Photo Credit | By JOE NICKELL of the Missoulian
Timothy Gordon | My Writings
Short Stories (From Timothy Gordon's Real Life Adventures)
Author | Timothy Gordon
My life is filled with fascinating happenings surrounding treasure and it’s owners. Each morning, I drag myself out of bed, have my coffee…and then the phones begin to ring. Before you know it, I am involved in some peculiar story of the day or an interesting adventure. I have found though that it is “never about” the painting, the collection or the rare item. It is more about what has happened to it and its owner (living or dead). The book/movie, “The Red Violin” got it right. If you only knew the true stories of the life of a painting or treasure, you would be amazed. These personal stories and interactions are what makes it all so interesting – they are my fix.
I hope to add more writings here, as time allows (Adventures often get in the way.).
Below are samplings of things that have happened to me in my career. Please let me know via email, which one of the unwritten chronicles listed below you wish to have me write next!
My afternoon with (Princess) Diana at Kensington Palace:
It was unusual that the gown, a rich velvet treasure created by Katherin Walker, famous London designer and friend to Diana had been worn several times by Diana and not laundered. Her DNA was visible on the fabric at the collar, under the arms.
It felt so strange to hold the gown up before me in the damp dimly lit room. It was eery, as if she was standing very close before me….I took the black light and began a slow up and down inspection, seeing if the light would reveal to me secrets of the construction of the amazing fabric. Katherin was such a perfectionist that she was known to design the very fabrics and have them woven in her shops for Diana…I reached the area where her knees had once pressed back against the crushed velvet, and I suddenly notices odd little clusters of five – round indentations per cluster were into the velvet at knee level.
I spent several minutes trying to decipher them…and then it came to me. These were created by tiny little hands, Prince William with grubby little hands had been hugging his mother’s knees.
•I had spoken with Robert the week before. He had been very cryptic about his request to meet me – not willing to discuss in detail what he wanted to have me examine. Only that it was “invaluable”…“one of the world’s finest treasures”…“that news of it’s existence would change history”…
When I pressed him, he was able to mention that it was an artifact of Christianity, which if it were known to exist, it might change the history of the Modern world.
I was going to be in New York the next week and so I agreed to meet him at a small diner I frequented near Central Park….I met the tall sandy haired Robert, I sat and ordered coffee….however, another man came from an adjoining table…a dark haired foreigner. Robert stood up and left, and this man sat down.
It was such an enormous project, the rush appraisal of nearly one million antiques and artifacts, all sitting up at a mile high in the ghost town in the lost mountains of Montana, everyone waiting on me to price it to all to be sold.
I had been at it now for ninety days and I was happy to see it getting wrapped up – happy to think of getting somewhere soon with real hot water showers, tired of living on sandwiches and beer. I was tired of gumbo mud on my shoes and the acrid smell of pack rat pee, that old abandoned mountain buildings take on. I would be out of there in another two weeks.
The Finney House was my last building with the last big group of things for me to unwrap and photo and record. It sat there facing west into the sun, all dry-cracked boarded and bleached in the September sunset. I knew I would be going deep into it the next morning, but I drove my truck down there for an early evening look of what was to come. With a beer in my hand, I unlocked the door which was warped and bumped it open with my thigh. It lurched and my dog pushed in past me, excited to chase whatever mice or bugs or dust bunnies that he could find. There is nothing like being in a Victorian house in the oncoming dusk without electricity. Old places with natural light bring on a different set of emotions, ones that you will have never had before in the electric modern world. I was delighted to see that nothing had changed from the day it was built in 1864. The walls and ceiling were all covered with Finney’s muslin “covered wagon” covers. The living room looked like the snow scene interior from Doctor Zhivago’s winter palace, the muslin drooped down looking like big, soft, upside down snow drifts….all white and round and surreal.
There were maybe 10,000 pieces in the rambling old building, everything from 1880‘s drugstore patent medicine bottles filled with their odd concoctions of tar and opium to odd frozen daguerreotype photos from the 1860’s, antebellum dresses in trunks and row upon row of boxes of treasures, all collected and locked up sixty years earlier by Charley Bovey….
Finally, on the last day, I spent this fourth day putting it all back in it’s original Finney order. I had taken meticulous photos of how the trunks were stacked up and the boxes arranged…I wanted it to be incarnate, as if I were never there. If I could have replaced the spider webs and dust, I would have.
Now I pulled the door, locked it with the skeleton key and drove off to record my notes into the report.
It was a month later that I received the call from Allen, hired by the state to review my report and verify values.
He seemed a bit excited and it didn’t take him long to get to the point. “Tim, what did you think of what you found upstairs in the Finney House?” “What, I asked?,” not in the morning mood for guessing games.
I awoke this morning to the ringing of telephone.
A young Southern woman asking me to help her to appraise ‘something.’
“What is it”, I asked, crabby at being awakened before 7 a.m.
A poem, she replied.
‘You have to help me get it published. I was so desperate this morning that I even called the White House…they just laughed at me.’
How old are you?
‘Nineteen’, she said.
I was silent for a moment,
“Read it to me.”
My god, it was good, but how do you appraise a poem?