Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Sears kit Homes’

The Final Touches of a Career…

February 3rd, 2019 Sears Homes 9 comments

When I started the “Sears Kit Homes” group on Facebook in 2009 (thanks to Rachel for remembering!), I dragged 12 friends into the group just so it wouldn’t look so pitiful. As the years passed, the group grew in numbers and I was gobsmacked when we passed the “1,000 members” mark.

In Fall 2018, when Sears started circling the drain, interest in the old kit homes was renewed, and I was doing 3-4 interviews per week (with the media) and that’s when membership in the Facebook group exploded.

As of today, it has 3,234 members and is still growing by leaps and bounds.

Yesterday, I mentioned (within the group) that I didn’t have many books left, and when these went, that was the end of it. Within hours, I sold more than 50 books (several different titles) and stayed up last night until 2:30 getting them packaged and ready for Monday’s mail.

As I said in a prior blog, I’ll always love the old kit homes, and I’ll still spin my head around when a pretty one passes me by, but the days of staying up until the wee hours inscribing, signing and packaging books are behind me.

Soon, I’ll be packing up my house and moving to the Midwest. Perhaps once I’m settled, I’ll revisit the question but for now, I’m done.

There are still 18 books left in my basement. It’d be swell to sell those last few before I head out! (Hint, hint!)

To buy the book, click here.

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And if this book has brought you a blessing, please leave a comment below.

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In 2011, I snapped this photo in Edwardsville, IL and it still takes my breath away. I was there to do an architectural survey, and I stumbled upon this view and it reminded me of why I love the Midwest. I'm seriously considering moving to Edwardsville when I get to the Midwest.

In 2011, I snapped this photo in Edwardsville, IL and it still takes my breath away. I was there to do an architectural survey, and I stumbled upon this view and it reminded me of why I love the Midwest. Edwardsville has become a beautiful community, filled with shops and history and bucolic beauty. It may be where I land.

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The group now has more than 3,000 members and is still growing.

The group now has more than 3,000 members and is still growing.

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Saturday night, I stayed up until 2:30 am, signing, inscribing and packaging books. I'm still not sure how I'll get these to the post office.

Saturday night, I stayed up until 2:30 am, signing, inscribing and packaging books. I'm still not sure how I'll get these to the post office.

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First printed in 2002, this book has taken me to many wonderful places. It's been a fun run, but for now - for the first time in 17 years - it will be out of print. It would take another book to explain the many blessings of this book but in short, it was published just as my mother died and my marriage of 24 years came to an end. This book (and the grace of God) not only saved me, but it transformed my life and gave me a purpose. Best of all, it introduced me to hundreds of wonderful people, some of whom became lifelong friends.

First printed in 2002, this book has taken me to many wonderful places. It's been a fun run, but for now - for the first time in 17 years - it will be out of print. It would take another book to explain the many blessings of this book but in short, it was published just as my mother died and my marriage of 24 years came to an end. This book (and the grace of God) not only saved me, but transformed my life and gave me a purpose. Best of all, it introduced me to hundreds of wonderful people, some of whom became lifelong friends.

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

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The End of an Era…

January 24th, 2019 Sears Homes 11 comments

Sears appears to be going out of business, and in a few months, my little book business will follow suit.

In 1999, I started working on a book about Sears kit homes. In early 2002, it was self-published, and I used 50% of my net worth to produce 1,000 copies. In 2004, I did a comprehensive revision.

That fun little niche book changed my life in so many ways, and all of them good. Suddenly, I was “The Author” and was treated with much respect and admiration by many lovely people.

By 2004, I’d appeared on PBS History Detectives, A&E’s Biography, CBS Sunday Morning News, and my little book even made it to Jeopardy in the Summer of 2004. In print, the story of my unusual career had been featured in countless newspapers such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Chicago Tribune, and the Dallas Morning News (and about 100 others).

Before my lectures, I’d often get invited to join a group of history lovers at a local restaurant, and even though I never could eat a bite before my talk, I enjoyed getting to know folks. At one such dinner, a woman said to me, “We’re in the midst of a celebrity!” Excitedly, I glanced around the table and whispered, “Really? Where are they?”

She laughed and said, “No, I’m talking about YOU!”

