The Old Van Wallace Place

The Old Van Wallace place is no more.

It finally got swept into the river.

The Old Van Wallace place was a two-story gray farmhouse from the end of the 19th century, cursed from the day it was built. Edgar Van Wallace positioned it deep in the woods of what was at the time known as Moravian’s Dip. Dandavin County was split by the hated Clinton River which would flood each spring, summer, fall and winter. And there in the center was Moravian dip.

The nearest road, if you could call a stretch of Indian graves a road, was named after a civil war uniform launderer name of E. E. Moravian. He built his foolhardy road right through the Clinton river to take advantage of the current in his washings business. At the lowest, coldest point – The Dip – where land was cheap and hard, Old Van Wallace made his stand.

Edgar Van Wallace was crazy. His business was selling jars of Bottled Madness. It was like a cold, dark jelly one rubbed on his forehead prior to sleep and sunday services. Van claimed it gave you multi-color dreams and an excess of confidence. But its consequences were severe. Van Wallace himself used it all day. He would go into the forest, in broad daylight, and peel bark off trees and affix it to himself.

“I’m a tree, I’m a tree. Cut me down, Lord,” he would yell. Then he’d pee in all directions (with the help of my time machine, I wrote about most of this for the Dandavin county Executer Newspaper which was banned by the churches of the time for it’s flamboyant puzzles page). It was quite a sight.

WELL, old Van Wallace took himself a wife.

She was part Armenian which accounted for the strength of her hair braid. And thank god, because I’m sure it saved her life more than twice when the floods came. Tying herself to the banister to prevent being washed away.

She took to making detailed schematic drawings of flying machines, each more fantastic than the last. Folks weren’t sure if this pursuit was on account of her infertility or the cause of it. Either way, County Elders ensured her designs stayed on the paper. The bankers denied her load requests and the leatherworkers refused her dried goat skin (for sails) purchase orders. Real shame of course, as we here in the 21st century know for a fact the designs were sound. This country would’ve been on the moon 3 months sooner had we heeded Old Lady Old Van Wallace’s warning. (Her Christian Name never was known.)

Should’ve designed herself a boat. That house, the Old Van Wallace place, was never dry. Black mold’d grow up your trouser leg if you stood still for too long. Every time that river flooded, you had half a yard a water standing in the parlor and kitchen and southern porch and most of the first floor and basement room as well!

But Old Van Wallace – he never left. He took to sleeping in the second and third floors and reciting poetry even as the waters rose. Which is where he died, up in the attic covered in welts.

As for the wife, well turns out she never did exist, so that’s settled.

And that house just sat there, decade after decade. It was made of dark wood, tough and dense. Flood after flood couldn’t shake its foundations.

Over the years it went for different uses. Tire factory, Antique Store, Battery Museum. Each one chased out by the flood waters. I once had a drink in there, back in the eighties when it was a Lemon Bar. But I can’t abide damp socks and never returned.

Recently it was known that some kids had gotten in the Old Van Wallace place and fixed it up real nice, repairing the floor boards, putting up fresh wallpapers, and hand knitting doilies as kids do. Got the town council, now entirely composed of fish, all excited. They put up some rope and declared the place off limits. Had the kids shot.

Some of the councilmen even frowned upon discussing the house in public. Which was difficult because of how often the Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day parades passed through the east wing of the place.

Finally, after sitting empty and cold for 18 years, the river’s edge creeping closer and closer to its door, The Old Van Wallace Place washed away for good. Some say it was simple erosion and physics. I attribute it to a broken heart.

The Town celebrated by running a wire out to the moldy cement slab that was its foundation and erecting a high-powered street light “for safety.” Anyone that heads out there is likely to get shot dead by resentful neighbors. And the fine for even looking in the direction of the Old Van Wallace place while driving by is $400 Canadian. Works on the honor system.

About Chris Weagel

Chris Weagel writes about the intersection of technology and parenting for Wired Magazine. No he doesn’t. He can’t stand that shit.

One Response to “The Old Van Wallace Place”

  1. Maddie Seidel 07/12/11 at 1:32 pm #

    I feel bad for the river. That house was awesome, but far too moldy for any safety standards.

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