Archive

Posts Tagged ‘aladdin kit homes’

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

June 14th, 2018 Sears Homes 5 comments

Last week, I traveled almost 1,000 miles (round trip) to Newberry, South Carolina to learn more about Sadie Bowers, and visit her gravesite. It was also an opportunity to visit James, a dear friend who lives less than 100 miles away from Newberry.

James and I had a wonderful time, and it was one of the happiest times I have experienced in the last two years. And that is a big deal.

One of the unexpected bonuses of travling to Newberry is that I met Ernest Shealy, an architectural historian and curator of the Newberry County Historical Museum. He was a most gracious host, and drove me throughout Newberry, so that I might find and identify a few kit homes.

I only recognized two kit homes, both from Aladdin.

As to Sadie Bowers, she was one of the women workers at Penniman, Virginia. In fact, she worked in the Booster Plant, considered the most hazardous work at the munitions plant. Oh, how I’d love to learn more about this woman and her work at Penniman.

If you have any information to share about Sadie, please leave a comment below!

To learn more about Sadie, click here.

Want to know how to identify kit homes? Click here.

*

I didnt find any Sears kit homes in Newberry, but I did see two houses from Aladdin. Like Sears, Aladdin also sold kit homes through their mail-order catalog.

I didn't find any Sears kit homes in Newberry, but I did see two houses from Aladdin. Like Sears, Aladdin also sold kit homes through their mail-order catalog.

*

The Aladdin Plaza was one of the most popular houses that Aladdin offered in their early 1900s catalog.

The Aladdin Plaza was one of the most popular houses that Aladdin offered in their early 1900s catalog. Note the flared column bases and unique railing. Also note the 12/1 windows on the front porch.

*

And heres a delightful Aladdin Plaza in Newberry, South Carolina.

And here's a delightful Aladdin Plaza in Newberry, South Carolina. The partially enclosed front porch does not diminish it's unique beauty. And best of all, it retains its original windows.

*

This

This angle shows off a little bit of that original railing. You can also see those original Aladdin windows better. Do these owners know that it's an Aladdin kit home, that arrived at the Newberry Train Depot in a boxcar with 12,000 pieces? Probably not. Should we tell them? ;)

*

The Aladdin Pomona was another very popular house. Its one of my favorites, too.

The Aladdin Pomona was another very popular house. It's one of my favorites, too. It's a classic bungalow, and has several unique features, including the diamond muntins, flared porch columns, and open eave brackets. It's a beauty.

*

This Pomona in Newberry is in perfect condition, and looks much like it did when built in the late 1910s or early 1920s.

This Pomona in Newberry is in perfect condition, and looks much like it did when built in the late 1910s or early 1920s. And as with the Plaza, this also retains its original windows.

*

What a beauty!

What a beauty!

*

Its not a kit house, but heres the house where Sadie Bowers (Penniman worker) lived with her Mama. Sadie was almost 88 years old when she passed on. After the war, she returned to her native city (Newberry), and lived there the rest of her long life.

It's not a kit house, but here's the house where Sadie Bowers (Penniman worker) lived with her Mama. Sadie was almost 88 years old when she passed on. After the war, she returned to her native city (Newberry), and lived there the rest of her long life.

*

When I told Ernest that I wanted to find the grave stone for Sadie Bowers, he knew right where to look! He literally drove RIGHT to it! I was so impressed.

When I told Ernest that I wanted to find the grave stone for Sadie ("Sarah") Bowers, he knew right where to look! He literally drove RIGHT to it! I was so impressed.

*

He drove

That's the beauty part of having the town's historian drive you around town. Ernest knew everything that there is to know about Newberry and its history. I was really bedazzled by his encyclopedic knowledge. And he was so generous with this time.

*

I also got a fine tour of the Newberry Museum.

I also got a fine tour of the Newberry Museum. This display discussed traditional funeral practices of the 19th Century. It was well done and very interesting.

*

And of course, this caught my eye.

And of course, this caught my eye. The upside of Facebook is that I've connected with many wonderful and generous women who have also lost their husband to suicide. The downside is, when I post things on my personal Facebook page, too many folks have said things like, "You need to be on an anti-depressant" or "You need to forgive him and move on" or "You should be making better progress." One hundred years ago, people were given permission to mourn the sudden and tragic death of their spouse. I'm at the two-year mark, and I can tell you, I will never "be over" this. God willing, in another few months, my life will become increasingly mundane and peaceful, with sprinkles of joy here and there. Or so I hope and pray.

