Some of our friends have yet to recognize that we’ve forsaken our old Gillette address and joined the poor people of Pottersville. We bought a barn.
Many moons have waned since The Scarlet Cockerel Press was dismantled at Gillette and hauled over the hills to Pottersville. Many suns have risen… and many muscles still moan!
With typecases and removable press parts stored in a rented cellar, and with press frame half a mile distant in our barn-to-be-renovated, any flicker of AJ activity was effectively smothered. Our attention focused on blueprints and the snail-like activity of sundry ex-garbage-collectors who had promoted themselves to the status of “carpenter”-builders.
That winter of ‘59 the press frame was shoved around the former haymow area while powder room, living room, dining room, and kitchen walls took shape. Trundled below, it spent the summer of ‘60 in the garage; by this past winter it had progressed as far as a corner of The Roost – recreation room-printshop-to-be – still disassembled.
Still scattered around an unfloored, uninsulated “attic” are the hundred typecases and sundries; other printing impedimenta yet awaits time for removal from stowage containers in other odd corners.
With shudders, now, we recall: laying brick for the front porch, painting trim until freezing nights, caulking, insulating pipes that shouldn’t have frozen, staining louvered doors, fitting and hanging shutters, nailing up knotty cedar panelling, making kitchen cabinet doors, wallpapering for a Thanksgiving dinner that never was; weeks of fighting out a settlement with “builder” and his lawyer over servicing-rendered and improper services and materials received or not received; running out of fuel oil from a full 1000 gallon tank, busting rock for stone to fill thawing driveway ruts… wheelbarrow load after load of field stone picked up to floor the drive… the Day we burned the old Barn door (and backyard brush heap)… the Day I busted up the Big (4 foot) Rock out front… the Night we moved the Sandpile (all seven tons of it); days of hacking honeysuckle from stone walls and fences, and of grubbing ubiquitous honeysuckle roots from planting beds… and, after weeks of leveling all the debris and bulldozing and raking, planting the first shrubs and seed for a small lawn!
We hadn’t intended establishing a Pottersville Poorhouse, but the backhouse-builder we hired and depended on effectively picked our pockets, herding us into a life of slavery in this Pottersville Hilton.
So – if you ever decide to remodel a big old oak-beamed barn into living quarters… DON’T!
This 132nd issue of Weaker Moments was also done the hard way: handset in our latest indulgence (a font of 12 small Optima) at Pottersville; hauled the 36 miles to Cranford, page by page, and printed on Alf’s venerable but operable 7×11 Gordon. From Ralph Babcock, Pottersville, N.J. 6 June ‘61