“Julie, Are You Sitting Down?”

Every now and again, a story so bizarre comes along, you just know you’ll never forget it.

I knew I was in trouble when the voice on the other end of the phone began with, “Julie, are you sitting down? We need to know if you are up for this one.” There was a large 1920’s home in a well-known and desirable area that was “full of junk.”  Certainly in all these years of doing this line of work, I was accustomed to what people describe over the phone and have seen my share of junk in the world.  Very little within a home could ever scare The Estate Lady.  I was given the key to go over to the home to assess it myself, but was told to consider myself warned.

The key worked, but the door didn’t.  Strong as I am physically, there was something barricading the front door … and the back door, and the side door.  My assistant and I peeked in the windows and could clearly see the most unbelievable sight.  Debris was everywhere and anywhere you looked.  The beautiful trees had punched holes through the glass windows and vines grew in the interior of the house.  The floor could not be seen and neither could the furniture.  The bathrooms were inoperable, so I will go no further on that issue.  In all my years, I had never seen one like this.  This, I thought, would take a miracle.  Not one to shy away from challenges, we decided we were up for it.

Once we gained entrance to the interior of the house through a window, it didn’t take us long to realize the resident had not opened his mail in years.  Decades, actually, since 1964 to be exact.  The paper and other debris was up to our knees on the first floor and up to our chest on the second floor.  The attic too was full, as well as the basement.  It is still among the most fascinating cases I had ever seen for hoarding.

The job itself took 9 days to complete, but several dumpsters later, we sifted through 3 massive commercial dumpsters full of mail that had not been opened since I was a baby.  In that mail, we found considerable amounts of money the family never knew he had: overseas accounts, etc.  Financial documents were found that were needed and other personal items were also discovered, long forgotten by family members that had given up on this hopeless situation.

Oddly enough, we also found 9 loaded guns under the debris which we were stepping on all week, several deceased animals, a multitude of unmentionables that I will have to take to my grave, and a duct-taped freezer down in the basement which was reminiscent of the basement in “Silence of the Lambs,” complete with a swinging single light bulb and dirt floor.  And yes, our imaginations went wild.  But the good news is that within 6 days of our completed work and an empty house, it sold for a healthy selling price.  All’s well that ends well — despite the circumstances. 

It made me come home and donate and throw out as much as I could get my hands on!

© 2011 Julie Hall