Unexpected Visitors, Unexpected Discoveries, & a Hopeful Spell

Yesterday, I came down from high up on the scaffolding and sat in a chair, in front of a fan on high, to cool off.

Then I heard a knock on the front door.

I was not expecting anybody, and instantly thought of the great line by Dorothy Parker wherever somebody knocked on her door, or when her telephone rang: What fresh Hell is this?

Nervously, I peered around the corner and saw three people standing in the vestibule. Two of these persons looked somewhat familiar.

This unexpected trio soon revealed itself. And the trio came bearing gifts!


Amy, her husband Brian, and their daughter Amanda.


Amy is the granddaughter of Frank and Esther Toms, who owned the house during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. I had met Amy and Brian last year, briefly. They were in town again (they live out of state) and wanted to bring me some documents they had found: two deeds to the house pre-dating the Toms ownership.


Then I gave everybody a hyper-quick tour (the family was running late) and it was fascinating to hear Amy’s stories about the house which she had not been in for many decades.

As we walked through the first-floor stairhall Amy said that the north entrance was used by the Toms as the main hotel entrance. This startled me as the obvious entrance was the west entrance with its inviting double doors. But Amy assured me that the north entrance, and its single somewhat forbidding door, was the main entrance when the house was still being operated as a motel.

I never knew that. Fascinating.

Upstairs, Amy stated that the small room in the SE corner, originally the housekeeper’s room, was used as a communal kitchen by people occupying rooms on the second floor. “There was a sink in this room, a small stove and fridge, and a table with chairs.”

I never knew that, either. Fascinating.

Brian also stated that they might, might, have an old photo album with interior images. Well, this got me super excited and what choice did I have but to cast a magical spell on Amy: You will find the album and send it to Ross!

I do not recall that any of my previous spells have ever worked but I am crossing my fingers that this time is the charm




  1. B. Davis on July 9, 2017 at 9:32 pm

    Ooooh! perhaps she can enlighten us about the closet at the side door that has a bit of mystery to it, and the second floor window in the hallway that serves no purpose…..is it to light a bathroom from light from the hall?

    Invite her back to talk more about each and every cranny! Exciting!!!

    • Ross on July 10, 2017 at 9:09 am

      The “mystery” closet in the south hall did not exist when the Toms owned the house. It was turned into a hallway in 1929.

      The window upstairs (between a bathroom and hall) was not unusual. It would have received some daylight from the east hall window, and from the SE room.

  2. glenn on July 10, 2017 at 8:29 am

    Ah, Dorothy Parker. My favourite little Parkerism, even though I’m a non drinker, is “I truly love a martini, just one, or two at the most. After three I’m under the table, and after four I’m under the host”.

  3. Candy Schade on July 10, 2017 at 8:47 am

    If you are talking about the closet as you come through the north front entrance, that use to be a phone booth at one time. The kitchen Amy talked about was for my use, and the room to the north was my living room/bedroom and bathroom in the early 70’s. I don’t remember the kitchen being for everybody to use. The Toms were my Aunt and Uncle.

    • Ross on July 10, 2017 at 9:19 am

      Hi Candy!

      So very nice to meet you!

      B. Davis is referring to a closet which did not actually exist when the Toms owned the Cross House.

      As you know, your aunt and uncle owned the house for three decades, and during this long time various rooms would have been used for different purposes. I suspect that your memories of the SE room being your private kitchen, and Amy’s memories of it being a communal kitchen, are both correct, being memories from different years. When the Toms rented the house to a fraternity in the 1960s the SE room may have been their communal kitchen as the main kitchen was off-limits (being reserved for the Toms).

  4. aB on July 10, 2017 at 10:13 am

    Cross House receives guests in parlor. What fun!

  5. Candy Schade on July 10, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Could of been, we weren’t allowed into the frat. Or the sorority very often. But i spent my whole life coming and going from that house,even my very first apartment, until there passing!alot of memories!

  6. Trudy Palmer on April 1, 2018 at 11:42 am

    ? Ross, why is the space behind the radiators is not finished? My house in Pittsburg, Kansas I painted them black with BBQ grill paint. A little black in every room.

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