In California, a faithful reader took me aside and said, “I’m so excited to meet you. In my world, you’re a rock star!”

At a hotel in Iowa, the clerk that was checking me in extended her hand across the tall granite counter that separated us and said, “Mrs. Thornton, I’d like to shake your hand. I read about you in yesterday’s paper, and I’ve always wanted to shake the hand of a real author.” (I remember thinking, “I hope you meet a real author one day!”)

There are no words to say how much those kind words touched my heart and lifted my spirits. And now it’s time to take a step of progress to The Next Super-Dooper Thing™.

In the last 20 years, I’ve written nine books, hundreds of newspaper articles and thousands of product blurbs. (Writing product blurbs on architectural products was the most difficult writing job I ever had, but it paid the bills.)

In the last 20 years, everything has changed, and now it’s time for a new chapter. I’m not sure where I’m going, but I know it’s time for a seismic shift. I’ll still write blogs on old houses, and I’ll still turn my head when I drive past a pretty Sears House, and I’ll still sign a few books for interested enthusiasts, but the halcyon days of Sears, and Sears kit homes are in my rear-view mirror.

In a few short weeks, I will hit the road in my little red Prius C. If you’d like to meet me, and you’re somewhere between Suffolk, Virginia and St. Louis, Missouri, please leave a comment below.

You can hear Rose on a one-hour podcast (99% Invisible) here.

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Last week, I donated three boxes of Sears House ephemera and materials to the ODU Library (Norfolk, Virginia). This is the view from my windshield, as the archivist wheeled the cart from my car and into the library.

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In a few short weeks, Seabiscuit and I will be hitting the road.

In a few short weeks, Seabiscuit and I will be hitting the road.

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When my current stock of books is gone, there will be no more reprints.

When my current stock of books is gone, there will be no more reprints.

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There they go!

More than 3,000 35mm slides and a whole lot of history - going into ODU.

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Please leave a comment below!

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Road Trip!

January 12th, 2019 Sears Homes 6 comments

I’m thinking about hitting the road, and taking a long trip.

In the last few weeks, I’ve met so many wonderful people (all of whom are history lovers) and each and every one of those people have brought me such a blessing. Each encounter has lifted me up a bit, and helped speed my progress.

These days, I crave beauty and light.

Maybe I need to go looking for beauty and light, and see what I find. It might be great fun to go meet new people and see new sights and look at old kit homes, and just see what happens along the way.

Someone even mentioned, it might make for an interesting series of blogs: Seeking Sears Homes and Finding Peace.

I’ll be leaving my home in Suffolk, Virginia in a few weeks and heading south and then west. If you’ve got a beautiful old soul, a passion for history, a heart full of love for the weary wanderer, and an appreciation for us creative types and you’d like to meet The Author Formerly Known As Rose, please leave a comment below.

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Boo asks, will you come to my party? Maybe the question is, Can I come to YOUR party?

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Perhaps its time to take my love of houses on the road.

Perhaps it's time to take my love of houses on the road.

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My father

My father thought he was posing me for a picture, but I was actually assessing the thermal efficiency of these original wood windows. If only I'd been able to talk, I could have given them an ear full.

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These days, I crave beauty and light. Intensely.

These days, I crave beauty and light. Intensely.

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Built in 1907? It is NOT a Sears House!

December 28th, 2018 Sears Homes 4 comments

Why do all the wrong things go viral?

This 1907-built farm house (shown below) is being promoted online as a Sears Kit Home and there’s so much wrong with that. And that post - with an accompanying photo - has gone viral on Facebook.

Sears didn’t offer their first “Modern Homes” catalog until 1908. And there’s this: There’s nothing about this house that has any resemblance to anything offered by any kit home company.

Ugh.

NOT a Sears House!

NOT a Sears House, and yet this image is spreading far and wide via the internet.

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Dolly and I get exasperated sometimes...

Dolly reacts to the picture above.

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Last Chance to Buy Before Christmas - and Maybe Ever!

December 8th, 2018 Sears Homes 13 comments

“The Houses That Sears Built” was first published in April 2002, and since then, I’ve traveled to more than 25 states, for research, surveys and lectures. It’s been a fun run.

