Retrospect: the mansion

Self-tutoring about people and events from the past: the tutor mentions the mansion.

Back in the Annapolis Valley, I didn’t live on the base; we lived in a village near it. Many of the local kids had lived there all their lives, while I arrived at age 10. Needless to say, the local kids had a “hometown advantage” compared to me regarding what they knew about the place.

An alley went behind the businesses along the main commercial street. I knew it was there, but it looked unwelcoming to me: I got the sense that only people connected with those businesses were meant to use it. I never explored it.

One day, a friend of mine took me around back of one of those businesses, where the alley was. He pointed.

Across the alley, which was fairly wide, stood a building much taller than those in front of it on the main street. Yet, because the sidewalk was so close to those business fronts, you couldn’t see over them to this taller building that loomed behind.

I looked at the building, confused. It was not only tall, but large – it must’ve spanned a quarter block. I soon realized that part of it you could see from the street, since it lay at the end of a driveway. Therefore, I’d seen the building many times, but never noticed it.

The building was monochrome – pale, matte yellow. That paint was relatively recent, so it lacked imperfections you might notice. Moreover, the fact that the entire building was that color – including boards where the windows had been – flattened it out so you didn’t notice its features.

At the time, at my age of 11 years, all I could take in was a grotesque, deserted, unloved building. It spooked me to look at it. My friend pointed to a sign inviting people to call the police if they witnessed anyone defacing it. The building looked like no-one had entered it in a long time, nor ever would again.

Looking back, that mansion – for such it was – would’ve been a beaut in its heyday. It had an outdoor spiral staircase to a covered outer walkway that paralleled the upper floor. I think it also had a pole you could slide down. Its design was custom, of very specific taste.

Whoever built that mansion, in that little town, must’ve had money to burn. Various families certainly did, just like in any old place.

What happened to the mansion’s owner, that it now stood so deserted and forlorn, its personality making it unapproachable to almost anyone who would see it? I felt, standing there, a dread that I would be taken in by it, then unable to leave. Yet, all it was, for certain, was a deserted mansion, all but forgotten.

Oddly, I never asked my friend if he knew the story behind it. We simply walked away back to our lives. Yet, each time I passed along that street from then on, I looked down that driveway to glimpse that rambling old mansion, camouflaged to near invisibility under matte-yellow paint.

I wonder if that mansion still stands?

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

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