor at FSU and here is the link which includes a picture of Phyllis with my favorite sculpture of hers, a life size giraffe:


Tell me, sweeties. Tell me what you think.