As of today, December 8, 2018, I’ve got 52 copies of this book on hand. After they’re sold, that’s it. There won’t be more reprints.

On the heels of a health-related issue, I had the opportunity to step back and take a long look at my life, and and it’s time for new adventures.

If you’d like to purchase a book, they can be purchased here or at Amazon.

An interesting aside: After the first of the year, I’m going to take a road trip. If you have a splendiferous kit home that you’d like to share, invite me over! ;)

Want to learn more about Sears Homes? Click here.

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Richard Warren Sears would not be pleased.


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Dolly and I get exasperated sometimes...

Sometimes, it feels like Dolly and I are soul mates.

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Picture

Not a lot of books left in my capacious garage!

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Another Picture

Seabiscuit and I are ready to hit the road.

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Want to learn more about Sears Homes? Click here.

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What’s Next?

November 26th, 2018 Sears Homes 6 comments

Teddy the Dog turned 10 in late October. I turned an age “greater than 10 years old” this summer. We’re both feeling like it’s time for a change, but not sure what that change is going to look like.

In late August, I had a health issue that consumed three months of my life. I have a new understanding of how every single priority in your life can be reshuffled in a moment when two doctors (in two separate opinions) tell you something scary.

I’m happy to report that now, three months later, it’s resolved - thanks be to God. Prayer brought about a dramatic change in my physical condition that left medical professionals scratching their heads and saying, “I don’t know what happened here and I can’t explain it, but you’re well now.”

Prayer also brought about a dramatic change in my spiritual and emotional state, and that’s the bigger miracle.

To God be the glory.

The spiritual transformation put the whole “Wayne Mess™” in razor sharp focus. Again, thanks to the infinite grace of God, I was gifted the spiritual energy to forgive him, and also given the spiritual stamina to forgive him every day.

He made his choices and he has the whole of eternity to ponder the consequences. That’s all between Wayne and his Creator now. I’m out of the loop.

Throughout our marriage and even after his death, I felt spiritually responsible for him. My “encounter with the divine” helped me see clearly that this is a devilish trick. As adults, we’re spiritually responsible for ourselves and for no one else.

I still think about him a lot, but these thoughts no longer eviscerate me. That’s the grace of God showing up in my heart, mind and soul. I’m sure of it.

And what’s next?

A dear friend suggested that I become a home inspector. I’m seriously considering that. I’m also contemplating a move out of this area (southeastern Virginia) and into the Midwest. There are just too many memories here in Hampton Roads.

This I know: It’s time for some new scenery and some “unexpected delights”!

For those of you who have prayerfully supported me, I am immensely grateful. Now, I hope to discern God’s wisdom in moving forward.

TTE

Teddy asked for a golf cart so that she can enjoy her "walkies" in a comfy ride.

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Id like to enjoy however many years of the remainder of my life.

I yearn to see more of the beauty in this world. I hope my next home has views like this. There's something about the quietude of nature that soothes my soul. (This photo was taken during an early morning bike ride in Northern Suffolk, about a mile from my home.)

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Fifteen

In 2002, I posed with my dear friend Donna at her bookstore in Carlinville. That was 16 years ago. Thus began a friendship that endured through three husbands (one of hers and two of mine), nine books, and a lot of good times. Donna passed on shortly before Thanksgiving, but the memory of her unconditional love will last forever.

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Want to read about Sears Homes? Click here.

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Teddy’s “Evening Constitutional”!

August 28th, 2018 Sears Homes 4 comments

A few people have asked me why I bought a golf cart. The truth is, it’s something I’ve always wanted, and more importantly, it’s something that Teddy wants and needs.

Her arthritis is slowing her down quite a bit these days. On our walkies, she’s good for about a 1/4 mile and then she wants to go home. There have been times when she simply sits down in the grass, and then I have to wait with her, or call a friend to come get us.

It seemed like a golf cart might be just the thing. And it is.

Now she rides in style around our neighborhood, snuggled up next to me with her nose in the air, taking in all the unique smells on our drive - from the 500-acre nursery to the horse farm down the road and out to the 200-acre cotton field just around the corner. We drive out to the marina at the western edge of the neighborhood and sometimes we just watch the sun set over the Nansemond River.