*

This modest museum is definitely worth the trip. Also on display was this amazing contraption for curling womens hair. It was in use at the Newberry beauty salon, and according to the legend, a woman with a steel plate in her skull sat down for a permanent, and when the electrified curlers made contact with her wet scalp, she was instantly electrocuted. I would love to know if that story is possible, plausible or true.

This modest museum is definitely worth the trip. Also on display was this amazing contraption for curling women's hair. It was in use at the Newberry beauty salon, and according to the legend, a woman with a steel plate in her skull sat down for a permanent, and when the electrified curlers made contact with her wet scalp, she was instantly electrocuted. I would love to know if that story is possible, plausible or true.

*

The name plate on the device is certainly interesting.

The name plate on the device is interesting. The graphic says it all.

*

James lives in a beautiful place. Its almost too beautiful to be real.

James lives in a beautiful place. It's almost too beautiful to be real.

*

If you have any information to share about Sadie, please leave a comment below!

To learn more about Sadie, click here.

Want to know how to identify kit homes? Click here.

*

Penniman Par-TAY! It’s DONE!

May 24th, 2018 Sears Homes 6 comments

Updated! Good lecture. Good times.  :D

Ghost Towns.

Virginia History.

Phenomenal Personal Sacrifice.

Women workers.

And a devastating epidemic that wiped out so many workers that the local cemeteries ran out of space.

Penniman has all of these elements and more, and it’s a great story that needs to be told.

On Saturday, May 26, 2018, I’m giving a talk on Penniman at the James City County Library, at 2:00 pm.

YOU MISSED IT! ;)

If you’re able, please attend and learn more about this forgotten chapter of Virginia’s history!

To learn more about Penniman, click here.

Bricks from the Penniman smokestack were salvaged to build a school for African-American children.

*

My information on Penniman is always expanding and changing! Last week, I obtained this Penniman fob on Ebay.

The information on Penniman is always expanding and changing! Last week, I obtained this Penniman fob on Ebay. This fob would have been worn by the workers at the DuPont plant, six miles outside of Williamsburg. Who is this young man? How I wish that I knew.

*

f

The rear of the fob shows more detail.

*

F

Come learn about Penniman!

*

To learn more about Penniman, click here.

*

Compartmentalizing the Sacred Spaces

February 25th, 2018 Sears Homes 5 comments

As my friends know, I consider the Open Floor Plan to be a plague spot on American architecture, and it’s a plague that continues to spread.

The home I recently purchased in Suffolk has lots and lots of walls and a few doors, and I’m a big fan of walls and doors.

Nonetheless, one of my favorite rooms in the house - the den at the southeastern end of the house - had two cased openings but no doors.

The den has become my “nest” where I can curl up on the couch and watch TV or just look out the large sliding glass door into the peaceful back yard. In the morning, sunlight streams in through the three capacious windows. It’s the only room in the house that has windows on three of its four sides.

I wanted doors, but didn’t want to obstruct any of that wonderful light in the contiguous rooms (kitchen and dining room).

So I came up with a plan. Check out the pictures to see my unique idea.

To read one of my favorite blogs, click here.

*

As Teddy demonstrates, there is no door between the kitchen and the den. Not good. I need doors and lots of them.

As Teddy demonstrates, there is no door between the kitchen and the den. Not good. I need doors and lots of them. My "nest" can be seen in the background. And yes, that's an enormous stuffed horse.

*

And when I curl up on my nest (on the couch in the den), I can see the kitchen. Not good. The kitchen should not be seen or heard. I dont want to think about the kitchen. Ever.

And when I curl up on my nest (on the couch in the den), I can see the kitchen. Not good. The kitchen should not be seen or heard. I don't want to think about the kitchen. Ever.

*

So I had an idea...and it started with these doors.

So I had an idea...and it started with these doors. These are bifold doors, ordered from Lowes Hardware. I purchased two sets of these doors (on sale) 24" wide, so that the two sets would match my 48" cased opening.

*

FFF

They arrived expeditiously and in fine shape. I removed the hinges and patched the small holes left behind. The hinges were surface mount (not mortised), so it was easy to patch the screw holes.

*

Bypass

I also purchased this "bypass closet door track kit." It's designed for closet doors, and the "bypass" allows for two doors to be on the same track. According to the weight specs, it was more than sturdy enough to support my discombobulated French Doors.

