Monday, September 27, 2010

Serendipity, the Brass Bed, & other Leftovers

The story goes that an eager young man asked a rich older man what the secret to his success was.  The old man told him “Always jump at opportunities.”
“How do you recognize an opportunity?” 
“Just keep jumping.”

I believe in serendipity. But I also know you have to keep jumping, keep your eyes peeled, your mind open, and then work your butt off once serendipity does strike.  Even so, there were many things that happened in our careers as a result of odd circumstances.

Some friends told us they wanted to sell their 2-family house in Hudson.  They wanted $16,000.  Were we interested?  We looked at it and agreed to buy it.  For some unfathomable reason, they didn’t realize that they still had to pay off their mortgage.  They thought we were giving them $16,000 and their mortgage would miraculously disappear. By that epiphany, we already were under contract.  But how could we force that sale?  It was their family home.  We backed off. 

But now we had the bug to buy a second property.  There was some urban renewal going on in Hudson, so we stopped by the urban renewal office and asked if there was anything available.  The director, for some reason, thought we had money, and took us to see a store/apartment combo on the 300 block of Warren Street.

In its infinite wisdom, (what, in later years, I would call HUDWorld), HUD and the city found it logical to start the renewal process from the lower end of Warren Street, skip a block in the middle, and continue from the upper end, leaving the 300 block with cracked sidewalks, old lightposts and run-down facades.  Not yet understanding HUDWorld, we assumed the two rehabilitated ends of Warren Street would soon be connected.  It was well over 10 years before that actually happened. 

The building we looked at, all boarded-up and funky, apparently was owned in recent times by Bubba, a huge & scary barkeep/pimp who didn’t pay his taxes.  We were told that when the inevitable tax foreclosure occurred, the city couldn’t get a local contractor to board up the building because everyone was so scared of him.  So they called an out-of-town firm to do the job.  It was boarded up quickly, with everything left inside.  When we saw it, once again, we were smitten.  You'd think we'd have learned with the first house, but, noooo...This time it was by a lovely brass bed.  We figured we could get the purchase price of $3200 back from selling it and a few other things left behind.  So we bought the building, and The Man went back in to inspect our purchase. 

Well, Bubba apparently hadn't left town, and really didn't agree with the city’s decision.  The Man found himself face to face with a VERY large and VERY angry man.  Fortunately, this particular day, The Man was on the top step, while Bubba was coming up the stairs.  The Man had the advantage of higher ground. So when Bubba bellowed up “WHO’S IN MY BUILDING?” The Man, hammer in hand, stood on the top step, drew himself up, and, like Oz, shouted back “I’M here, and it’s MY building!”.  Like so many bullies before and since, Bubba backed off, and that was the last we saw of him. 

But The Man kept the front door locked when he was alone after that.

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