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This Old Crack House

From log house to farmhouse. Farmhouse to townhouse. Townhouse to apartment house. Apartment house to crack house. Crack house to our house. Our house to our home.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Helen's House

Let me tell you about Helen's House. We bought Helen's House in October 2013. Helen was our neighbor. She was born in 1921. Her mother, Mary Farrenkopf  had tuberculosis at a young age so Helen lived with her aunt and uncle after the age of 4 and her mother eventually died in 1926 aged 31. She had two older brothers that were raised in her father's farm. Her aunt and uncle adopted her as their own daughter and raised her in the City. Here is her mother's obituary.

Helen lived across the alley from us and used to tell me stories about Leonard and Susan Volkenand and how their parrot used to shout obscenities at her from the side porch when she was a little girl. The parrot died in 1936. Helen asked me if we would buy her house in August 2013 because she needed to move herself into a retirement home since she could no longer navigate the stairs in her house and she had fallen down them which sent her to the hospital for a while. Helen had lived in the house for 89 years. The place was a step back in time. The woodwork was original from 1900. The house was built by Leonard Volkenand for his wife and daughter to live in. In 1906 they bought our house from their father's estate and lived there until 1955. Leonard was struck by a car in 1937 in front of the fire station across the main street in front of our house. Susan sold the house in 1955 to move to a smaller house. In Helen's house the wallpaper was put up in 1940. The kitchen was "updated" in 1960 and there were things in the attic that had been there since 1915. The newspapers in the drawers were from the 1930s. Canning jars filled with cherries and beans line shelves in the basement but are labelled with dates from 1939.
We plan to turn Helen's House into an Air BnB or Home away from Home rental. It is effectively a guest house at the moment but I need to get the water service line replaced because there is no water pressure. We are in the process of furnishing the place as well. We want to offer people a unique experience. Life in a 1940s and earlier environment. We bought the vacant lot next door to Helen's house and I am turning it into a Victory garden. I should add that Helen worked as a civilian at Wright Patterson Air force Base from 1940 to 1970 and began her career when the Air Force was the U. S. Army Air Corps. during WWII. Helen was no one special in the eyes of the world. She was a regular person with regular person stories. Which makes her all the more interesting.
Helen made me her power of attorney for her while she was alive and the executor of her estate when she died. She had outlived her brothers and most of her friends. She figured that the former mayor of Dayton would be a good choice because he would be under the watchful eye of the media. Helen died on March 24th after a fall on Christmas Eve 2014. I visited her every week in the hospital. She was sharp and alert until the end. The stenosis from her last fall deprived her of her muscles but never took her mind. So here is Helen. Aged around 18, 24 and 90. She never married.  Supposedly the war took care of that. She never had a car. She never flew in an airplane and she never had children or a mortgage. She also never threw anything away!

I am now working on Helen's House. It is not the major undertaking that "This Old Crack House" was but is worthy of some posts. Stay tuned. There is more to come.


At 5/20/2015 4:46 AM, Blogger Jan Marie said...

She looks pretty damn good for 90.

I'm looking forward to more posts about her home.


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