There’s a house I drive by several times a week that has, until just a few days ago, been something of a mystery. The place looks to be abandoned, with a lot of overgrown shrubs and weeds, crumbling rock walls, cracked windows, and a few cars parked out front (a relatively recent BMW and an old Chevy Chevelle).
The house is what you’d call a rambler, though not of the typical New England variety. It’s got a main building with a bunch of oddly-shaped attachments. A modular house of sorts, built long before the word “modular” was ever used in the context of home construction. Given our country location, I’m sure this place was considered “modern” back when it was new.
Anyway, it’s pretty obvious that nobody has lived here in quite a while. Every time I drive by, I can’t help but wonder what the story is.
This being New England, we’re used to the clichés about leafy main streets and beautiful old white Colonial homes, but we all know that just around the corner is a house that’s best described as having a “white trash” look — with a Mary in a bathtub on the front lawn and an old pickup truck embedded in the side yard, mowed around for years.
Heading into town, about five miles away from the mystery locale, is such a place. This house is in some ways even more intriguing. There are always at least five cars parked out front. Beyond the parking area, there are seven or eight outbuildings in various states of disrepair. There’s a space of about 50 feet separating these structures from the road, with a fence set right in front of the buildings. Between the fence and the road is a large (and constantly changing) collection of…stuff — old food trucks, delivery vans, snowmobiles, and trailers. Once there was a trailer that had a bunch of those old folding cafeteria tables. I mean, who wants that? More important, what’s all of this stuff for?
Well, I finally got around to asking my neighbor about this. Turns out that the guy is a pack rat of sorts, which explains all of the stuff. I mentioned that I noticed that some of the outbuildings had been recently repaired, and that the area between them had been cleaned up. It looked to me like they were getting reading to sell some things, maybe using the buildings as little stores. Nope. The guy just likes to collect things. Hasn’t sold anything in years. Oh, and he rents out rooms in his house, which explains all of the cars.
Great, one mystery solved … until my neighbor goes on to mention the abandoned “modern” house, which is apparently the pack rat’s “annex,” where he used to live until he moved into town. Now, I still don’t really know the entire story, and maybe its better that I don’t. A little mystery keeps things interesting.