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THE HOUSE IN CHATTANOOGA
It would perhaps not be entirely out of order to devote a paragraph or two to the old homestead in Chattanooga. All of you have seen it in your childhood and some of you have seen it since; I have spoken so many times about it that I may have stimulated more curiosity than I think.
It was built in 1886, on a lot seventy-five feet wide and around one hundred and fifty deep. The front yard consisted of terraces, steps, and slope to such extent that the ground floor was on a level with the house-tops across the street. This gave an unobstructed view from the veranda, looking over the city of Chattanooga. While Chattanooga, of itself, bore no resemblance to the Hackensack Valley, the general effect of the view at night was strikingly similar to the one over the meadows and surrounding villages from our home in Hasbrouck Heights.
Exclusive of the somewhat expansive halls on both floors, there were only eight rooms in the house as originally built. In 1889, an extension was constructed, adding two more halls and about four more rooms. The original part was solid brick and the new part brick veneer.
It wasn't a mansion, in any sense of the word, but the first floor rooms of the older part had the most beautifully finished woodwork that I have ever seen. There were four fire-places on this floor and the four mantles were cherry, with the most wonderful finish imaginable. They have never been revarnished in nearly sixty years, yet there wasn't a mar, a scratch, or a hair line crack anywhere, when I last saw them. The one in the dining room was finished in mahogany red; it was neither large nor ornate but the graceful design and unbelievable finish resulted in a piece of work that fairly brings tears to your eyes to look at it, it was so wonderfully beautiful. How this wood-work and finish came into existence is worthy of being recorded.
In the first place, Father being in the lumber and building material business, was able to select the very cream of the available wood for the trim. About the time all was in place, the foreman of the finishing department of the furniture factory went on a drunk (spree in those days) and Mr. Loomis very unsympathetically fired him. Father got a hold of the scamp, sobered him up and put him to work finishing the wood-work of the new house. The instructions were that nobody cared what it cost and no one was going to hurry him but the wood work finish must be nearly perfect as it was humanly possible to get it. Apparently the old drunk appreciated the treatment, for he went to work soberly and diligently and put into his job all of the gratitude and price of craft that he was able to muster. The poor fellow has been resting in his grave these fifty years, I have no doubt, but the finish he put on that trimming lives on, a monument to his skill and appreciation and to my father's tolerance of other people's frailties.
When we moved there in 1886, there were a lot of little saplings set out in the front yard. We used to joke Father about them. Now the house stands back in a grove of magnificent elms - regular wine-glass type. Father grew inordinately proud of them and never allowed anyone except the Davy Tree Surgeon people to touch them.
The place, to me, is full of memories: I wish they were more tender.
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