Dream house to Nightmare and Vice Versa
By Marie Cristine Cardalena
My realtor in Greenport on the 2J said he would never buy a house in Greenport. This was back in ’93. as true to my nature I didn’t listen. When I want something I get very determined, as stubborn as the goat of my birth cycle.
The dream began in the Seventies with a date to Mitchell’s the now defunct but widely popular Greenport restaurant of the past. Like Mitchell’s the boyfriend became history but the dream fermented. The dinner and the environs had enchanted me. I liked what I had experienced.
In what seemed too short a time the Nineties appeared and with it the good fortune of being a temp in a catalogue production company. The job was me. I loved it. It was also very social. When a camping trip was planned to the Great Eastern Campgrounds in Greenport I signed up to go. With my young nephew and two of his friends in tow we found our way to the campsite, met the crew and pitched a tent. The fun began and so did my love affair with Greenport.
A highlight was swimming in the refreshingly cold waters of Long Island Sound I view of a lovely beach devoid of crowds. The campground itself was happily rustic and even had a swimming pool. Night was pitch black and somewhat frightening for my nephew. We reached a Waterloo when looking for the auto racetrack in Riverhead. Although on a main road we couldn’t find the place in the black of night. The road wasn’t as lit as it is now. This did not deter me from liking the region. After soothing my nephew’s fears, we so enjoyed our getaway weekend in nature. The beauty and quaintness of the village became a favored spot.
Prior to the camping trip I read a blurb in a 1987 shelter magazine that the North Fork was a good place to invest in property. As always having been interested in real estate, a trait picked up from my father, I frequently perused the times houses for sale. One Sunday my eye captured the word “Greenport” and “Victorian Cottage” words for sale. I called immediately, made an appointment, jumped in the car and proceeded to find the way to my island paradise, as in Long Island.
One year later after viewing many houses I found the one for me. My vision had always been to sit on a porch surrounded by flags to watch a patriotic parade. This was the place of my vision sans porch. The original had been destroyed during a hurricane at the time this did not bother me. When I heard other people speaking about restoring a house it sounded romantic and adventuresome.
I knew the house needed work; I didn’t realize how much. The porch had a low priority compared to unearthing a perfectly good oil tank. To protect the ground waters from contamination, new laws required underground tanks to be removed for fear of leaking. A new toilet had to be connected to the floor. Electricity had to be brought up to code. Just a bundle of money and the right help could take care of the essentials. No problem, I’ll find people to do the jobs. No problem- was I serious?!!
For starters most of the trades people either didn’t answer calls or took their time in so- doing. When I did find competent help they operated on their own clock. A really neat and competent painter literally dropped his paintbrush in the middle of a chore to go scuba diving. He was also the one, unbeknownst to me, who left his cat in my basement. He got the cat in a pending divorce. In addition, he decided to live with the cat finishing the space in exchange for rent. Really?!!
My favorite was the carpenter who desperately needed work. His skills were excellent. He even improved my own designs. I was startled when he called to say his wife had to go somewhere and he had to take care of their seven dogs. Another day of work lost. It turns out the only one desperate was me! I never heard from him again.