In a few short nights, it seems as though it’s become her favorite part of the day. As soon as I reach for the keys, she gets quite excited as if to say, “oh boy, let’s GO!”

This little red electric cart is a way for Teddy to enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of her world, even when her little legs won’t carry her as far as they once did.

Tonight, Teddy and I were driving around on a pleasant summer evening, she leaned against me and nuzzled me as if to say, “Thanks, Mom.”

In the last two years, we’ve been through hell and we’re both ready for a little ease and quiet.

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FTR

Teddy on Tuesday evening, ready for her evening ride.

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To read about Sears Homes, click here.

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An Aladdin “Colonial” in Lynchburg!

July 11th, 2018 Sears Homes 9 comments

Years ago, I did a survey of kit homes in Lynchburg but apparently, I missed a couple.

Earlier this week, I was in Lynchburg for other reasons, and on my way to an appointment, I made a wrong turn and stumbled upon two beautiful Aladdin kit homes, literally across the street from each other.

The houses are on Brevard Street, and prior to yesterday’s “excursion,” I’d never been through that neighborhood.

While Sears Kit Homes are more well known, Aladdin was actually a bigger company. Sears started selling kit homes in 1908, but Aladdin began two years prior. Sears was out of it in 1940, but Aladdin remained in the kit-home business until 1981. As a newly married woman, I remember studying the pages of the 1978 Aladdin catalog, dreaming of building my own home with my handy husband.

These kits came by boxcar (usually) in 12,000-piece kits, and the instruction books were more than 70 pages long. Sears promised that a “man of average abilities” could have the house completed within 90 days.

To learn more about how to identify kit homes, click here.

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1916

The Aladdin Colonial, as seen in the 1916 catalog.

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FFF

Located on Brevard Street, this house has been through a lot of insensitive remodeling, but it's still standing. I don wonder who thought it'd be a good idea to remove the porches.

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ffffsss

And just on the other side of the street is this Aladdin Pomona (complete with a 1980s trash can in the front yard). The house is in wonderful condition, but I was heartsick to see that the original windows - with diamond muntins - were tossed out at some point. What a pity.

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The Pomona, as seen in the 1919 Aladdin Homes catalog. Those windows are what make the house.

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Crying

Here's an Aladdin Colonial in Kinston, NC.

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Roanoke

Roanoke Rapids, NC is filled with Aladdin Homes, from the simple to the grand. This Colonial retains that distinctive half-round front porch.

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Another view of the Aladdin Colonial.

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Learn more about Aladdin here.

Learn more about what I’ve survived here.

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Multitudinous Blessings

July 5th, 2018 Sears Homes 12 comments

It’s amazing how something as pedestrian as an old-house website can turn out to be such a catalyst for multitudinous blessings.

Through this website (and its accompanying page on Facebook), I have met so many people. With few exceptions, old house people are the finest people around.

Two years ago, after the Bad Thing, I decided to shut down this website - as soon as I had the emotional wherewithal to do so. I put my Sears House ephemera in cardboard boxes and told my friend to give all of it to the local college library. I was done. I never wanted to see another Sears House again. Ever.

Fortunately, my friend didn’t listen to me, and stashed the boxes in a storage unit.

More than a year later, I asked him what became of all my catalogs. I couldn’t find them in my rental house, and I had no memory of telling him to dispose of the collection. He said, “You told me to get rid of them.”

With more than a little trepidation, I asked, “Did you?”

He said, “No, I kept them. They’re in storage.”

In short order, he retrieved them from a nearby storage unit, and my ephemera and I were re-united.

That’s something for which I’m also very grateful.

Rediscovering those almost lost catalogs stirred something in me, and gently pulled me back toward my first love: Old houses.

And through writing blogs on a host of topics (including grief and pain), I was surprised (and delighted) to find that I felt nurtured and buoyed by the kind words of long-time readers. I still re-read those supportive comments again and again and again.

As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

When visitors to this site leave comments, openly sharing their own stories of tragedy and loss, I feel so very comforted. I feel less alone in my tragedy and pain. I feel less alone in the world. It’s as though those people - people struggling under the heavy weight of their own pain and suffering - have opened up the circle around their heart and invited me in. It’s a sacred sharing, and I treasure every insight, every kind word, and every loving thought.

