The Most Primitive

Another gray November day happened, and I’m not the least bit sorry we’re approaching the end of it. The clouds were growing all the darker as the humidity was rising on the wake of what appears to be our first heavy snowfall of the season. Let’s hope it passes thru quickly so those coming from the north are able to be with their families for Thanksgiving. I spoke to one gentleman today who mentioned his sister was supposed to be here for the holiday, but living in the St. Cloud area, she may be deciding to stay put.

I arrived early at my office this morning so I could get a few things done before I had to head up to Worth County for an early meeting I had with a seller who was asking for a valuation on his property. More often than not, the natives of Worth County, more sooner or later ask me if I’m related to this or that person living up there. My knee-jerk response is always, “If their last name is Chodur, then they’re related to me in one way or another.” I do tell them that my grandparents lived on a farm in Worth County, but my parents never farmed or even lived in their neck of the woods.

I did a quick walk-thru of the home, and made a great deal of notes which are a must when trying to come up with an educated guess as to what a given property is worth. Since they don’t have near the number of sales as we have, it takes more time to balance the pro’s and con’s of a home and placing dollar weights on the differences.

The home I have listed in Plymouth is a good example. I did as much research as possible so to give the seller a price that would create interest and subsequent sale. Having it listed for just over a week, and considering the number of showings we’ve had on it already, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s sold within a month. There are other homes listed up there that are much higher priced which tells me their pricing may be a little rich. Most of the small towns in our area are a bit quirky where you wonder how they come up with their pricing, and even more questionable, is how some of them sell as high has they do. Sometimes I think there are those who have strong ties to a given town to where they’ll pay extra just so to continue on with their legacy of family attachments to a given community.

Just after lunch I met with the sellers of a home we’re closing on tomorrow morning so to get all the transfer documents signed since they’ll not be in attendance. I went over all the numbers with them, had them sign all the necessary docs, and then spent a little time visiting. It sounds like they’re set to have one heck of a big gathering for Thanksgiving after hearing they’ll be hosting over 25 people. Fortunately for them, they have a large enough home to accommodate such large a crowd. I can’t imagine trying to seat that many people in one room let alone attempting to cook for such high numbers. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve orchestrated a pot-luck style dinner where everyone knows who’ll be bringing what.

Since I had a few hours to kill, I went in the back of my office and worked on cleaning that exceptionally filthy wooden trunk I spoke about several days ago. I had to change the water in that pail four times just so I could get it clean enough, and you can be sure I was working all the harder to get the entire outside of it cleaned because of how terrible it smelled once its surface became wet. It’s a good thing I used plenty of the mixture of Murphy’s Oil Soap and bleach so to keep it from stinking up the back of my office. All that’s left is to scrub the bottom and its interior.

I went back about an hour later after it had dried, and was delighted to find it looking 100% better and no longer having that nasty animal odor. While working on it, I couldn’t help allowing my mind to wander and thinking back to the time when it was created, and later filled with all the worldly belongings of some courageous soul who decided to make a new life in America.

I was even thinking about how it must’ve endured the weight of all the other trunks stacked atop each other in the hold of a sailing ship or steamer as it slowly made its way to our shores. I have a feeling the original owner of that trunk was a single male because of how much smaller it is, and there not being any names or dates written on it. The only trace of where that person’s name and country of origin was placed, was likely stamped or written on a piece of leather or tin that was hammered on the lid using smaller square nails. The leather or metal is no longer there, but the nails are, and they create a rectangular pattern the size of a 3″ x 5″ index card.

It’s an exceptionally primitive piece, but I like it because of all the hand tooling of the wood and custom-forged metal components. By today’s standards, there’s no question whomever created that trunk was using the most primitive of tools. I was hoping to find at least something written in pencil, but the only thing I found was the small initial of “I H” which was lightly carved into its lid. Other than that, there’s absolutely nothing else to give one a clue as to who owned it and where it came from, but I have a “feeling” it’s birthplace was somewhere in northern Germany or even those lands of northern Europe which at one time belonged to Prussia.

Tonight’s one-liner is: A lot of Thanksgiving days have been ruined by not carving the turkey in the kitchen.

Joe Chodur

About the Author | Joe Chodur

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