Italian Melt/ Provolone Cheese, fresh Mozz, Onion, Salami, Capicola, Roasted Red Pepper
It was the middle of the day, but I was back at the Penny. It’s easier to find a place to sit and easier to think there during the day rather than in the evening, but it’s also easier to slip into the warm clutches of alcoholism and public drunkenness if one starts tossing drinks down in the afternoon rather than after five PM, which has always been my standard personal rule. I’m limiting myself to one drink per session at the bar from now on, at least when I’m there before five.
I had lots of notes to go over. I’ve written in earlier posts some of the interesting history of my old house, which is known as the Daisy Lynch house. How the two center rooms were originally the two rooms of the Ashburn School, located just a block from my house. Over the last 170 years the rest of the house – 6 rooms downstairs and four rooms upstairs – have been added on room by room. So, sometime in the early 1850s, the two-room schoolhouse was dragged one block north over what would have then been empty land to my lot. This had to have been done with a team of horses or mules and must have been difficult.
The Ashburn’s private residence still stands, part of the Ashburn School property, which is an historic landmark complete with public programs and an operating officer and board of trustees. The CEO of the Ashburn School Trust is Ted Jackson. I interviewed him today, and Ted is not a fan of the legend about the original Ashburn Schoolhouse now residing in the interior of my house. He says it’s just that, a legend, and has never been proven.
I can think of a few reasons he’s so adamant about this. If his schoolhouse is in my house, he’s going to have to change some of his history, which he doesn’t want to do, and maybe he’s worried that I’ll claim the schoolhouse, put a sign up outside my home declaring it part of the original school and begin charging admission, leading tours and giving lectures. Not that I have any interest in doing that.
When he was selling the house, the last owner made a video, showing his research into the Ashburn Schoolhouse controversy, pretty much proving that it’s just what everyone except Ted thinks is true. I’ll put a link up to that video at the end of this post.
Back at the Penny, Janet brought me my drink. I’m still going easy on Janet vis-à-vis making her climb to the top shelf to fumble down a bottle (see last post), so I ordered a Crown Royal, which is on my list. This is a Canadian blended whiskey that we thought was pretty second rate even when I was young. Its singular claim to fame was and is that it came in a crown-shaped bottle nestled in a little blue velvet bag with a gold-colored drawstring. I guess the manufacturers thought the packaging would instill some elegance to the whiskey; it doesn’t, though something has kept this particularly ordinary whiskey in the marketplace for a lot of years. It’s bland and undistinguished, but it’s one more drink to be crossed off my 69.
After I left my interview with Ted, (he didn’t kick me out, but he made it clear he had better things to do), I walked around the grounds and the gardens of the Ashburn property. That’s where I met Betty.
I saw her in the garden of the School hacking away at a giant wisteria vine. She’s old, (Betty, not the vine) but vigorous, wielding pruners with savage precision. I introduced myself and told her I lived in the house that had swallowed the original two-room schoolhouse. I asked her if she thought that was true. She scoffed and said everyone in town knew it was true. She spoke as if she’d been there to witness the event. I asked why Ted, a few yards away ruling his fiefdom from his office in the house, didn’t believe it. She said she had no idea, put the pruners down and gave me a short tour of the garden, explaining that she didn’t really work for the school but had just taken to keeping the garden in good shape years ago so everyone, probably even Ted, just assumed she belonged there. I asked her some more questions about my house but she made it clear she had wisteria to prune.
“Ask Rafe,” she said, waving a hand in the general direction of the back of the garden where the original outhouse still stood. There was no one back there that I could see.
“He’s around somewhere, or if not, he’ll be back soon enough. He works here the way I work here. Off the books.” With that, she went back to her trimming, and I headed down the hill to the Lead Penny. And my notebook.
And now I’m back home writing this up so I can post it. In my eleventh post I said three possibilities could account for my recent unusual experiences. One, I’m mentally unbalanced and have been having visions; two, I’m a drunk and have been having hallucinations; three, it’s all happening just as I’m reporting.
Here’s a thought: I can test the drunkenness theory by simply not having anything to drink for a few days, then get up in the middle of the night and see what happens downstairs. This means putting my 69 drinks quest on hold, but that’s a small price to pay to prove to myself that it’s drink that is or is not fueling the visions/hallucinations. But here’s the problem.
If I don’t drink, and I still see the weirdness, that means I’m crazy. Because it can’t be the third possibility. Can it?
Here’s the link to the short video about the Daisy Lynch house. The owner at the time, Craig Perrin, was and is a good guy who patiently answers my email questions about the house. In the video you can see a bit of the crawlspace. You will note they refer to the school as the Burwell School. I call it the Ashburn School.