*

Next, I installed a double bypass track in the top of the doorway. This is a track that lets two doors slide past each other.

Next, I installed the track in the doorway. It was one inch too long and had to be cut down. Installation was very simple and fast. I didn't use the screws that came with the kit, but opted for something more substantial.

*

Next, I affixed the corresponding rollers to the top of these wooden french doors.

Next, I affixed the corresponding rollers to the top of these wooden doors.

*

With the track in place, installing the doors was quite simple.

With the track in place, installing the doors was quite simple.

*

And they worked so well!

And they worked so well!

*

And looked so pretty!

And looked so pretty!

*

After a brief moment of admiration, I pulled them down for painting.

After a brief moment of admiration, I pulled them down for painting. The doors were of excellent quality, and the glass was covered with plastic to protect the glass during painting. I applied one coat of primer and two coats of paint. This was the most time-consuming process of all. These doors sat in my den (on sawhorses, atop plastic) for quite some time.

*

After

After the painting was done, they were reinstalled (which took a few seconds). Even with the paint slopped over the edges, they looked quite attractive.

*

And once completed, it looked fantastic.

And once completed, it looked fantastic.

*

They can be opened partially.

They look good partially shut...

*

Or fully

Or shut all the way.

*

ff

Even the dinette set (in the kitchen) is happier.

*

Before and After photos (actually, theyre in the wrong order).

"Before and After" photos. Actually, they're in the wrong order. The "after photo" is on the left. Oops.

*

Best of all, I can sit on my couch and not see the kitchen very well!

Best of all, I can sit on my couch and not see the kitchen! Mission accomplished.

*

Id thought about installing something like this, but it was too big and bulky and didnt fit the style of the house. Plus, I didnt have the wall space.

Originally, I'd thought about installing something like this, but it was too big and bulky and didn't fit the style of the house. Plus, I didn't have the wall space. And it would cut off the light from the other rooms. Not good.

*

With these French Doors, the sunlight still fills the house!

With these French Doors, the sunlight still fills the house! Total cost was $280 for the two sets of bifold doors (seen above) and about $35 for the hardware.

*

To read one of my favorite blogs, click here.

Read more about the open floor plan (and why it’s so evil) here.

*

Ladies, Where Are Your Names (and Stories)?

February 19th, 2018 Sears Homes 1 comment

While little is known about the men who worked at Penniman, even less is known about the women of Penniman, and yet, the majority of the workforce at DuPont’s 37th munitions plant were women.

Loading TNT powder into 75mm and 155mm shells was a nasty bit of business, and the women suffered deleterious effects from this work. The health problems associated with the work was so common that it had a name: TNT poisoning. Both medical journals and journals on industrial hygiene talked about this phenomenon at length.

TNT caused multitudinous problems to health, but perhaps the most severe was this: It damaged the bone marrows ability to produce white blood cells, and without white blood cells, the body can’t effectively fight off infection.

And then the Spanish Flu came to Penniman.

The death count at Penniman was so high that local papers said the numbers were unbelievable. Stories in the press said that coffins were stacked “rafter high” at the Penniman depot, day after day.

A lesser, but more obvious effect of TNT poisoning, was that it turned the women’s skin a bright yellow. (TNT was a relatively new invention, created by Joseph Wilbrand [in Germany] in 1863 as a yellow dye.) The workers at Penniman  were known as “Canaries” because of this dramatic change in their appearance.

In a desperate bid to mitigate the effects of TNT poisoning, the women workers at Penniman were given special uniforms, that were cinched at the ankles, waist and wrist to keep the ultra-fine TNT powder from lodging on their skin. Most women wore scarves around their neck.

I would love to know more about these women and to hear their story. Right now, I only have names for a handful of the women workers at Penniman, including Penelope Johnson and Sadie Bowers.

It’d be so helpful to know more about these women and their life at Penniman.

To read more about the Canaries, click here and here.

Want to learn about one of my personal heroes? Click here.

Thanks to the generosity of the family of Dr. John Henderson, I’m now in possession of “The Penniman Projectile,” which has a picture of the female workers in their uniform!

*

This image, from the 1918 Ladies Home Journal, shows the uniform of a munitions worker.

This image, from the 1918 Ladies' Home Journal, shows the uniform of a munitions worker.

*

And this image, from the December 1918 Penniman Projectile shows the female workforce at Penniman.

