For Land Sakes: 73 Years in Real Estate

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Today's book was suggested by my Grandpa, and it's a book about the town I grew up in. The book is out of print, and took some effort to find, so I was unable to find a picture of the cover. So instead I decided to use a picture of downtown Elkhart from the beginning of the time period this book covers.

Today's book; "The foundation of all wealth is real estate. Realizing this the author decided to put down on paper some of the many interesting stories of tenants, buyers and owners of real estate. This book has to do with the numerous interesting experiences of Mr. Fieldhouse and his father during their combined total of seventy-three years in the real estate business in Elkhart, Indiana."

I found today's book quite interesting - but it wasn't a book that was really well written so I'm not sure if it would appeal to anyone who hasn't ever lived in Elkhart.

For those of you who aren't from Elkhart and don't want to read the whole book, here's the CliffNotes version, or as I like to call it The AngieNotes Version:

  • The book opens with a story about how the author's uncle was originally headed for Chicago with his field of sheep, and ended up passing through Elkhart on his way. He was headed for Chicago because he heard that there was great pasture land in the part of Chicago that is now known as the South Side. I'm trying to imagine that part of Chicago as being a huge pasture, but my imagination is failing me on that one. I just can't picture it. But the next time I get lost in Chicago and end up doing a figure 8 through the South Side (and there will be a next time because I'm directions impaired) I'll try to imagine it again.

  • Later in the book the author tells of the creative ways his father found for evicting tenants who refused to leave. One such family stayed for nine months without paying rent, and his father was unsuccessful in getting them to leave through proper legal channels because the judge felt sorry for the family and refused to make them leave, so his father removed all the plumbing from the house. This failed to motivate the family to leave, so then he told the family they had seven days to leave or her was going to remove all of the windows in the house, which was very motivating since it was the middle of winter. - That last story should give you some idea of just how boring a town Elkhart is, since that's about the most interesting thing that's happened here in the last hundred years.

  • My biggest complaint about the book is that there weren't very many pictures. I loved looking at the few pictures the book did contain, of houses that were built in the 1890's, most of which are still standing today. I used to drive through the part of town where those houses were and try to imagine what it was like when they were new and the houses still smelled of new wood and fresh paint, and then I would try to imagine the excitement the new owners felt when they first moved in . . . and that's right about the time when I was shaken from my daydream by the anger drivers in the car behind me. Some people just have no sense of history.

  • My favorite part of the book was when the author was discussing how sometimes a whole life can change by buying a certain property in a certain area. And he gives two examples, one of which has personal meaning for me. He talks of a skating rink that his family had operated for years, and how the manager of the skating rink once told him that many people who get married meet each other for the first time at a skating rink and it had happened at least a dozen times during the ten years he had been managing it. I checked to see when this book was written (the mid-50's) and how long the author's family had operated the skating rink (30 years as of the writing of the book) and realized that the skating rink in question was the skaking rink my Grandparents first met at. Not the Grandpa who recommended the book, in that case I wouldn't have been so startled to run across that information and would have just figured that was the reason he liked this book, but my other set of Grandparents. So I guess the author is right, sometimes a whole life is changed by a certain building in a certain place. And for those of you who are reading this who are familiar with Elkhart, the skating rink in question was located in a building that still exists (but is unfortunately now a liquor store) on Main Street that's right next to a McDonald's. . . ahh romance.