After we buried my dad I received a small inheritance, and that’s when things started really happening around here on this building.
I built the scaffolding right in the middle of the barn, the whole way up to get inside the cupola, way up on top, started doin’ all the insulation and wiring in the high, high ceiling. I was up here by myself, and it was strange, because it seemed like since forever, in the summertime, my dad was always here. It was a funny, odd, lonely kind of deal because everywhere I turned, it seemed like my dad shoulda been there.
That summer I was here by myself; there wasn’t any other relative at the farm. So I just worked and worked and worked. There were many nights spent on the scaffolding with a case of Rolling Rock and lots of loud rock ‘n’ roll music. I’d fall asleep maybe 3 AM with the Allman Brothers blasting, wake up at 5, and just go right back to work.
It was still rough—still no plumbing hooked up, just outdoor latrines. I had sorta been campin’ out, livin’ in the barn, but showering at the family farmhouse across the road. When wintertime came I moved up to the farmhouse and I can remember distinctly there was satellite TV, and the whole Y2K thing was looming. So on New Years Eve, right about midnight, I called my sister in Boston. And it was cold—snowin’, snowin’, snowin’—and there were all kinds of frozen pears on the ground from the pear tree. Eight, nine, ten deer were standin’ out in the snow eating pears, right in the farmhouse driveway, as I was talkin’ to my sister, wishing her a happy new year and laughing at all the goofy-ass ceremonies all over the world.
Along about February or March, my friends Cynthia and Jeri in Atlantic City called to ask if I’d come down and refinish the hardwood floors of their new house, and paint, and do a bunch of work before they moved in. I was ready to get the hell outta the cold so I said sure. I went down there, and in the process of working on their house, while driving around in the evenings, I found this decrepit, fallin’-down cottage, piece-of-junk house that was a block and a half from the beach. I put in a real low-ball offer, $20-30,000 below what they were askin.’ And they went for it. And I got it.