Salted with Sharks

A New Life for Perry’s Place

In Historic Elberta, On and off the Apron, Post Office, Uncategorized, Village Homes on September 27, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Art and Joan Moseler fulfill their dream of a return to Elberta.

Art and Joan Moseler, summer 2013. Photo courtesy of the Moselers.

Art and Joan Moseler, summer 2013. Photo courtesy of the Moselers.

By Rebecca Hubbard

“I was sitting in the front room after school one day and we had an early TV. I was watching Howdy Doody, and I looked out the window. The library [building, at that time] was Buckner’s Garage—and it was on fire!” And so Art Moseler bears witness to another moment in Elberta’s history. Born in his grandparents’ house on Steele Street in 1941, Art spent many of his childhood days exploring the bustling village. His parents’ restaurant, Joanne’s,* served as a home base, and his guardians were the townspeople and relatives scattered on every street. “At one time I knew every family in every house in the village.”

Art and his wife, Joan, are looking forward to rejoining the village with their purchase of the Richley house on Frankfort Avenue. After a full life involving numerous homes and jobs, they intend to return to Art’s hometown to make their last home. Over the years, as they came and went, the Moselers kept in touch with Perry Richley’s grandson Tom Warner, and frequently reminded him of their interest in the old green house located across from the Lighthouse Café. Warner was reluctant to part with the house, which had been in his family since they acquired it, in 1923. It took ten years before Warner was finally persuaded to sell it, when Moseler wrote a heartfelt letter and shared the many warm memories he associated with the building.

Moseler paints Cattonesque portraits with his words about the residence. As young boys, Art and his friends would pass through the property on their way to the dump to look for treasure. Perry Richley owned the home, along with horses and an actual jackass—“not a mule, because it’s a horse-sized thing.” He taught the boys how to handle and ride the animals. Sometimes he would even let little Art take the horses and his rig around town to plow, which was a big deal. The boys played in Richley’s barn, and when Art eventually had his own horse, he was able to board it in Perry’s barn when he summered at the family’s cottage. Perry’s somewhat reclusive daughter Bertha would occasionally bake cookies for the boys or bring them water when they were thirsty. Perry Richley himself was a busy man. He would pick up the mail from the train in the morning and deliver it to the post office, returning with local mail for the train to deliver out of town.

And in this way, many of Art Moseler’s early memories were formed, the very memories that would draw him back to Elberta. The Moselers knew they wanted their final home to be in Elberta, whether or not they were able to acquire “Perry’s Place,” as they will now call it. “The village is in my heart and soul.”

Art and Joan will take their time with this project. At this time, they envision renovating the house and possibly offering it as a rental unit, while they plan to build a new home for their own residence on the same lot. The Richley house needs extensive work, but the couple hopes to maintain its architectural integrity. An early quote at replacing the glass within the existing window frames came in at over $3,000. “[The renovation] will be piecemeal,” says Art.

Inside the house, one finds the original tongue-in-groove flooring, along with charming nooks and crannies. The staircase to the second floor is exceptionally narrow, as was the style of the time. Through the years, two additions enlarged the original small structure. Paneling was added in a few rooms and some of the wiring has been updated. While the structure is surprisingly sound, not everything is perfect. For years, water and dirt have drained from the roadside into the basement, creating quite a mess. When asked about roadside issues, Moseler said he isn’t worried. He plans to work with the village to resolve the matter and he doesn’t anticipate any problems, stating that he isn’t coming to town to stir things up.

The couple doesn’t mind all the cars parked up and down the road when business is booming in town. “I don’t even know where the exact property line is yet between our property and the village roadside,” he says with a contented shrug. He nods affectionately toward his wife: “She wanted to be on main street.” One idea the couple has is to add a drive to the side street when the new house is built. “We will need a driveway,” he continues, and then launches into a story about the renaming of side streets in honor of Elberta’s World War II veterans.

A few things haven’t changed. Art recounts that if he and his young friends were causing trouble, there always seemed to be an adult nearby with a stern reminder to be good. “And just as they say these days that ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ so it was then,” he says with a gentle smile. Ψ

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* Art’s parents were the second owners of Joanne’s restaurant. The restaurant later became the Village Green; still later, the building was Bob Rommell’s bait shop and it’s now the Conundrum Café. Art says this building was moved three times and he believes it’s the oldest building in the Village. “It started out down by the Cabbage Shed as George Rupright’s store, then it was moved just across the street from where the Mayfair Tavern is today, and then to its present location.

  1. I’m going to print this out for Florence…she’ll see that you are still “doing” The Alert.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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