This image, from the December 1918 "Penniman Projectile" shows some of the female workforce on the shell-loading lines at Penniman in their DuPont-issued uniforms. Notice the caps! The men (seated) look quite dour.

*

Itd be lovely to know more about the women of Penniman. I do know that the YWCA was the heart of Camp Penniman (as it was known), and for several weeks, the YWCA offered morality speakers to help the young, and oftimes naive women, stay away from mashers and sailors.

It'd be lovely to know more about the women of Penniman. I do know that the YWCA was the heart of Camp Penniman (as it was known), and for several weeks, the YWCA offered "morality speakers" to help the young and oftimes naive women stay away from mashers, soldiers and sailors.

*

To read more about the Canaries, click here and here.

*

Nope, It’s Not a Sears Magnolia…

February 10th, 2018 Sears Homes 3 comments

In the last 20 years, I’ve probably received more than 200 emails and inquiries from folks who think they’ve found a Sears Magnolia. In the last 20 years, I’ve found four Magnolias as a result of these emails and inquiries.

That means that 2% of the time, these comments are correct.

And yet, I still feel a rush of adrenaline when someone leaves a comment stating that there is a Sears Magnolia at (fill in the blank).

This morning, as I was preparing to write a blog on Penniman’s people, I found a fresh comment from someone stating that there was a Sears Magnolia in Hawkinsville, Georgia. Immediately, I assumed that they must be right and abandoned the blog I’d been working on to investigate this purported sighting.

Again, it was not a Magnolia. And yet, this one was closer than most.

Please keep those cards and letters coming.  :D

To learn more about Sears kit homes, click here.

Even the little town of Poquoson has a few kit homes.

*

The Sears Magnolia was probalby Sears fanciest model.

The Sears Magnolia was probably Sears fanciest model. It was offered from 1918 to 1922, and sold for less than $6,000. There are only nine known Magnolias in the country.

*

First, the real deal. This is a known Magnolia in Benson, NC.

First, the real deal. This is a known Magnolia in Benson, NC.

*

In 2003, I appeared on History Detectives (PBS) and this Sears Magnolia was briefly featured (Canton, Ohio).

In 2003, I appeared on "History Detectives" (PBS) and this Sears Magnolia was briefly featured (Canton, Ohio).

*

A reader mentioned this alleged Magnolia in Hawkinsville, Georgia. Im sorry to say that this is NOT a Magnolia.

A reader mentioned this "alleged" Magnolia in Hawkinsville, Georgia. I'm sorry to say that this is NOT a Magnolia. This building is currently in use as "Clark Funeral Home" and this photo is from their website and here's hoping that they're okay with me promoting their beautiful old house on my blog. And it IS a beautiful old house, but it's not a Sears house.

*

To learn more about Sears kit homes, click here.

Even the little town of Poquoson has a few kit homes.

Interested in learning more about Clark Funeral Home? Click here.

*

Two Months Since My Last Blog…

December 27th, 2017 Sears Homes 13 comments

This Christmas, my second as a widow, was a vast improvement over my first (last year). This year, my three daughters made the long trek to my recently acquired home in Suffolk, Virginia and we had a lovely time together on Christmas morning.

This morning (Wednesday), everyone went back home and that was tough. For three glorious days, I was not the widow of a man who took his own life, but a mother to three beautiful girls, and with their good energy and happy enthusiasm, we created some lovely new memories.

And yet, this morning, the tears returned. Two of the girls (and their significant others) live more than 600 miles away. I miss them so very much, and yet they’re in their 30s. I raised them to be independent, strong-willed, self-supporting, capable adults, ready and able to “fly the coop.”

They’re back home now, far away, and I realize that I need a strong distraction for the hours and the days and the weeks and the months.

I’m wondering if it’s time for me to move into the next phase, which is finding a job or volunteer work. My writing days are behind me. Right now, it’s hard to imagine that I’ll ever write another book. I never did like writing. It’s misery and it’s solitude and as far as income goes, it’s barely more than a hobby. The Penniman book (which represented six years of research) is being polished and prepared for a second printing.

What’s a former writer and historian to do?

I just don’t know.

I do know that sitting in my lovely house and sobbing every morning and every evening isn’t a good plan.

As always, please keep me in your prayers and please leave a comment below.

*

For Christmas, my three daughters wrote "love notes" on bits of paper and put them in this vintage cookie tin. It was one of the loveliest and most thoughtful gifts I've ever received. The tin is just like a tin from my childhood home.

