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Estates and Ladders

Okay, so when I left off last time, I had just given you a doubtlessly fascinating (ha!) overview of the life and times of Benarr Macfadden...publisher, entrepreneur, health faddist, and raging eccentric. Actually, maybe “lunatic” might be a better word. But eccentric sounds so much nicer.

Anyway, we were at the estate sale of a man who, apparently, knew him. We had to go to the front of the house to pay for our assorted purchases, and we ended up having a conversation with the woman who seemed to be running the sale. “He was,” she said, meaning the man who had lived in the house, and whose estate she was selling, “a remarkable individual. We found ...amazing things in the house. Art, books, photography, paintings...all of which he either personally selected, or he did himself.”

We ended up having a rather pleasant conversation. We learned her name was Connie Fulwyler, and that one of her businesses was doing estate sales, like this one. Also, though, she ran an antique shop in Old Town, called...surprise, surprise!... “Old Town Antiques.” We had a pleasant chat, and we took one of her cards when we left.

We visited her shop the next time we were in Old Town. It was quite nice and we bought an item or two. I can’t remember what right at the moment. But, anyway, we got something, and we came back now and again as the months went on. parents died, my mother in 2014 and my father the following year.

About the photos: Just two today. First, here’s a photo of Mom and Dad when they were very young. This must have been sometime in the early to mid-1960s. Second, here’s a photo of them during their visit to Egypt. I believe this was from the mid-1980s.

My parents had been “collectors.” They were not hoarders, but...still. Their house was full of stuff--furniture (most of it ancient and unusable, and full of dog hair to boot), an enormous number of books (some valuable antiques), scores of father had a whole room full of old Macintoshes. He would buy them, broken, and then repair them himself...a huge stereo system that dated back to the 1970s, a record collection that included everything from Bach to the mother had hated the Beatles in 1963, then rediscovered them in 1964, decided they were wonderful, and turned into a fan...several TV sets that almost worked, sort of, and tools. And tools. A huge number of tools. All over the place.

A story. One year we came for a visit. We found a chainsaw in their living room sort of balanced on a table between two stacks of books, specifically the works of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. The logic was obvious. A(usten)...C(hainsaw)...D(ickens). Alphabetical. See?

And they had art. Lots...and Lots...and LOTS of art. Whoa, did they have art.

They’d always been fond of art...particularly Native American pottery and jewelry, and paintings by New Mexican and southwestern artists...and they’d bought for as long as I can remember. On top of this, they’d partnered with friends and run a small gallery in Albuquerque for a time. When that closed, they’d moved much of the unsold stock to their home.

The result was a house crammed to the rafters with beautiful stuff. I remember, when my father collapsed at home at one point, just a couple of weeks before he died, we had to get emergency services to come and take him to the hospital. The EMTs actually couldn’t get my father out of his bedroom because there wasn’t room for his stretcher. We had to haul antiques and art pieces out of the way before they could move him.

Anyway, there we were, Martha and I, the proud possessors of a house and its contents that was way beyond our skills to manage. Fortunately...fortunately!...we weren’t fools. We knew what we could do and what we couldn’t, and we knew what we didn’t know.

And, more importantly, we did know some people who would know what to do with the property. Specifically, real estate mavens Michael and John (we’ll meet them in the near future), and, as for the art and antiques...


I was on the phone to her as soon as I could arrange it. She agreed and came out to look at my parents’ house. I remember, she walked in, took one look at it, and said, “”  For a moment, I was terrified that she wouldn’t take our case. But, no, she nodded to herself, squared her shoulders, and said, determinedly, “Right...we can do this.”

And a few days later, two of Connie’s employees/friends appeared at the door of my parents’ old house to bring some small order to the delightful, charming, and valuable... chaos...of what they’d left behind.

More to come.

Copyright©2024 Michael Jay Tucker


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