“What should I bid?” My father, Arthur Corey, turned to ask the man standing next to him.
"The amount of the overdue taxes."
Arthur’s hand went up. “I bid twenty-eight.”
“I hear twenty-eight. Who’ll bid fifty? Forty? Anyone? Any amount? I have a bid of twenty-eight.”
“Going. Going. Gone. Sold to Mr. Arthur W. Corey.”
It was 1937, near the end of the Great Depression, when twenty-eight was even less than the thirty-five dollars college-bound Arthur had paid for an overcoat in 1924. But at the Clallam County Court House, a few blocks up from the waterfront in Port Angeles, Washington, Arthur was bidding on something far more significant: an abandoned, defunct grange hall, and the quarter acre out in the country where it stood.
Arthur paid the auctioneer, buttoned his threadbare tweed overcoat, pinched the front creases of his brown fedora, and settled it on his head. He bounded down the courthouse steps and scurried up the sidewalk, document in hand. At the cottage on East Second Street, three girls met him at the door, calling back toward their mother, “He’s here! Daddy’s home!”
Their mother Margaret—black-haired, slim, and nearly as tall as her husband—held chubby, six-month-old David. Daddy took off his hat, brushed the other hand through his receding sandy brown hair, and told his wife about the auction.
She looked through her glasses, straight into his eyes, and nodded silently. She had seen the grubby yard and tumble-down shack on their trips out in the country. Her bright-eyed daughters didn’t notice the hesitation. They only saw the sparkle in Daddy’s eyes and heard the lilt in his voice. Marilyn, the five-year-old, jabbered to her sisters, “We’ll be living in the country! It’ll be an adventure and I can’t wait ‘til we move!”
She put her hand over her mouth, fearful that she had spoken too loudly and Daddy would be cross. Virginia, two years older and that much wiser, cautioned under her breath, “The place is a mess. Mother said so, and I’ll have to go to a new school.”
Elizabeth, at three, said nothing. She blinked back and forth at the others, nervous about the change and scared that the nights would be dark.
But it was a done deal. With the cash in his pocket Daddy had purchased a building that would become the family residence.