Yesterday a friend stopped at the house and brought someone from the community to see the changes. It was great to talk with them and walk through the house. Our new visitor had seen the house before and even attended the auction at which we bought the house. She related a story of how she bought her first "Antique" on layaway as a young girl. It was a table that she spotted at a store in Shelbina, but like most of us, she did not have enough money at that moment. The store owner let her purchase the table "on time" and said that the old table had ties to "The Benjamin House". She still has the table all these years later and still has a fondness for the old mansion on South Shelby Street. It reminded me of my first "credit" purchase. I was 11 years old when my best friend, Gary, and I saw pathways in a local drainage ditch. We somehow knew that muskrats had made the trails, and like so many young boys, we wanted to catch them. The small local feed store sold traps and the owner often bought fur. We had seen muskrats, mink, raccoons, and other fur on the floor of his shop as he bought them. When we told him of our discovery, he offered to advance us 6 traps and we could pay them off with our fur. We were elated and full of optimism with our new grown up status as "trappers". This is probably how our new friend felt when she brought home her first "antique".
This reflection of youthful optimism reminds me of how so many people loose their joy with age and difficult experiences. I sometimes find myself talking about property taxes, insurance expense, or fix-it problems and remember that everyone in Shelbina has the same or similar difficulties. Perhaps that is why we admire an old house that has survived so many hardships and injuries. It is our hope that the Benjamin House can remain a key landmark for Shelby County. That hope depends on our enthusiasm, and that of the community. We have seen that the end can come suddenly, but the years of neglect predict the demise. I always remember the poem line that goes, "All the king's horses and all the king's men; couldn't put Humpty back together again".
My "Restorer of the Year" is Carol Schofield! What a great lady and what a great attitude through the lonely hours at her Jewett House restoration project. Now dealing with health issues, Carol is still my role model. Like her, we need to remember our youthful enthusiasm for the future.
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