Valley of the Dolls

I am constantly reminded that appearances can indeed be deceiving. Stephanie, Molly and I are having post-volunteer-gardener beers at Cheapside. With Stephanie, what you see is very much what you get. Plus I have been seeing her for most of my life so I am all the more clear about what I will get - when I told her that I wish I had one of those muscle-y and vein-y bodies she told me that my butt is looking really good. I believed her. I trust her compliments more than all others; Stephanie tends to sling her honesty around without much forethought. It occurred to her that my butt was looking good, so she said it.

I met Molly through Stephanie about two years ago; their children go to school together. Molly wears her hair at her shoulders, little make-up, a big goofy grin and is usually accopmanied by one or two children. She is the one you would cast as the young, enthusiastic but naive kindergarten teacher. She lives on a horse farm with her husband, two children, stepchildren and grandmother (who requires almost-constant supervision). Sometimes when we invite Molly do things, she can't go because she can't leave her grandmother, or her stepchildren or she is helping her husband. I have on more than one occasion called her a saint, not ironically or sarcastically either. At the volunteer session she stepped up to the task of clearing the half acre parking lot with a fifty-pound gas-powered blower while Stephanie and I hung back and waited for a task with air-conditioning. For heaven's sake, the woman is in nursing school, studying to be a midwife.

We're about halfway into our first beers when Molly mentions that she and her husband, Rick, have recently become friendly with Rick's ex-wife, to whom he was married to for 13 years. I ask how long she, Molly, has been married to Rick. "Two years," she replies. Her oldest child will enter first grade this month. She smiled at me and said, "I know" As liberal as we like to think we are, in the same moment I learned that this chick is not what she seems and that my circle of friends is really quite traditional; this isn't the order in which we usually do things. Most everyone else I know got married then had babies a few years later which is what, I guess, I thought Molly had done and led me to assume everything about Molly is as straightforward as she looks. It wasn't as if she hid anything; it just never came up. She gave all the details with almost no prodding. When I sheepishly asked her if I could write about her if I changed her name and most of the details, she said "Yes, and you don't have to change anything."

The story, straight out of Valley of the Dolls, starts and ends on a horse farm. Molly came here as a 23-year-old exercise rider. She and her married boss fell in love. He divorced. She got pregnant and moved into his house. It's not the stuff of sainthood but Molly instantly became more interesting to me. I can far better relate to this deeper, more complex and flawed person.

Eventually Molly and Rick had another baby, moved the grandmother into their house and got married. From a racy beginning comes the regular peanut butter and jelly stuff that the rest of us enjoy but there is always the risqué story hiding behind the goofy grin, which somehow seems more knowing to me now. That grin has a suggestion of a secret that makes it all the more appealing.

Houses, like people, can hide secrets that mere first glances don't reveal. Colorful flowers, an appealing color scheme and a few well-placed busts of David will hide a world of defects. Hayward Wilkirson's house on the corner of Third and Broadway suffers from the opposite problem: without many fancy finishing touches the house looks much rougher than it actually is.

Hayward decided to sell the house after doing most of the needed repair work but before he got to the more aesthetic details because his dream house on Mill Street became available and he bought it. He will continue to work on this house until he sells it but the price will increase.

After searching the records, Hayward found that something was built on this lot in 1814. The Federal details of the rooms that now function as the parlor and dining room indicate that they may have been part of the original house. Hayward believes the rest of the house was built around 1840 and updated in the Victorian style in the late 1800s.

From the front steps to the attic, more is revealed in this house than usual. Hayward removed layers upon layers of peeling paint to expose the Kentucky Walnut of the front door, its frame and arched window. He has scraped and tuck-pointed the exterior brick to prepare it for painting.

Inside, he removed paneling and faux-beamed ceilings to discover working pocket doors, 18" molding, what is most likely an original federal style firebox and mantle and an exterior brick wall that he feared would fall into the front lawn. Mason Pedro Bazura immediately shored up the wall by tying concrete blocks to the exterior brick walls with masonry ties.

In most houses, flaws are hidden behind plaster or drywall, a good paint job and shiny floors. Hayward has removed years of mistakes and neglect to expose a house that was built to last. He replaced and repaired all that wasn't perfect such as the roof, gutter and electric. And we can see it all. The very solid looking concrete blocks and new molding, milled to match existing trim and exposed brick are uncovered and unhidden. As almost never happens in an old house - here, what you see is what you get.


Corner Third and Broadway


3700 square feet

Contact Kathy Davis 422-2042

If you have a unique or interesting house for sale contact Lissa Sims at lsims@aceweekly.com.