For Christmas, my three daughters wrote "love notes" on bits of paper and put them in this vintage cookie tin. It was one of the loveliest and most thoughtful gifts I've ever received. The tin is just like a tin from my childhood home. If I remember correctly, my mother purchased a tin much like this in the 1960s, and she would "bake" that small glass plug in the oven for 10-15 minutes. The idea was that those absorbent crystals would keep things crisp.

Another “Sears House” Featured on HGTV?

July 17th, 2017 Sears Homes 14 comments

An update! It’s not a “Sears kit house,” but a Penniman house. Kind of. :D

And “Sears House” is in quotes, because we all know, 99% of the time (or maybe 100%), these horrible TV shows get it wrong. And they are horrible.

One of the first rules of old house ownership is “Thou Shalt Not Destroy Good Old Work,” and yet that is the first thing that these programs encourage.

They rip out all manner of quality workmanship in kitchens and baths, so that they can put in poor-quality plasticine (but trendy) dreck and dregs, which lack classic or traditional beauty, and will be tired and dated before this decade ends, and it’s all in the name of convincing American homeowners that “good enough” is abhorrent and ghastly, and that you shouldn’t worry about “keeping up with the Joneses” but rather, you should be focused on keeping up with the Kardashians.

For the last several months, I’ve been searching for a home and in that process, I’ve looked at several foreclosures in the $175,000+ range. I’ve yet to see a house in original condition in foreclosure. The homes I’ve viewed are either half-way “remodeled” (and how I hate that word), or they have shiny new kitchens and baths. If you have several thousand dollars that you can set fire to, try something truly avant-garde - PUT THAT MONEY IN A SAVINGS ACCOUNT.

This remodeling craze is insanity and it’s also ecological idiocy.

More than 35% of all the detritus at landfills is construction debris. Every time you rip out a full kitchen of knotty pine cabinets or destroy a pink bathroom, you’re adding to this country’s burgeoning problem of solid waste. Our landfills are filling up at a tremendous clip. As homeowners, we are caretakers. We have a responsibility to preserve the unique features of an old house. If you want shiny and fancy and new, buy a house that is shiny and fancy and new.

But I digress…

Let’s go back to HGTV (Houses Getting Totally Vandalized) and their latest discussion on Sears Houses.

According to a friend, Season 11, Episode 7 of “House Hunters” featured a Sears House in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m unable to find even screen shot of the house featured on this show, so if anyone can capture images for me, I’d be very grateful.

And in the meantime, please tell your vinyl-loving friends, if they want a new house, they should buy a new house, and leave our old houses unmolested and undamaged.

*

Before there was HGTV, Bob Vila misidentified a house in California as a Sears Home. On "Home Again" he identified this house as a "Sears Craftsman Bungalow" and a "Sears Crescent." Since this house was in the Los Angeles area, you think he would have considered Pacific Ready Cut Homes first, but he didn't. Years ago, I did track down and speak with the home's owner, and sent  him a picture out of the PRCH catalog, showing him the proper model name. He was very pleased.

Before there was HGTV, Bob Vila misidentified a house in California as a Sears Home (about 1999-2000). On "Home Again" he identified this house as a "Sears Craftsman Bungalow" and a "Sears Crescent." Since this house was in the Los Angeles area, you think he would have considered Pacific Ready Cut Homes first, but he didn't. Years ago, I did track down and speak with the home's owner, and sent him a picture out of the PRCH catalog, showing him the proper model name. He was very pleased.

*

On a recent episode of Property Brothers, they destroyed this delightful old bathtub and bathroom to put in some new ugly crap.

On a recent episode of "Property Brothers," they destroyed this delightful old bathtub and bathroom for no other reason than to "remodel" the space. That gorgeous basketweave tile floor is also in the landfill now.

*

Shown above is an expensive kitchen remodel in a 1961 brick ranch in Portsmouth, Virginia, and it's in foreclosure. The original kitchen is sitting in a landfill somewhere, as are the plaster walls and studs that defined the kitchen, dining room and living room.

Shown above is an expensive kitchen remodel in a 1961 brick ranch in Portsmouth, Virginia, and it's in foreclosure. The original kitchen is sitting in a landfill somewhere, as are the plaster walls and studs that defined the kitchen, dining room and living room.

