I walked slowly up the creaking stairs that opened into a junk filled area, walls covered with black linoleum, white lines crisscrossing it to give the idea of tiles, even older linoleum covering the floors in what at one time would have passed for a kitchen. It was not lost on me that something bigger than myself had caused me to purchase the old decrepit general store building. Of course one of the reasons for that nagging feeling was that I was the third Hunt to own it in almost 200 years. I continued my search, going through the doorway into an even more dilapidated area that would have served the store’s owners as a dining room. Here and in the living room beyond, horse hair plaster had fallen from the ceilings and walls onto broken chairs, picture frames, and other dusty pieces of old furniture. As I continued into the bowels of the apartment, an eerie almost hollow sound accompanied me giving an unworldy feeling of being watched. I continued my trek through the other rooms quickly, winding through the jetsam of lamps. mirrors, and other assorted junk-or treasures-if you are into items of another era.
Going downstairs I returned to the relativity safe feel of the general store-now antique shop. Here the shelves that originally held the staples of existence, now held present day antiques that would probably have graced these shelves originally as new. Clutter was everywhere giving the feeling that you could never see everything contained within.
I still couldn’t believe the building and all that was inside was mine. The uncomfortable feeling I had experienced upstairs made me wonder if I were just experiencing the enormity of the project that lay ahead of me. After all, the two story back half of the building was pulling away from the main building, the support posts had rotted in the cellar causing people who entered the building to walk down hill, and of course there was the lack of electricity up stairs, not to mention the daylight one could see looking up through the ceiling, through the rafters, and out through the holes in the shingles to the blue sky above. Even with the enormity of the work at hand my only real concern was the lack of money to take care of the numerous projects, since I had barely enough money for the down payment on the building. Along with the angst, I suddenly felt a sense of calm envelope me. I believe that was when I first met Sadie.
Have you ever seen a building on the verge of falling down and wondered about it in its prime, and about the people who lived with-in it? I certainly have, but nothing could have prepared me for what I have experienced with just such a building.
There was a girl named Sadie. Almost her whole life had been spent within the confines of the local general store; first her father owned it, then she and her husband ran it, and later after she sold it, when she and her mother had to take the building back from a man named Hunt. By this time the building was almost falling down. Sadie and her mother could no longer live in what had once been the store’s airy apartment, but had to survive living in the repulsive lean-to section of the building which had cement floors and little heat, subsisting on what little bread, candy and cigarettes they could sell in an area they portioned in the front to serve as their store.
I know there are those who will discount what I’m about to relate, but those who know me, have assisted me, or have watched the progress of bringing the old general store back to life, believe as I do that the spirit I call Sadie has orchestrated the saving of her home.
That day as I surveyed the downstairs I decided that along with securing the support beam in the cellar I needed to do something to brighten the walls of the main sales floor which sported a deep red paisley wall paper that seemed to suck every bit of light from the room. Knowing how expensive wall paper was, I was resigned to just painting the walls. The next day on my way to an appointment in another town, a sign was being hung as I drove by; wall paper a dollar a roll. Feeling that there certainly wouldn’t be anything for a building of that vintage, I entered finding the perfect paper; a subtle beige stripe, and then found a border that blended perfectly, all for a dollar a roll.
The most important project of supporting the floor still loomed in front of me. For this I contacted a friend who was a cement contractor. We agreed that it was going to take some time to bring the floor up the seven inches that it had sagged, planning on jacking it up a quarter turn every few days. On the appointed day he in the cellar with a jack and me on the ground floor to measure the progress, he made the first quarter turn. The building shook and groaned but the floor moved perceptively. In my excitement I asked him to raise the jack a bit more. Again, with the groaning of the building the floor moved a bit more. We were so caught up in the moment that neither of us could stop. Now every turn I would call on him to make another turn until we had brought the floor up the seven inches it had sagged.
Something other than myself was working with me to restore the building since I had no more money than when I had begun; I had only to think what needed to be done next and things continued to be provided. Soon the building started to reveal what it had been. The apartment again took shape with a kitchen and a bathroom, the living room floor turned out to be solid cherry. Now the apartment was again the center of family gatherings as we celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas, even baby showers within it.
Years had gone by and I decided to sell the building. As I worked on furniture a woman came into the store and told me that she and her mother had frequented the store years before. As she admired the changes, I found that she was a newspaper editor. She agreed to do a story on the building and the spirit that I call Sadie.
The day the article came out a couple came by interested in purchasing the building. The sale of the building hinged on a wall in the lean-to section being repaired. Again materials seemed to appear as if by magic, two days later the wall was repaired.
After the building sold I stayed away from it, happy that it would continue to be a fixture in our community. Unfortunately the couple who bought it met with hard times and the building came back to me. Again I had to redo parts of the building and again the things I needed appeared as I needed them. Two years later I again sold the building this time I held only a small second mortgage so when the new owner called and told me that he could not continue to purchase the building because of our recession I offered to help him sell the building. It was clear to me that Sadie wanted me back. I moved into the storefront section he was not using and merchandise like church pews and trunks began appearing to fill it. Unfortunately the economy stymied even Sadie’s efforts to sell the building and the mortgage company took the building back. One would think that is where my story ends but again Sadie persevered. The mortgage company was located fourteen hundred miles away so when I called and explained that the building was a icon in our community and needed to have someone to watch over the it the mortgage company agreed to allow me to continue to take care of the building.
Today as Sadie waits for the person who will care for her building things still appear as I need them to keep the building in repair. You say you don’t believe in spirits? Well maybe the picture of the store’s display window will help you to believe — Sadie supplied it.