It only believes
In a pile of dead leaves
And a moon
That’s the color of bone
– Tom Waits
This Italianate corpse in this lonesome Vermont village was actually an amazing portal into the past despite its rampant decay, with an impressive amount of vintage influences left behind since its abandonment decades ago. Many of these things were from the swanky 70s, though, and sort of brought this almost sleazy weight down upon the coalesce.
When I pulled into town that day, the wind was strong, and once you got a block away from the village’s historic downtown neighborhood that followed a few blocks along a well-attended state route, it got pretty quiet, and the few older folks outside raking leaves in the cold or strolling down crumbling sidewalks gave us strangers suspect sideways glances. The never-ending stream of traffic yet permeating silence and deserted storefronts gave the village a surreal aura. But history manifests itself deeply up that way. I bet every house has a few skeletons in their closets, maybe even in a sense that isn’t metaphorical.
The paling yellow property that held my interest had grown wild and is now a grave – its overgrowth clung to my jeans and stung my face as I attempted to make my way around the back of the house, away from the open road where there’d be people wondering what a fella like me was doing inching closer to a place like this.
Indeterminable lumps of gross garbage and things tossed behind the house were awkward to scramble over as I made my way towards a rotten back porch and my way inside; a broken window. Entering through the passage allowed me to now admire an astonishing specimen of wall decomposition with the characteristic folds of sagging paint and still impressive ephemera around me falling to pieces with no other informative signs to be seen, making a mockery out of human virtues of order and hygiene.
Depending on what side of the house you were on dictated the rate of decay. Some areas still had strong bones and beautiful masculine woodwork. Pocket doors with gilded ornamentation within their door handles and a stairwell with remarkable newel posts of my secret desires – while the other section had completely given into descending, due to how sections of roof are holding up. Parts had partially or entirely collapsed, concealing whatever secrets they had underneath chunks of rubble, making it pretty difficult to forensically reassembling any layers of this corpse that are still available.
Not depending on which part of the house we were in; most all rooms had a bit of uncreatively crass graffiti scribbled onto the walls, usually telling about a girl or some sort of unpleasant sounding coitus. I thought the most hilarious tag I came across was the fact that someone actually spraypainted the name of the town onto the wall of the parlor.
And then there was something off about this broke down palace. Sounds carried all too well inside its curating rot that was a flimsy shell of its former grandeur. Voices transmitted in the wind and we were pretty sure we heard an old woman talking to US at one point when we went upstairs – as if ‘she’ was in the house. Though my friend seemed to be more sensitive to that particular happening than I was at the time. Some relics of occupation had been left behind, but most of them were completely ruined by neglect and various collapses over the decades.
Awkwardly clambering my way up a wobbly staircase, I found myself sitting in a tipsy old cupola in delight and taking in the morning, the village noises, and the views with a damn good cup of coffee enhancing my solitude. This house was a real treat.
Even in the midst of that howling weather that dolefully cried through broken windows, rotting wood, and continuously banged the door of a rusted clunker sitting in a nearby trailer’s driveway.
Which really makes me shake my head all the more at writing ‘what a shame’. If only building trends returned to something meaningful and crafted instead of cookie cuttered, cheap drywalled crap.
What sort of things culminate into making something become forsaken and disheveled? I don’t think I’ll ever not be fascinated by human beings.
Stranger still; when we crawled out a window to take our leave, a woman’s voice intoned somewhere from a distance behind dead lilacs, and said; “leaving already?”
**friend's startled iPhone photo. Real photographers and explorers know that you're often willing to do whatever it takes for a photo – even if you hesitate for a moment that it might be worth it. Like punch/crawling my way through a rotting wall and built in shelves and amusing the fuck out of my friend. I had an adventure today! Gotta take advantage of weather that isn't 20 and snowing.
I’m looking for stories of Vermont and Vermonters (or New England, Quebec and anywhere else if it’s worth the drive – even if it’s a day’s haul. Please contact me if you have some weirdness you’d like to share! Help me keep this website imbued with content!
Since 2012, I’ve been seeking out venerable examples of Vermont weirdness, whether that be traveling around the state or taking to my internet connection and digging up forsaken places, oddities, esoterica, and unique natural features. And along the way, I’ve been sharing it with you on my website, Obscure Vermont. This is what keeps my spirit inspired.
I never expected Obscure Vermont to get as much appreciation and fanfare as it’s getting, and I’m truly grateful and humbled. Especially in recent years, where I’ve gained the opportunity to interact with and befriend more oddity lovers and outside the box thinkers around Vermont and New England. As Obscure Vermont has grown, I’ve been growing with it, and the developing attention is keeping me earnest and pushing me harder to be more introspective and going further into seeking out the strange.
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I want to continuously diversify how I write and the odd things I write about. Your patronage would greatly help me continue bringing you cool and unusual content and keep me doing what I love!