*

Shown above is an expensive kitchen remodel in a 1961 brick ranch in Portsmouth, Virginia, and it's in foreclosure. The original kitchen is sitting in a landfill somewhere, as are the plaster walls and studs that defined the kitchen, dining room and living room.  The bathroom (from the same house shown above) has also been gutted and destroyed. Built in 1960, the original bathroom would have had tile wainscoting, set in 2-3 inches of thickset mortar, with complementing tile flooring. Those materials - which would have survived a nuclear holocaust - have been replaced with MDF cabinetry and engineered wood floors. In place of the tile wainscoting, someone has put up sheetrock with knock-down plaster finish. If these inferior-grade materials survive for 10 years, it will be a Christmas miracle.

*

This

This is how America did bathrooms in the 1960s. This bathroom shown above (located at 1889 Rosemary Lane) is now more than 50 years old, and yet looks wonderful. And yes, that's the original toilet in the background. Today's replacement materials - in many cases - are not going to survive more than 20 years, at best.

*

According to a friend, Season 11, Episode 7 of “House Hunters” featured a Sears House in Nashville, Tennessee. I’m unable to find so much as a screen shot of this show, so if anyone can capture images for me, I’d be very grateful.

To contact me, please leave a comment below.

Look at a real Sears Crescent by clicking here.

*

Photobucket is Down - Again. Updated in August 2017.

April 17th, 2016 Sears Homes 12 comments

When photobucket goes down, all of my pictures disappear. That’s what is happening right now, and it started last night.

If one of my readers could recommend an alternative photo hosting site, I’d be very glad to know about it. One that is easy to use.

I’m currently a “paid” customer at Photobucket, so this is even more disturbing.

I’d like to post a cute picture here but that picture - like the other 5,492 pictures at this site - would not appear.

Thanks so much.

*

*

****************

****************

Now I know. The following post explains how much pain my suicidal husband inflicted on me. At the end of this long post, you’ll find an update (written May 2018) which explains how I finally found some peace.

***

And 18 hours after I posted this blog on April 17, 2016 (at 6:18 pm), my husband was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the brain stem.

I don’t know if anyone is reading this, as it’s an old unimportant picture-less blog, but I will share this with the lone reader or two that stumbles onto this forgotten page: If you want to completely destroy your spouse, Wayne Ringer found the perfect method. Leave work abruptly, after co-workers overhear an argument with your wife, over the phone. Who cares that it’s a fight that he staged, and pre-planned. After this fight, send your wife a text that blames her for your ghastly act, and then - right before you pull the trigger - put that phone in a front pocket, so that it’s not damaged from bodily fluids, because you know that the police will check your phone and read that message and then word will spread far and wide that you - Wayne Ringer - were driven to this act by your shrew of a wife.

Leave a message with your adulteress (a woman that you claimed you loathed because she “could never keep her big fat mouth shut”) and tell that woman - over and over again - that your wife is a miserable bitch that you despise. After your death by suicide, she’ll be a very “useful idiot” and repeat that story to anyone and everyone that gives her a hearing.

That wife - that “drove you to this” - would be the wife who cooked her husband hundreds of heart-healthy meals, who slipped him fish-oil tablets, to make sure he lived longer, the wife who looked deep into his eyes during the passionate moments and said, “I love you so much that I can’t even find the words to express it.” That would be the wife who told him, “I pray God that I pass before you, because I can’t imagine living without you.”

That would be the wife that frequently told him, “You’re the most brilliant man walking this earth. Of that I am sure.”

That would be the wife who covered him in prayers every morning and every evening. That would be the wife that asked God to surround him in light and love. That would be the wife that asked God to send His angels to keep him safe at City Hall. That would be the wife who hungered for his kiss and longed for his  touch. That would be the wife that stopped gardening, cleaning, writing, cooking or whatever - and ran to the door at 5:40 every evening to greet him with a passionate kiss, because she was glad that he was home, safe and sound. That would be the wife who photographed him thousands of times in ten years, just because “you’re the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen.”

Since his death, I’ve struggled mightily just to face every hour. I live in 15-minute increments. I can no longer read the Bible, so I listen to hymns.

Mainly, I watch TV and most of that is violent crime shows. Pre-April 2016, I despised these very shows. Too graphic. Too violent. Too disturbing. But now, it’s like “Hurt”, the song by Johnny Cash. He sings,

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that’s real.

Thanks be to God, I have avoided “cutting” although I well understand the temptation. I went through my drug phase and my alcoholic phase and my suicidal phase, and now, I’m in the “numb phase.” Maybe that’s why I watch crime shows. It’s my current drug of choice. It turns off my over-heated emotional hard drive. And in the shows that I watch, the bad guy loses and the good guy wins.

