However, there was no rushing around to get a place right across the way. A whole winter went by, pleasantly spent doing the usual things. Then came spring, a season that not even the city can wholly neutralize. There were a number of seemingly aimless Sunday trips beyond the urban fringe. There was considerable casual comment on various houses in attractive settings. One charming old place ideally located on a back road proved to be part of a water-shed reservation. Another equally charming plaster house was “too far out.” As we admitted that, we realized that we had joined that not inconsiderable group who “want to have their cake and eat it too.” That is, we really wanted a place in the country but we wanted it near enough so that the desk of the very necessary and important job could be reached without too much effort. Also the idea of an occasional evening in town was not to be dismissed lightly.
Such humdrum items as railroad time tables were consulted. Having decided that the ideal location would be one in which the time required for train trip and motoring from house to station would come within an hour, we limited our search to that section just beyond the suburban fringe in Connecticut and Westchester County, New York. We had no clear idea of the type of house we wanted, save that it be old and of good lines. We looked with and without the aid of real estate dealers. We deluged our friends already living in the country with queries.
We found a disheartening number of fine old houses, located just wrong. There was a splendid, two-story brick house with hall running through the middle. But it stood in the commercial section of a village, its door steps flush with the sidewalk, and was hemmed in on one side by a gas station. There was a neat little story-and-a-half stone house with picket fence, old-fashioned rose bushes, and beautiful shade trees. It had once been the parsonage of the neighboring church. Unhappily the old churchyard lay between.
Now, we are not people who whistle determinedly when passing a marble orchard at midnight nor do we see white luminous shapes flitting among the tombstones. But daily gazing upon one’s final resting place, we felt might, in time, prove depressing. Besides, we were by no means certain that our friends had developed the callous indifference of a young couple we heard of years later. Curiously free of inhibitions, these two people bought an attractive old farmhouse with a family burying lot located a fair distance from the house. The little plot with its eight or ten simple headstones was unobtrusive and rather gave an air of family roots deep in the soil, a quality all too rare in America. These young vandals could not let well enough alone. They uprooted the headstones and laid them end to end for a walk to their front door! They were considering the plot itself as a possible tennis court when outraged public opinion forced them to put the stones back. In fact, the general hostility was so marked that they finally abandoned the place and it was later sold at a distinct loss.