Archive for the literally happened Category

What Happened This Week

Posted in literally happened on August 1, 2010 by samsondoggie

John lost a tooth. John asked the tooth fairy for a silver dollar. The tooth fairy responded in a letter, “Dear John: a paper dollar will have to do. Perhaps next time.”

Tierra dropped out. Her voucher was reduced from three beds, then to two, and ultimately to one. You have to love the Durham Housing Authority. Enter Felithea, Will and Hannah.

I should have just parked and went to church, but then Clik and Clak opened up the line for one more caller, and it was Christo Jackson.  I am pretty certain that it was that Christo, with that voice. I imagine he was wearing that blue sport coat and folding those gold-rimmed reading glasses into his thick-thumbed hands. “I have an ’86 VW Golf,” he said, “and it will only start if I tap on the fuel pump with a hammer.” Gee, Christo, why not get a new car, then? Why not pick up an almost brand new ’93 Accord?

I still can’t sleep. In the last five days, I have probably slept for about 25 hours. Yet, I can’t fall asleep. During the day, I can’t stay awake.

Susie and I had two dates. On Wednesday, we went to the Federal for sandwiches and a beer. On Saturday, we went to a birthday party held at a friend’s house down the street.

Melinda left. Melinda went back to Platte Cove to be with her family. Her dad, Joel, has a broken arm. Melinda may be sent to Australia in the near future. It is hard to know for sure. She could remain in New York, or she could even go to England or to Pennsylvania.

We fixed the roof. James put on the last round of asphalt himself. I wanted metal. We got metal. We put metal roofing above our kitchen, and above the front porch. The metal didn’t work. John saw it, and he said, “Gee, that is a funny color.” Well said. When burgundy on the brochure is orange on the roof, it is time to think Continue reading


My Beautiful Idea

Posted in literally happened on June 5, 2010 by samsondoggie

Last fall, I bought a three bedroom brick ranch about a mile from our home. I bought this home, which had been sold by the children of the previous owner at a substantial discount, as an investment. Real estate is part of the American dream, and in the last decade, being a real estate landlord has been a new iteration of that old story.

My decision to follow that path was not a sudden idea. I remember searching for property more than five years ago, in the spring of 2004. I thought it about carefully. I decided that houses were too expensive. It was a shrewd estimation.  Still, the idea that I had made a good decision stayed with me. I had a sense of having been right. It gave me some confidence when I surveyed homes in Durham last fall. Prices were low, homes were plentiful, and borrowing money couldn’t have been much cheaper. Even by a conservative analysis, my home in Northern Durham was going to have a substantial cash flow. Before taxes, I expected a return on my investment of about 17 percent.

Rehabbing the home was easy. It had been the home of an older lady, and it needed to be updated to reflect new taste. I tore down a wall to expand the kitchen. I put in an island. I replaced a lot of things – commodes, cabinets, vanities, sink, and the sidewalk. I purchased a new stove, as well as an older washer and dryer.

And, less than two weeks after we finished, I had a lease agreement with an ideal tenant. A 54-year old woman, without kids, with a job as a housekeeper and a son with a big job in Seattle.  It wasn’t just that. I felt comfortable with her because her story made sense. I could understand her motive for moving. She was paying $800 to live in a small house,  in an area that is full of crime.  Sure, she had bad credit and not much income, but her son was on board. I asked him to co-sign, and he did.  She put down $500 to hold the place.

Except, her son changed his mind. I guess he came to the same conclusion that I did – it was a fine time to buy. I was actually at the home, shoveling the snow off of the driveway, when her daughter-in-law called.

“I’m sure you can understand,” she said, “that it just makes more sense to buy.”

She was calling because she wanted her $500 back.

So, I had the February mortgage covered, but I still needed a tenant. It costs money to have an empty place. The heat has to stay on, and so do the lights.  It is not absolutely essential to have water, but then again, its not convenient to go without.

Continue reading

Then and Now

Posted in literally happened on June 3, 2010 by samsondoggie

I found this picture of Durham, made during the 1930s.  It is a picture of a lunch counter. I believe that it served the tobacco market.

Durham Lunch Counter, 1930s

Durham Lunch Counter, 1930s

Durham Then and Now

Posted in literally happened on May 26, 2010 by samsondoggie

I like old pictures of Durham. It is fun to see how much this city has changed. Once, it was the market town for tobacco farmers, and not much else.

This is a tobacco warehouse, viewed from the intersection of Gregson and Peabody Streets. This is now part of Brightleaf.

This is a bridge on what is now the American Tobacco Trail. I think this is the one that goes over Fayetteville Street.

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