For most of my life, I believed in divine justice. Now I’m not sure what to believe. My deeply-entrenched religious belief system and spiritual faith has been set on fire and thrown out the front door. Now it sits in the street, a smoldering ash heap, the remnant of 50+ years of devout faith and daily work.

After Wayne’s death, I learned that he was not a faithful husband. That has cost me so much pain. Pain on top of pain on top of pain.

Every now and then, I return to this blog and think about the day that I got so frustrated about photobucket. I get so angry with myself because I should not have gotten on that plane Monday morning (April 18, 2016). God should have told me to stay home, to sneak back to the house and wait for him. I knew he was troubled. But I’d seen him troubled before, still, as a sensitive soul, I should have known. I should have stopped him. I should have canceled the trip. I should have been there. And there’s this: I lost my boarding pass that morning at Norfolk International Airport. Was that a sign from God that I should go back home? Could this have been avoided if I had not been so insistent to get on that plane to Boston?

What if he had found me in the living room that day when he came home at 10:30 am? Could I have stopped him? Or would he have killed me too? Either one of those scenarios seem like a better outcome than what I now must face every day of my life.

So, I don’t know if anyone will ever see this blog again. These old picture-less blogs get buried in the 1000+ blogs I’ve published at this site. But if you have read this, you know now the real secrets of this widow’s heart.

I’m not a writer. I’m not a historian. I’m not sure what I am. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know who I am. And I don’t know what I believe.

I really don’t know.

****************

******************

*

Updated in May 2018: It’s taken two years, and now I know with certainty, I had nothing to do with his suicide. I wasn’t that important to him. I wasn’t important enough to have any influence - for good or for bad.

There’s more, but that’s all I can post publicly.

And with that, I find my heart healing a little bit, day by day.

Thank you for your prayers. I am truly, honestly, deeply grateful.

*

*****************

*

*

Richard Nixon’s Childhood Home in Yorba Linda, California

April 15th, 2016 Sears Homes 1 comment

Every now and then, I get a call about someone famous who grew up in a Sears kit home.

In 2009, I was contacted by a big-deal rock star (through his representative). This musician wanted to know if the house he’d grown up in was a Sears kit house! That was a lot of fun, but I also made a promise to not disclose their identity, so that takes some of the zing out of the whole affair!

In 2004, someone called and asked me to help identify Richard Nixon’s birthplace home in Yorba Linda, California. I was  honored and flattered and excited! I’m sorry to say I don’t remember her name, but she identified herself as an historian trying to document the origins of Nixon’s childhood home in Yorba Linda.

After studying every catalog in my possession and seeking help from my buddies, Rebecca Hunter and Dale Wolicki, I came up with a big zero.

We kinda sorta decided that the house probably came from the Pacific Ready-Cut Homes company (based in Los Angeles), but honestly, we just didn’t know for sure. Sometimes, the passage of time helps answer the hard questions, as new materials become available and knowledge expands.

That has not been the case with Nixon’s home. We have many catalogs for Pacific Ready-Cut Homes (thanks to Dale), but nothing within those catalogs shows a house like this. Based in Los Angeles, Pacific Ready Cut Homes sold more than 40,000 kit homes, and like Sears, they started selling houses in 1908. It’s possible that Nixon’s house came from an early PRCH catalog (which are scarce as hen’s teeth).

Here’s what we do know:

Richard M. Nixon was one of four sons born to Frank and Hannah Nixon. According to the legend,Frank Nixon built this house in 1913 from a kit on his citrus farm in Yorba Linda, California. Nixon and his family lived in this house until 1922, when they moved to Whittier.

While reading up on this house, I stumbled across a wonderful website with many glorious photos.

To learn more about Pacific Ready Cut Homes, click here.

The photo below came from www.Jackassinahailstorm.com, a wonderful website which I highly recommend!

House

Despite much searching, I was never able to identify the origins of this little cottage.

*

To learn more about Pacific Ready Cut Homes, click here.

The photo shown above came from www.Jackassinahailstorm.com, a wonderful website which I highly recommend!

*

The Croydon: A Spanking New Outlook!

February 22nd, 2016 Sears Homes No comments

So read the liner notes for the Sears “Croydon,” a darling Tudor Revival from the late 1930s.

