UPPER NYACK, N.Y. – There are too many coincidences in life – for any of us – to continue believing there is no connection, casual or otherwise. I learned that (again) the other day.
My son lives in this Hudson riverfront village, in a 1928 house built by the Lewis Family. One of the Lewises had three daughters and wanted to give them homes. He tore down his own house on Van Houten Street, constructed two small look-alikes and another on nearby Castle Heights Avenue. For generations, Lewises and Buckouts lived on Van Houten, until my son won out over others to buy one of the homes from LeRoy Buckout. Arthur IV had no grandiose ideas to tear the place apart and remake it according to modern “elegance.” Instead, “George Bailey,” whom I can truly call my son, has simply fixed up a simple but truly comfortable home. That intent made LeRoy quite happy.
Yet the time arrived when Arthur needed space for wife and two children, and that meant converting what was once a dirt floor basement into a romper room/living area. Yours truly has been the volunteer “contractor” on the job, along with experts in drainage, heating, electricity and dry-walling.
After months of building stairs, putting in a floor, adding to the pro electrical work, wall finishing and trim, I came to the drop ceiling portion, where old-fashioned tin was used. This required sturdy gloves, big tin snips and some muscle.
It was while working on a small table, set up by chance under the southeast window, when I realized, as I cut a circle for a light, that I was handling tin in the very same spot where Mr. Lewis had his commercial tinsmith’s workshop in the late 1920s.
If a photograph could have been taken of me at 11:30 a.m., August 27, 2010, in a brightly lit, almost finished room in what was once the unfinished basement of the house at 25 Van Houten, and if a shot had been snapped of Mr. Lewis at 11:30 a.m., August 27, 1929, and if the two had been compared, the latter would have been of a professional craftsmen making a living and the former of a man helping his son build his family’s space.
Similarities, yes. Coincidence? No, no more than my son Arthur 4th resembling good George Bailey. He even has the same white picket fence in front of his home.