The Duman’s Suitcase

We found this hand made name plaque on the fence & keep it all these years.  It hangs near the fish pond

We found this hand made name plaque on the fence & keep it all these years. It hangs near the fish pond

We came to find and purchase the Duman’s pervious home by way of my friend Emily. She lived in the neighborhood we now share and we had been in terse negotiations for the home being sold right next to hers.

Once Emily knew we fell in Love with her neighbor’s floorplan design, and she was privy the day of the exact floorplan home being listed up the street, Em called me.

Gary & I, eager to take a look, rushing that same night to the Nevada Ave. home, not even 24 hours on the market, with flashlights in hand.

The Duman’s bought this new tract house in 1977, and lived in their retirement home for 15years. Evidence left behind in the empty home made it clear that Mrs. Duman had dementia as there were reminents of taped notes all over the home to help her remember tasks, posted by her husband. The home came to be on the market once Mr. Duman passed away unexpectedly in his sleep. Mrs. Duman’s sons placed her in a care facility, and put their mother’s home up for sale.

Peeking into the windows at the back of the house, unfurnished, we were able to see much potential. The backyard was overgrown, a forest of junipers, and spiders. A rock pond sat to the left of the porch. The center of the porch had the ugliest termite infested BBQ constructed of creosote dripping railroad ties. Meals prepared on that carcinogenic grill may have been the cause of Mrs. Duman’s dementia. Perched above the BBQ monster was an enormous hanging diamond shaped lamp encrusted with avocado sized orange glass chunks.

We heard a splash & sucking in the pond’s direction. Shinning our flashlight at the pond there were a dozen Koi at the surface smacking their fish lips anticipating a feeding. Well, I was hooked, after a year of searching, I wanted this two-thousand square foot fixer-upper, and it’s adorable pet fish.

We closed on our new home in October of 1992 with a $20K savings from the Fresno Court house, and, the seller of that house with his satellite dish negotiating hot potato WAS NOT HAPPY.  371_sold

It was clear to us the Dumans were in Love. The garage walls were covered with stapled menus from around the world from their travels, an oil portrait of their dog, and many items in the rafters. It didn’t bother us in the least that Mr. Duman died here.

Shortly after moving in, Gary woke telling me about a dream he had. “I found a brown & striped suitcase in the rafters of our garage, and it was filled with money”. I did’t think anything of it, and immediately forgot about Gary’s dream. It took a couple of weeks, then finally I looked up in the garage. Oh my goodness, there it was! Just as Gary described it. I yelled out to Gary, with instant visions of great wealth. When I came back into the house, excited to bring him out to the garage and up on a ladder, he is laughing. Laughing! He discovered the suitcase the week of his dream, and set me up. Boy did I fall.

Keeping true a fishermen and his tales, when Gary would retell the story, his version in all conviction, was that upon first discovering the suitcase he took it down from the rafters & filled it with crumpled newspaper to add just the proper amount of currency weight, and cunning delight to his prank. I have no doubt he did check for the wishful riches. I allowed the indulgence of his story to swell over decades. Then finally I had to remind him of the accurate version. After all, I was there too.

Twenty-two years later, we have been doting owners of our Love nest on Nevada Ave. In 2013 we landscaped the front yard with a drip system and primarily native ocean friendly plants. The backyard has been 22yrs. of transformation, making it the most wonderful of dog parks, bird haven, and butterfly refuge. Our apple tree is also our Betty’s final resting place. Butch, our black lab, is buried in our rose garden, which is where I thought we would also place Betty. However, our neighbor Tom reminded us how Betty would scavenge every day under that tree finding apple snacks. To honor her 18 full years, I had my artist girlfriend Mb Hanrahan, make 18 red ceramic hearts, which I hung with copper coated electrical wire, making them incredibly stable during those very windy days.

I’m writing this story to leave in the time capsule we will place in the soon to be extended wall for our downstairs remodel. Maybe someday, after we too have lived out our life together, the new owners will discover our time capsule, and find a couple, very much in Love, who cared and protected the house they took a lifetime making into their home, and sanctuary.IMG_0332