From what we can discern, the Croydon was offered only in 1939 and 1940, the final two years of the Sears Modern Homes program. These post-1935 Sears Homes are scarce as hen’s teeth, and discovering a Croydon is a remarkable thing. And, it removes another “never seen this one” model from my life list!

The joy of discovering this rare bird goes wholly to Jeff S. Alterman, who not only found it, but provided all the photos you’ll see below.

To see Rose and Rebecca’s list list, click here.

Read more about Sears Homes here.

*

For years and years, wed always believed that the 1939 and 1940 Sears Modern Homes catalogs were identical. Reading up on The Croydon we learned that this wasnt the case.

For years and years, we'd always believed that the 1939 and 1940 Sears Modern Homes catalogs were identical, and that the 1940 catalog was a straight reprint of the 1939. Reading up on "The Croydon" we learned that this wasn't the case.

*

In 1940, the Croydon looked like this.

In the 1940 catalog, the Croydon looked like this.

*

In the 1939 catalog, it looked like this.

In the 1939 catalog, it looked like this. Remember that feature in "Highlights Magazine" where readers were invited to spot the differences in two images? Let's play that game here.

*

Here, Ill make it easier.

Here, I'll make it easier.

*

The Croydon that Jeff found in Hastings-on-Hudson

The Croydon that Jeff found in Hastings-on-Hudson is a beautiful match to the 1939 catalog image. (I'm assuming you figured out the difference between the 1939 and the 1940 by now.) Photo is copyright 2015 Jeff S. Alterman and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

And heres a fun close-up of

And here's a fun close-up of the detail on that bell-cast asymmetrical front gable. I love this photo and am so tickled that Jeff's keen eye decided to zoom in on this. Plus, it shows that the Croydon had functional shutters - very unusual for a Sears Home. Only a handful of models had working shutters; most were ornamental. Photo is copyright 2015 Jeff S. Alterman and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Reason #1,489 that vinyl-siding salesmen should be legislatively banned from all old-house neighborhoods. Technicially, this is aluminum trim (not vinyl) but cmon. This is a special kind of ugly.

Reason #1,489 that vinyl-siding salesmen should be legislatively banned from old-house neighborhoods. Technically, this is aluminum trim (not vinyl) but c'mon. Instead of peddling your putrid products so aggressively, why not suggest to the homeowners that this particular piece of front-facing trim be left uncovered, and simply be re-painted once every 10 years or so. Photo is copyright 2015 Jeff S. Alterman and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

f

Back to the happy comments: The Croydon was a beautiful house. What a pity that this model in Hastings-on-Hudson may be one of only a handful ever built in the country. However, this one is in beautiful condition. Photo is copyright 2015 Jeff S. Alterman and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

That upstairs is actually quite spacious.

That upstairs is actually spacious, with two bedrooms and a full bath. Photo is copyright 2015 Jeff S. Alterman and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

F

If you ascend in your Sears & Roebuck™ drone and remove the home's roof, this is what you'll find.

*

f

As Sears Homes go, those two bedrooms are pretty spacious.

*

Did you figure this out?

Did you figure this out? The 1939 model (left) has that dramatic bell-cast roof reaching almost to the ground, together with a short brick pedestal on the right side. The 1940 model (right) doesn't have those eye-catching features.

*

Did you miss that small pedestal adjoining the gable when you first glanced at our Croydon in Hastings-on-Hudson? I sure did!

Did you miss that small pedestal adjoining the gable when you first glanced at our Croydon in Hastings-on-Hudson? I sure did! BTW, if one of my smart friends can give me the proper architectural term for that, I'd be grateful. I'm tempted to call it a "sideways cheek" but that is probably not right. Photo is copyright 2015 Jeff S. Alterman and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Thanks so much to Jeff for sharing his expertise and his photos!

Thanks so much to Jeff for sharing his expertise and his photos!

*

By the way, while google driving around a bit in Hastings-on-Hudson, I found this glorious Sears Gladstone around 17 Hillside, which Jeff tells me isnt included on the main list.

While "google driving" around a bit in Hastings-on-Hudson, I found this glorious Sears "Gladstone" around 17 Hillside, which Jeff tells me isn't included on the main list. I'd love to come to Hastings-on-Hudson sometime a do a proper street-by-street survey! I found several Sears Homes (and a rare GVT house) in a short time in this delightful New York town.

*

Thanks again to Jeff S. Alterman for the beautiful  pictures.

To join our happy group on Facebook, click here.

Did you love Highlights Magazine as a kid? You’ll want to read this.

*