The Birthday Present Day of

“Do you think you really know where it is?” said Susan. “Franklin and I drove by something, but I don’t know how to get there from here.”
    “I’m pretty sure, yes,” said Bucky. “I’ll get our map books and my papers.” He fetched his research material in from the car. He and Susan and Loie pored over the maps.
    “Oh, I love these map books,” said Susan. She meant the ADC county atlases Bucky had brought along. Their waitress saw them discussing routes, and asked if they needed directions. “I live in Monkton,” she said. She had suggestions. Bucky and Loie read the maps. Eventually a route was chosen. It was only ten or twelve miles to the spot Bucky had identified on the Internet as the site of the House.
    “We’ll follow you,” Susan laughed. At first, listening to their waitress, Susan had thought she knew where to go. But of course Loie the Navigator had settled on a winding series of back roads as the most efficient route. They all bundled out to the cars, and were soon on their way. Bucky now drove and Loie navigated.
    “I don’t think I can do this,” she said. “I need a Scottish Power Nap. It’s no good eating a big lunch and drinking wine and then trying to think.”
    “You’re doing great,” said Bucky. “We’re on the way just right.” Luckily there were a few long stretches of road with no decisions to be made. Bucky drove slowly, for him, to ensure that Susan and Franklin had no trouble keeping up. No landmarks would be missed. Loie did her usual good job, and soon they were at an intersection where they could look north into a long little valley, with a watercourse visible across the road.
    “OK,” said Bucky, “Is this Deer Creek?”
    “Or a little tributary,” said Loie, concentrating hard on the map. “That should be Holy Cross Road just over there.” And so it was. A little jig jog across the big road took them onto Holy Cross Road, and along Deer Creek, ffollowed closely by their friends. The Lovebunnies spotted a big brick house on the rising ground to their left and ahead.
    “Is that it, up on the hill?” said Loie.
    “I don’t know,” said Bucky, “That doesn’t look quite right.” But as soon as he said so, Bucky saw a driveway and turned into it, saying. “That’s got to be it.” Another brick house was below the far one. The second, closer house was obviously old brick construction, with a big, square section and smaller section on its east side.
    “Oh,” said Loie, “That looks promising.” The friends drove along the gravel lane, and pulled into a little parking spot at the rear of the old house.
    “Are we going to knock?” said Susan as she and Franklin joined the Lovebunnies in admiring the ancient brickwork of what they hoped was the right House.
    “Yes, of course,” said Loie. “Bucky’s used to announcing us and asking about things. He’s done it a lot of times.” Bucky shrugged a bit and smiled and walked up to the back door, to which a big yellow Labrador dog came, barking. The door was in the near side of what appeared to be a modern frame addition to the back of the old brick house. Bucky rang the bell. It was answered by two boys, the younger a bright redhead, the slightly older a rangy teenager.
    “Excuse us just barging in, please,” said Bucky, “But is this the Colonel John Streett House? He was an ancestor of mine, and I’ve finally decided to try and find out something about him.” The younger of the two boys was nodding, and said, “Yes, this is his house. My Dad restored it.”
    “Oh, this is great,” said Bucky. “I’ve been hearing about Colonel John Streett my whole life, and now I’m finally finding out something true about him, not just old family legends. And what are your names, please?” Everyone introduced themselves. The younger boy was Timmy, the older Will, and the dog, whom Timmy assured them would not bite, turned out to be a very friendly Spooner.
    “Do you get many strangers knocking wanting to see Colonel John Streett’s house?” said Bucky.
    “A few,” said Timmy. “We have a book of pictures of the house. Would you like to see it?” Of course that sounded marvelous.
    Bucky waved to Susan and Franklin, who had been hanging back a little. “We’ve been invited in,” he said. They all trooped into the lovely back addition playroom. Timmy found a photo album, and the friends admired the pictures taken during the house’s restoration. Timmy identified a few of the people in the pictures, including his brother Will as a very young boy. One of the pictures showed a gravestone lying on the ground, inscribed with the name Abraham Streett.
    “I think we still have that. My Dad found it in the house somewhere. I wasn’t even born then,” said Timmy. The pictures showed a completely gutted, empty shell of a house. Everyone marveled at how much work the project must have been. As they were just finishing looking over the pictures, the young men’s father arrived. He introduced himself as Jim Reeves. He also said a few people had come looking for the house.
    After a half hour or an hour of questions, the story of the house was pieced together. Mr. Reeves’ grandfather had acquired the house as a derelict structure on land he wanted as farm land. He bought the land and house and outbuildings from the last Streett owner. The Reeves knew the house had historic significance, but as hard working farmers just more or less ignored it as unwanted. Jim Reeves told the friends he eventually undertook the renovation because he needed somewhere to live. All through their conversation, Mr. Reeves made light of the amount of work he and his relatives had done, all themselves. “Farmers know how to work,” he said. But when he told them the pictures showed the house as gutted because he had taken out all the interior woodwork to restore it, the friends’ admiration for the project grew by bounds.
    “It took a year to do all the work,” said Jim.
    “Only a year?” exclaimed everyone.
    “I was on a timetable,” said Jim.

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