Above Rich’s New Place …

Above Rich’s Place
Waltz for Debby

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John Fraim

My good friend Rich has lived in a number of places in Columbus since I first met him 20 years ago. I’ve liked some better than others. Whatever the case, he has always made the most of where he lived by modifying it for his own style. He has a great eye for decorating. Especially, items of the retro 50s and 60s era with various iconic furniture, music equipment, records, paintings, books, shaving equipment from early periods in the 20th century like the 1920s and 30s. 

For several years, he has been attached to the Tiki era of the 50s and 60s and the famous Kahiki restaurant in the Columbus of 1960. He has had all types of Tiki items around his place. Including the music of Martin Denny with his jungle sounds music that the Kahiki played over their music system.

Each year, I’ve watched as his collection grew. Rich was an expert at attending just the right estate sales and was able to grab key items before the crowd did. I got interested in all the items he was getting from estate sales. It seems that a lot of high appraised items on Antiques Roadshow were bought at estate sales. Rich knew what he was looking for.

* * *

I asked if I could go to one with him. He said he’d love to have me. In a few days, we arrived early in the morning in Bexley, Ohio (one of the oldest and elitist suburbs in Columbus, just east of downtown) on one of their streets with trees overhanging it so much it made a tunnel in the early morning light. Rich had told me he had his eye on an old record cabinet from the 50s seen in the list of items for the estate sale posted on the Internet. 

Rich drove past the home of the sale but there was a crowd gathered in the driveway of the place and no place to park on the street in front of it. The home built somewhere in the 50s I guessed. Against a wall of trees in the back. Sun from the east hitting directly onto it and bringing out all the color possible. Not far beyond what photographers called the Magic Hour of the day. 

We parked under the trees on the street a block away as the street was already full of people attending the estate sale. As we walked up the driveway to the estate Rich said that we could go to almost the front of the line. He was already assigned numbers 14 for him and 15 for me. 

We walked past the line waiting as we approached the front door of the home. We walked toward the end of the line reserved for those with numbers like Rich and me. It was a much shorter line than the line to those who had no assigned numbers. 

Rich’s place on the right with the old racetrack in the background

There was a small line by the front door of the estate sale home. We walked to get into the line with assigned numbers.

“Damned,” Rich whispered to me. “The Golden sisters.” 

“Who?” I asked.

“The best in the business,” he said. “Faster than anything when the gates open.” 

“You’ve been in competition with them?” I ask.

“They like exactly the same period I like,” Rich said. “The same objects. The same everything. It’s like our brains want the same thing. It’s crazy.” 

Rich introduced me to the Golden sisters when we stepped into line. They were rather large women, dressed in clothing I recognized from styles of the 50s and 60s. Somewhat influenced by the hippie look of the 60s. Tie-die scarves in their clothing. 

It was just a minute before the door would be opened and the crowd pushed against each other.

“You go left into the living room of the home,” Rich said. “You know what the cabinet I want looks like. I’ve showed it to you enough. I’ll go right into the dining room. The sisters are going after the cabinet too. I’m sure of this. I could see it in their eyes. We really must hustle when they open the door.”

He was right. The harmless appearing crowd of the 13 people in front of us. Including of course the Golden sisters, turned into a vicious, mad crowd the moment the guard opened the front door of the estate sales home. 

I worked my best to push my way through others into the home and head for the living room and hopefully the cabinet Rich wanted. 

* * *

But the Golden sisters were moving quickly in front of me, amazingly quick for two old ladies. I was close behind them. But still, behind them as we entered the living room of the home after going down the center hallway of the home. I was right behind them now and we all were scanning the room for that cabinet pictured in the online site. Suddenly, I saw it next to a bookshelf in the corner of the room and started running toward it. The Golden sisters were also running towards the cabinet. We all crashed together, and I somehow got the best of them as I ended up closest to the cabinet and claimed it for my own.

I was laying of the floor and holding onto a leg of the cabinet with one of my hands. 

