Not all town ‘characters’ are human
Virginia Lee Burton was a children’s book writer who would take inanimate objects such as trains, steam shovels and houses and make them come alive. They were illustrated as smiling or sad and needed human help at times.
I was reminded of her books when I drove by 524 N. Capitol Ave. and saw my favorite house getting an intensive scraping down and repainting. I felt like giving the house a reassuring pat on the front pillars and saying, ‘Don’t worry. You’ll feel a lot better in a few weeks.’
Bill and Linda Davis live in what I would call a mansion-like home. On your left just before you descend the hill toward the first traffic light in downtown Corydon, the word ‘house’ is hardly suitable for its overwhelming street presence. Its huge white pillars, coral-colored roof, dormers and imposing front door make you imagine a white-suited Louisiana gentleman rocking with a cigar in the afternoon shade of a hot summer day. Only this is Corydon, and we are not the south, even though Linda was born and lived two years in New Orleans.
The Davis’ are the custodians of a house that is a recognized town ‘character.’ Bill and his family moved in this house in 1952 when he was five years old. He and Linda were married and have been living there for 27 years now. That means a lot of paint jobs as the exterior is a never-ending update on paint, roofing, dentals and trim. Four years ago all the dentals (the wooden blocks under the roof overhang) were replaced in wood which is vital to maintaining the integrity of the house.
‘There is no aluminum on this house yet. You can never say never,’ Linda warned me, but she is adamant about keeping it all as authentic as possible.
No central air for summer and extra clothing in winter are also part of living in a house with 10-foot doorways, wide open hallways and 12-foot ceilings.
‘These ceilings are definitely 12 feet when I am wallpapering,’ Linda said.
How about closets? Nope, and they have not been added. A new kitchen would be nice, and they have had to make it through life, heaven forbid, with only one full upstairs bathroom. There is a half bath downstairs, but Linda says it hasn’t been too hard although you must deal with exotic plumbing problems involving flushing and hot-water showers.
Every now and then Linda gets a wistful feeling for wanting new plumbing, new wiring and less upkeep but that feeling passes, and I for one am glad. I am comforted to know that one of my local landmarks is being cared for and maintained as it deserves.
These eccentric ‘characters,’ whether they are human or something other, are the ingredients that make for the color and charm of any small town such as Corydon.
Leah Porter is at the Harrison County Public Library in Corydon the first and third Saturdays from 1 to 3 p.m. to hear your stories.