Friday, November 23, 2012
Camden Corners Epilogue - Part One
Camden Corners Chronicle, January 3, 1973. Renovations on the old Merryweather Building begin today. Local gals, Tracy Robinson and Holly Mackenzie are quite the entrepreneurs these days. “That old building has been in existence here in Camden Corners for close to 200 years. Holly and I couldn't bear to have it torn down and replaced with a Motel 7. We know it will require a lot of work but we hope to bring it back to its original splendor. Camden Corners has become a very popular vacation spot all year round. Folks from all over the area come to Pine Hills for skiing in the winter. The vineyards rival California for their wine products. Autumn brings out the leaf peepers and of course in the summer we have the finest swimming and water sports around. Holly and I have grand plans for The Merryweather. We hope to be up and running by the first day of summer, June 21st.”
Good luck and happy sanding, ladies.
“Tracy, we made the morning newspaper. I get the feeling Steve Burke has little faith in our ability to pull off The Merryweather transformation.”
“Steve Burke is not happy because you turned down his marriage proposal to concentrate on our project. I think he'd like to see the whole building collapse and the soon the better.”
“I don't know why every Burke out there thinks of nothing but adding to the population. Aren't there enough Burkes and Mackenzies in this little town already? I do love Steve, but this renovation is important to me and if he can't understand that, I don't see any future for us.”
“Don't be so hasty Holly. Steve is looking out for both our interests. He is afraid we have bitten off more than we can chew. Who knows, maybe he's right. Some of the top renovation experts told us we were taking a foolish chance.”
“Do you want to back out, Tracy, we have about five minutes until we sign the papers?”
“Not on your life.”
Two hours later the papers were signed. Tracy Robinson and Holly Mackenzie and the Camden Corners Savings and Loan were the proud owners of what would be known as The Merryweather.
Cyrus Merryweather built the house for his bride. He wanted the largest home at the highest point in Camden Corners. Cyrus and his wife had two children. Millicent and Neville. Millicent loved the old house and even though her first husband tried to persuade her to leave the albatross she would not have any part of it. After Mr. Stout's death, the money finally did run out and she was forced to turn the mansion into an antique store and boarding house. There she lived the remainder of her days surrounded by the love of friends and family. Neville agreed to a marriage his father arranged and it wasn't until years later, discovered his lost love, Helene and the son he never knew he had.
The house changed hands several times. The original antique shop expanded on its original site and there was no reason to continue operating out of the Merryweather mansion. The house was in disrepair at the present time but was structurally sound.
“Here we are, Holly. It's all ours. Where do we start?”
“Let's check out the attic. I was thinking we could use that top floor for a spa and gym. I remember there were several rooms adjacent to the center room on that floor.”
“Can you believe the shape of this old elevator? I don't think I trust it. That is one thing we will definitely be replacing. Hope the stairs are in better shape.”
The girls entered the third floor. It was dark and the floor creaked. “I don't see any light switches Tracy, do you suppose they used oil lamps up here?” Holly turned her flashlight to the highest beam.
“Look at all this stuff. I don't think any of it has ever been used. We'll get some of the boys from the high school to help us move it all out of here.”
“Come look at this Tracy. It's an old trunk. It looks like it has been shoved back in this corner. I can't budge it. Do we dare look inside? Maybe there is a dead body in there.” Holly laughed.
“Just what we need. Let's both try to pull it. It's been wedged tightly back here.”
“Anybody home? What are you girls doing up here? It's spooky.” said Heather Crowley.
“Hi Heather, come help us pull this old trunk out.”
“What's in there, a dead body?”
“You girls are hilarious. One – two - three - pull. I think it's loosening up. It must be stuck on the eaves. What we need is a crowbar.”
“Ask and ye shall receive.”
“Hey Steve, what are you doing here? I thought you weren't speaking to me.”
“I'm not, I'm speaking to Tracy and Heather. You said you needed a crowbar. I just happened to have one.”
“How did you know?”
“I just figured there were probably a bunch of crates up here and knowing how nosy you two are, I figured this would come in handy.”
“Be careful. Don't break the trunk. It may be valuable.”
“Old is not necessarily valuable as I have been telling you, Holly.”
“I thought you weren't speaking to me.”
“I'm not. That is really stuck in there. Let me get it at another angle. I think it's coming out now although it might take part of the roof with it.”
“You'd love that wouldn't you?”
“Will you two stop your bickering. Let's see what we have here.”
Steve slowly opened the trunk and let out a scream. He slammed the lid down. “It's a bloody hand.” He hid his own hand in the sleeve of his jacket.
“Steve, knock it off. Open the trunk.”
“Sorry, just a bunch of books and junk.”
“What kind of newspaper man are you? These are journals. Look at this one, it's dated 1903 and it has Nettie Crowley's name on it. Heather, wasn't she your great great grandmother?”
“Great great great grandmother. She was pretty old when she adopted my great great grandmother. My sister, Annette was named after her. Look she has filled in every page. Listen to this: I wonder if I'm being a foolish old woman. Here I am on the train headed for a town I've never even visited before. This is great.” Heather leafed through page after page. She talks about meeting Oscar. Oh my goodness. She fell for him the minute she saw him. I have to show this to my mother. Nettie and Oscar adopted my great great grandmother and her twin sister, Aunt Hattie.
“There's one written by Rosa Marino. This one belonged to Millie Harvey, that was my aunt's second husband's name. Another by Caroline Bentley. Oh my goodness. These are all dated 1903 through 1925. There are dozens of them in here. We are going to have to get in touch with every one of their descendants. We'll have a reading party.”
Tracy's excitement was catching. Even Steve was looking through the books.
“I knew I'd find at least one Burke in here and there are three. I knew my great great grandfather Randy was involved in the first printing of the newspaper. Now I will be able to read all about it.
“Look at this, on the bottom all wrapped in brown paper. They are photographs. They were taken by Tony Marino. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his journalistic work in the 2nd World War. These are photos of the people of Camden Corners. They are marked on the back. Nettie and Oscar Crowley. What a handsome couple they were. You can just see the twinkle in his eye. The photos are priceless. We should get everything downstairs. They are too fragile to be rummaging through them in the shadows,” said Tracy.
They all helped to carry the heavy trunk down the narrow staircase. The girls had planned to spend the day cleaning and getting rid of junk in the building but finding the trunk had made them change their plans.
“Lets get on the phone and call everyone who has an ancestor who we can find a journal for. We'll order a pizza and make a party of it.”
They all got on the phone immediately. Everyone was anxious to see what the girls had found and changed their plans if they had any. At 5:00 folks began arriving on their way home from work. The older folks joined them.
“I would love to have copies of these photographs to hang in the vestibule,” said Holly. “We could also have display cases with the journals opened up to specific dates.”
“I'm sure we all have a box or two of mementos from that era in our attics. Train tickets, programs from a dance, things like that. Wouldn't that be nice in those cases?”
Everyone found a journal that had been written by their own family member. You could hear a pin drop in the old Merryweather building as the reading began.