A face of one of the Golden sisters was staring over me.

“You’re good,” the face said. “How good of a friend of Rich’s are you?”

* * *

So goes the story of the acquisition of the cabinet as part of Rich’s collection for his place. He had it as his place in Powell, Ohio on the northern part of Columbus. Perhaps the most expensive zip code in the whole city. Rich had a little home right across from a bar and railroad tracks with trains going through all the time. It was only a block from the historic downtown of Powell. A bad location and at the same time a great location. 

It was Rich’s first foray out of apartments and renting homes. It was a great place in many ways with a nice little outdoor patio. Rich had all his objects through the home. His collection continued to grow. He had a fulltime job but on vacation days he was able to attend various estate sales and auctions. 

But the noise of the place and people constantly walking to and from the bar across the street, the train rumbling by on somewhat of a regular basis … all this started driving Rich crazy. The same person who rented the current place to Rich was renovating a little place in the country really on the far Northwest side of Columbus. It was on a few acres of land in the country. Near the one stop-light place called Rathbone far up the Olentangy River, almost to the town of Delaware. 

Directly over Rich’s place

It wasn’t my first time out to Rich’s new place. I think my second. I told Rich I would take a few shots with my drone above his place. 

The Saturday in Columbus was a clear, beautiful, and relatively cool day in the mid-70s after a few days in the 90s. Without the hint of a cloud.

More than anything else, I thought my aerial shots could be in honor of a good friend who had achieved something that few achieve today. That is, a particular space in the world. A space outside of a city but close to a city at the same time. Such a space my friend Rich had finally found. A museum of the 50s and 60s where Micky Spillane paperbacks are on the coffee tables and Julie London albums ready to blare outward from one of the greatest collections of old, famous speakers I have ever heard. Where that little record cabinet sits, close to the center of the stereo set-up in the center of the room. The little piece of furniture I fought such a brutal battle with the Golden sisters to get. 

* * *

I’ve posted early photos and an article about inside my friend Rich’s various places. On this site.

But in this trip up to Rich’s place today, I wanted to show photos outside of Rich’s place. For the new home he rented just above Rathbone, on the little road north along the river. The major thing it seemed to me was that Rich finally had the space that he needed for so many years. So many have all the things in life. But little space to enjoy it. 

Rich finally has that space he had never had all his life. It was good to have this space in life when, so few their own spaces in life. But this was one of the benefits still of that great state of Ohio. He could be in the country and yet just above Dublin and in the city in just fifteen minutes. In the photo above, looking south towards downtown Columbus, 15 miles away.

It wasn’t to be about the contents of Rich’s life. I followed his growing collection of items from the 50s to the 70s and 80s. It was quit a collection. But there was not doubt. It centered around Tiki culture and the art and music of the 50s and 60s. Julie London 33 albums were propped up against the two six foot tall speakers Rich has from the 60s. Items from the famous Kahiki restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. It was centered around all the objects from these periods of time Rich would continue to acquire. Until one was instantly transported back into the 50s by the mere act of stepping into his living room out at his new home in the country.

* * *

There is so much about the content of one’s life. It is scattered all over the places that Rich has lived in with all the items he has collected. I watched the collection grow over the years. This collection of things in his life.

Yet, what about the context of Rich’s life. Expressed many ways but certainly via aerial photos above where one lives at the present. Certainly a key aspect of one’s context today it seems to me.

What is this context? Are there many better ways than to take aerial photos over where one is living at present as one indication of the “context” of one’s life. Marshall McLuhan might have even termed this a good medium. That is, the placement of where you are living at the present via aerial photos. The context of a life rather than the content of this life. Perhaps one way of putting it.

Rather the context. And what a better image of context of one’s life than an aerial photo of one’s home from various angles like above Rich’s place. An important context, containing someone in the world. 

The isolation feeling of the photos, I feel, are spectacular. But then, this might be just the photographer (or storyteller) talking. I’ll let readers and viewers decide for themselves.

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