Friday, April 20, 2007

A House with a History....but which one?

A few months back Larry was sitting on the front porch watching the parade of tourists go by on their way to and from the beach. One very old guy stopped to talk. "You know the history of your house?" he asked.

Well we've heard a variety of histories -- as wide as the variety of things we found in the basement. But this guy was over 90 years old and has been in this area since he retired when he was in his mid-forties. ("My wife's a spring chicken -- not even 80 yet. Robbed the cradle, I did. Heh, heh.") So here is his voice, plus a few others. Anyone who's been here any amount of time has something to say about this house and its history. It's a story as textured and as colorful as one of Raul's Oaxacan rugs:

The house was built by a narcotraficante. Well, people said he was a drug lord. Who really knows? But there was a high wall immediately behind the swimming pool, right up close to the water. Not the deck and barbecue area that are there now. Jim, the guy you bought it from, built that. The estero ran right at the base of the wall, so boats could come in behind the house and throw bags of drugs up and over the wall into the pool.

No, it was bags of money. John Z, the third owner, found $40,000 cash hidden in one of those pipes in the basement. Only a narcotraficante could overlook such a sum -- actually forget where he had stashed it!

No. No! That's all just fiction. There was never a narcotraficante. It was Sandy Frank who built the house. He was a famous TV producer from New York. You remember Name That Tune? He liked his privacy. That's why there was the high wall behind the pool.

The narcotraficante's friend built another house over on Los Flamingos. Number 17.
It was #48.

No it was definitely #46.
Well, it was one of those old ones.
There was no narcotraficante. There was no friend.
Maybe it wasn't even on Los Flamingos at all. Remember the streets weren't laid out until much later, when they brought all those truckloads of fill in.

The narcotraficante's friend shot him dead in the living room of your house.
Oh, no! Not in the house at all! It was outside in the street. Everyone saw it.
Ridiculous. No one was ever shot. There was NO narcotraficante.

He wasn't shot. He left the country fleeing for his life. He's living in the States now. And you say he forgot the $40,000?! He never had a chance to get it!

The narcotraficante's friend is in prison now. No one knows where. No one knows for how long.
The friend is dead.
What friend?

Sandy Frank bought the house cheap because of the murder. But he hardly ever came here.
Sandy Frank was a very good friend of ours. He was down here all the time.
Sandy Frank was an eccentric loner. He built that sink in the hallway so he could wash his hands constantly -- just like Howard Hughes!
Sandy Frank is dead. He left the house and all the property on the otherside of
Golondrinas to a Jewish Foundation.
Sandy Frank is alive, well, and doing fine in Manhattan. Unless that's another Sandy Frank!

The house sat vacant for a long time and became the rat trap of the neighborhood.
A real eyesore.
A total wreck.

John Z bought the house. He was a soldier of fortune. All those flag holders bolted to the roof are where he displayed the flags of the countries who hired him to fight. People around here used to call your house "the embassy."
John Z was the meanest SOB that ever lived. He hated Mexicans and they hated him.

John Z was a really interesting guy. He did a lot to improve the house.
John Z kept order on the street. There was never any carousing in the cul-de-sac when John lived there. He had a stick with a big nail in it and would go down and beat the crap out of anybody partying.
John Z lives somewhere south of here.
John Z went back to the States.
John Z could never go back to the States. No one knows where he is.
John Z kept remodeling the house, looking for more cash. You know he found $40,000 in one of those pipes down there in the basement?

Your guy Jim bought the house from John Z. He and his wife did a lot to it. Built that little room up on top. Built that deck and barbeque area out back. Tore out the whole kitchen. Did you know there used to be a fireplace in the kitchen? See, that's where the chimney went up through the roof. You thought that little thing-a-ma-jig on the roof was just for decoration? Nope. When this house was built there was no electric, no gas. How much did you pay? You're kidding me! Damn, I sold too soon. Sold my house back about the time your guy Jim bought this one. Shoulda waited just a year or two more. Woulda been a rich man. But couldn't keep up with the maintenance. Gettin' old. Houses are hard work. You been in that basement lately?

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