Monday, December 12, 2011

Discards - Part 3

My grandfather's cousin,William Robert, came to America with his family as a wee lad in 1914. He was the youngest of 8 children, and would be the last to pass on. Unmarried, he and his sister Lydia bought a home on Perry Street in the 1950's. After his passing in 1987, the house appears to have been left to a nephew, who in turn somewhat signed it over to someone else (possibly a family member).

I say "somewhat" because for some reason the deed may have had an error and the name never actually switched over for the purpose of tax rolls and other legal  type matters such as housing inspections. Eventually the taxes were no longer paid and the house was sold at a City foreclosure sale to an acquaintance. Before it was sold again, same process, I was able to go in and take a few pictures, gather a few mementos.  A lot of the original contents had remained.

Previously, a portion of an article in ArtVoice, "No Vacancy", seemed to be describing the home, so I saved the link, and now have added pictures. Although the damage was mostly in the middle, not front, of the house (as in the 3rd paragraph of the article), it just fits, even if not the same. The pertinent part:

"Tracy Krug and Kevin Coyne act as Comerford’s sheriffs. They spend their days cruising the streets of the city checking on problem properties, helping Comerford decide whether a building is in need of demolition. In Buffalo’s most blighted neighborhoods, they have become familiar faces.

“People get to know you,” Krug says. ”The first thing they ask when you get out is, ‘When are you knocking it down?’”

One afternoon this summer, Krug and Coyne pull up to a Perry Street residence... The yellow house has a locked gate blocking Krug and Coyne from getting to the side door, the only way that it is safe to enter. The floor in the living room, where the front entrance is, is so weak from water damage that it might not support their weight.

Coyne takes the fence off the post with a hammer and they proceed to the side door.
The weeds in the backyard grow as high as the roof of the garage.

Inside, the smell of mold is pervasive. Water has been leaking through the roof and the ceiling in the living room has been crumbling onto the floor.

In the basement, buckets, lawn chairs, and pieces of wood float on over four feet of standing water. Only four of the steps that lead into the basement are visible. The water almost reaches the bottom of the windows (drained at time of picture).

Coyne travels upstairs to check the condition of the attic. Cardboard boxes filled with collectibles, pictures, and old newspapers are scattered about.

“All this cardboard makes this a fire hazard,” Coyne says.  That’s an important diagnosis: The danger posed by so many flammables in an unattended building may allow the Office of Inspections to expedite the house’s demolition.

Krug and Coyne exit the house, screw plywood over the side entrance, and put the fence back on its post. They return to the office to file paperwork on the Perry Street home and others that they had visited that day to be submitted to Comerford or housing court. Next week will be much the same."
Found amid the wreckage (most of it induced by kids and also the latest owner, while looking for salvageable items, some of which was given to me) was a tray, lovingly inscribed from one sister of William Robert to another...

At one time these bookshelves were filled with National Geographics and other books that ended up in a crawl space on the 2nd floor (seen on a slide labeled as a test for the flash)...

The top book by Horatio Algier flipped right out of my hand when I tried to look at it...William Robert must have wanted his childhood books to go down with the ship, as it were...

The remnants of lives well lived are now destined for a landfill, most likely. I went by there yesterday and windows were all completely smashed out, the gate removed, and even the top of the tree in front had broken off.  Our treasures may become someone else's discards (hopefully a little more gracefully), but as long as they give us comfort and while here to enjoy them, that's what matters the most.  And life goes on...

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