Although we have noted many celebrations held in 2012, we have never quite gotten around to acknowledging one that is, for us at least, rather noteworthy. It was 100 years ago this year that Gerald Donaldson and Maude Mae Ellsworth purchased the lot and built the house that still stands at 105 Pioneer St.
And during the ensuing years, the house has only been inhabited by Ellsworths, either naturally born Ellsworths or Ellsworths who have joined the ranks of the family by marriage. Three generations of only sons as well as only children, Charles Donaldson, Gerald Bernard and Christopher Cuthbert Ellsworth grew up in the house, making the family one with three-generations of graduates of Cooperstown Central School.
The house was originally built for $5,000 which seems almost unimaginable especially when it must be remembered that at the time Gerald Donaldson Ellsworth worked for the post office at an annual salary of $900. In today’s world, it seems quite unlikely that anyone would be able to build a house at over five times his or her annual salary. But evidently, it was possible to do so in 1912.
Since then, there have been a number of repairs and renovations which have been either necessary or desired. It is our understanding that not terribly long after the house was built it was determined that there was a problem with the concrete blocks used for the foundation. Thus at some point in time, the he-we’s grandparents had a second supporting foundation poured around the foundation except for the foundation under the front porch. And the decision on their part to not do the foundation under the front porch would come back to haunt us lo these many years later when we had to hire someone to crawl under the front porch and reinforce the foundation there.
In 1960, following the death of the he-we’s grandmother, the kitchen was renovated and a new furnace was installed. Later, in 1982, when we, the he-we and the she-we, moved back to Cooperstown following the he-we’s mother’s death, we renovated the kitchen again, redid the roof, removing the original cedar shakes which had been roofed over with asphalt shingles, and added a two story addition with a complete basement at the back of the house.
Sometime in the late 80s, we converted the vegetable cellar and adjoining laundry area into a bedroom suite, which included a full bath, for the wee-we. It was, we think an inspired decision as it meant our bedroom was at the back of the house on the second floor and the wee-we’s bedroom was in the front of the house in the basement. Thus during his high school years we, blessedly, never heard anything, like music for example, emitting from his digs.
And, since the he-we’s death in 1999, we have had the dubious pleasure of replacing the furnace in 2000 just before we replaced both the water and sewer lines coming into the house. We have also done extensive repair work on the front porch as well as yet another roof. And there have been, over the years, too many paint jobs to count. And now we know only too well that the garage is crying out for help.
All in all, 105 has more than qualified for money pit status. And yet costly as it is, it is nonetheless the Ellsworth family home, which has only ever been lived in and owned by an Ellsworth. And, given its venerable age, we suspect it is a one of a kind home within the village. Yet while we greatly enjoy living in, it is certainly not the most important reason we have to live here.
As we have said many times in the past, the true draw of Cooperstown is its people, who bring such care and concern, not to mention support, to their friends and neighbors on a daily basis. And while we know full well how people step up to the plate in times of turmoil, we also know that Coopertonians can be depended on to offer much needed support and encouragement when it is least expected. For example, one simply never knows when one might receive an e-mail which passes on some simple facts on “The Positive Side of Life” from a fellow Cooperstonian. How could one not like receiving an e-mail that reads:
Living on earth is expensive, but it does include a free trip around the sun every year.
How long a minute is depends on what side of the bathroom door you’re on.
Birthdays are good for you; the more you have the longer you live.
Happiness comes through doors you didn’t know you left open.
If Wal-Mart is lowering prices every day, how come nothing is free yet?
You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.
Don’t cry because it is over; smile because it happened.
We could learn a lot from crayons: some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names and all are different colors....but they all exist very nicely in the same box.
A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.
Have an aggressive day and know that someone who thinks you’re great has thought about you today! And that person was me.
Working for God on earth does not pay much, but His retirement plan is out of this world.
Keep a smile on your face and a song in your heart.
A smile is a sign of joy.
A hug is a sign of love.
A laugh is a sign of happiness.
And a friend like me? Well that’s just a sign of good taste!
May we all enjoy 2013 together. And may we all age as gracefully, if not as expensively, as 105 Pioneer Street has.
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