Monday, August 23, 2010

* Royal Flush

Thornton Wilder's home: "The house The Bridge built"
The late J.D. Salinger's toilet (not shown above) is for sale on eBay for 1 million dollars.
J.D. Salinger's secluded home in Cornish, NH
Holden Caulfield first popularized the reverse-brim hat-style in 1949, not Michael Jackson in his moonwalking 1980's.
Forbidden photograph of J.D.

Selling Literary Thrones

In 1976 (age 31) I was struggling to make a living in New Haven as a grad student at Yale Divinity School. I worked as an apartment superintendent for which I received free rent and a stipend.  I did  odd jobs (lawn mowing, painting) and I had a real estate license.  I sold two houses in a year for a total of $900 commission: Not much.

However, I showed dozens of houses and got to know the area from the inside out.  One of the houses I showed was the home of the recently deceased (1975) author, Thornton Wilder, 50 Deepwood Drive in Hamden, Connecticut, literally 100 yards from the New Haven town line.  Wilder had dubbed it "the house The Bridge built" because it was built with profits from his 1928 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey.

It's a cliffside dwelling which snakes up a hill:  garage on the first level, then two levels above it. The terrace has a spectacular view of New Haven. Tallulah Bankead, F. Scott Fitzgerald and many other famous people partied there. Some say it was modelled after Goethe's cottage.

It has a lot of single bedrooms for family, but the showpiece is Wilder's panelled study over the garage.  Not that it was luxurious or beautifully decorated: simply that it was the site for nearly half a century where Wilder worked on so many famous manuscripts yet to come.

The author's lifelong companion and sister, Miss Isabel Wilder, then 76, told me after I showed the house, that she didn't understand what buyers expect. "I think they expect to see golden toilets" she said, referring to buyers' reactions to the fact that a famous author lived here for almost fifty years.

Well, golden toilet aside, the news has just flashed this bulletin in 2010:

J.D. Salinger's Used Toilet for Sale on eBay

Updated: Monday, 23 Aug 2010, 7:42 AM EDT
Published : Friday, 20 Aug 2010, 5:56 PM EDT

(NewsCore) - If you’re a J.D. Salinger fan and flush with an extra $1 million, one of the items featured on eBay Friday will give you a personal connection like no other: His toilet.

Yes, his toilet.

“J.D. Salinger Personally Owned & Used Toilet Commode” blares the headline, next to a picture of a very ordinary looking white porcelain toilet, followed by the perhaps unnecessary line: “Here’s an item you won’t come across everyday!

The seller, located in Winston Salem, N.C., says the toilet, dated 1962 under the lid, is from Salinger’s home in Cornish, N.H. and “will come to you uncleaned and in it's (sic) original condition.”

And that’s not all: It will come with “a letter from Joan Littlefield. Her and her husband are the new owners of Salinger's house and are the ones who had the toilet removed and replaced.”

The reclusive Salinger, perhaps best known as author of “The Catcher in the Rye,” died in January at 91.

“When he died, his wife inherited all of his manuscripts with plans to eventually release some of them! Who knows how many of these stories were thought up and written while Salinger sat on this throne!” trumpets the description.

The toilet is priced at $1 million, although any potential buyer can also make a “best offer.” The auction ends September 4. And there’s free shipping in the U.S.

1 comment:

haehnela said...

That's just crazy. Anyone who pays more than $750,000 for such a commode would be just out of his mind. Now, a J.D. Salinger toothbrush, on the other hand...