I will always remember how that made me feel, so thank you for that.

And if you’ve been a faithful reader of this blog but have never left a comment, I hope you’ll do so now. And if you’re one of my faithful commenters, I hope you’ll leave a comment today!

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Learn how to identify Sears Homes by clicking here.

Read about one of my favorite Sears Homes in Hampton Roads here.

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Fjf

My blog passed a milestone recently with 2.5 million visitors.

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Yesterday, I celebrated my 59th birthday with a group of faithful, loving and supportive friends. It truly was one of the loveliest events in my lifetime. Despite having such a wonderful day, I suffered from horrible nightmares last night (July 5th). By 6:00 am this morning, I was dressed and on my bike, pedaling as fast as I could to stave off the anxiety. I'm happy to say that it worked. On the ride home, I saw this image and captured it with my fancy phone. This is less than one mile from my home in a suburban area in Suffolk.

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Learn how to identify Sears Homes by clicking here.

Read about one of my favorite Sears Homes in Hampton Roads here.

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And Her Name is C-Biscuit…

June 2nd, 2018 Sears Homes 5 comments

In the last few months, I have really struggled to sort out my thoughts and figure out what makes me happy. More than a year ago, I decided that I was going to live on a five-acre horse farm and keep a couple horses.

And then I spent some time with a 50-something-year-old woman who had three horses. I soon realized that this was a part-time job, and it was an expensive part-time job. Reluctantly, I decided to buy a few stuffed horses and call it a day.

More recently, I decided that I would like to have a little Prius C, which is “the baby Prius.” I’ve named her “C-Biscuit.”

She’s tiny, adorable, amazingly comfortable and also practical. Best of all, she sips gas, obtaining 55-65 mpg.

A few times, I have surpassed 70 mpg. C-Biscuit is a hybrid, powered by both an ICE (internal combustion engine) and battery power. The engine has a mere 66 horsepower, and the electric side provides an additional 33 horsies, for a total of 99 horsepower. It does 0-60 in 12 seconds.

It’s efficient. It’s not fast.

The Prius C is known as the “Aqua” in Japan, and has consistently been one of the best selling cars in that country. In the United States, sales have not been as strong. Rumors abound that 2018 will be the last year for the Prius C in America, but with gas prices creeping back up, maybe Toyota will revisit that decision.

Sometimes, it’s hard to really know why something makes us happy. Perhaps it’s enough to find that silly little thing - even a slightly used red hatchback - and just grab onto it and enjoy the smiles per gallon.

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C-Biscuit (my Prius C) was purchased used in North Carolina, where they dont require front plates.

C-Biscuit (my Prius C) was purchased used in North Carolina, where they don't require front plates. I thought I heard a little "yelp" when I drilled holes into C-Biscuit's front bumper (for the Virginia license plates).

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Its adorable both coming and going.

It's adorable both coming and going. My mother's last car (purchased shortly before her death) was a little red station wagon, very similar to this car. There was something about this car that really touched my heart. Every time I look at this car, I smile. It reminds me of my first car, too. And that's a very happy memory.

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A million years ago, in a galaxy far away...

A million years ago, in a galaxy far away...My first car was a 1974 Super Beetle with a 1600cc engine. It was red on the inside and black on the outside, the inverse of C-Biscuit. The Super Beetle ("Ludwig") had a bigger engine than the Prius C. And yes, that's me. I was 17-year-old, 5'9" and weighed 124 pounds and worried constantly about my weight!

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Prius

This Prius C does 0-60 in 12 seconds.

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And it gets super gas mileage!

And it gets super gas mileage!

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In fact, I was so besotted with C-Biscuit that I bought a diminiutive version.

In fact, I was so besotted with "C-Biscuit" that I bought a diminutive version for my desk.

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And heres a picture of a Sears Modern Home (#124) in Wisconsin, just so I can say that I wrote about Sears Homes today.

And here's a picture of a Sears Modern Home (#124) in Wisconsin, just so I can say that I wrote about Sears Homes today. Either I have stayed up way too late this evening, or there's something seriously wrong with this picture. LOL. I have a feeling I made a booboo of some sort here. Look toward the bottom of the picture. Rut roe.

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To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

Interested in Penniman? Click here!

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