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The House of Many Windows
By John Robert Allen
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 John Robert Allen
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWHAT IS A MASTERMIND? A perfect description would be a person who is intellectually and socially capable. He would be an enterprising financier who would have to be energetic and intelligent. That person has the capability of convincing people that he is a leader and a person motivated to succeed. On Wednesday April 30, 1919, the Geneva Daily Times published an obituary that described Wallace W. Paine as the person who had the capabilities to be a mastermind.
On May 2, 1919 there were horse drawn carriages moving slowly down South Main Street accompanied by a few automobiles weaving around the slow parade of carriages. A strange and eerie atmosphere hovered over the area as people began to arrive at the beautiful mansion on Seneca Lake. There had been a death four days earlier that left the city in a state of shock. A cold pelting rain fell on the people who were arriving at 775 South Main Street. The slippery brick street had puddles that were deep and difficult to move through. Black umbrellas facing into the wind dotted the scene, which enabled people to arrive without being soaked by the rain. People were running on the sidewalk with their heads down while maneuvering around the puddles. The horses were standing quietly at the curbside in deep puddles that covered their hooves. The carriage drivers were standing at attention as the occupants left their carriages to make their way to the mansion. It was a dark and dismal day and the gray atmosphere seemed appropriate for a funeral. As the guests approached the front entrance they passed under black drapery that enshrouded the doorway. There was a somber group of men dressed in black tuxedos and top hats greeting and assisting the guests into the home. Everyone who came to the funeral had an air of importance.
James was the Paine's chauffeur. He was sent to the railroad station to greet the out of town guests. He awaited their arrival at the station standing by the 1919 Ford Maxwell. Wallace had the car special ordered and it was the newest and most up to date motorcar of its time. It was dark green with a convertible top that folded down into the back of the car. The top was made with dark gray canvas material. The interior had plush seats covered with the same greenish gray canvas that matched with the top. The car had wire spoke wheels. Wallace was one of the first people to have wheels of that sort. He was one of the founders and president of the first wire wheel company in the United States. Everyone in town knew whose automobile that was when it was seen on the street.
As the guests moved throughout the house people could be heard making comparisons of who was who and how they were associated with the deceased Wallace Paine. Underlying tensions were beginning to surface from various groups that were congregating in the corners of the house. There were comments such as, "How does that common man fit in here?" and "He was only a clerk at the local meat market" circulating throughout the house. The women were especially quiet as they were in the minority. Most women were not allowed to be involved in business or public affairs. They were only permitted to be in social situations. There were a few women in their midst that had a different reputation in the city. They were not accustomed to being directed by men. Women of that "type" were seen as a threat to the male dominated society. These were times when women were beginning to step out in society for purposes other than social gatherings. There seemed to be great tension between these women and the men who ran the affairs of the city.
Wallace W. Paine died on April 29, 1919 in his home on 775 South Main Street. He suffered from a brief illness. This was the era of the great influenza epidemic that killed thousands of people. The epidemic affected young people with symptoms of a cold and pneumonia. The infection caused the lungs to be congested with blood that ultimately suffocated the patient to death.
Prior to his illness Wallace took a trip to Buffalo. His new roadster had just arrived in the Port of Buffalo. The factory that manufactured the Ford Maxwell was located in Cleveland, Ohio. He had custom ordered the car and wanted to be the first to drive it. His orders were to have it shipped to Buffalo and he would drive the car to Geneva. His return trip took much more time than he expected. The April rains fell and chilly winds prevailed. Being the fast and driven person Wallace was he did not wear the proper attire for such weather. He developed a cold on his return trip. It took two days to drive from Buffalo over the unpaved roads. While traveling from Buffalo the rain created huge ruts in the road. Darkness prevented him from traveling in the night with such rough road conditions. Only as he approached cities would the roads be somewhat paved. He was excessively concerned about not damaging the new car. Wallace finally arrived back to Geneva physically sick and developed what was thought to be pneumonia. Wallace requested that his physician notify doctors in New York City of his condition. He thought the doctors had a better knowledge of the illness. They were notified but it would take more than a day to get to Geneva. Wallace died before the doctors arrived. His thirty-eighth birthday had been on April 1.
During the calling hours there were conflicting opinions about Wallace's personality. Some saw him as a smart businessman while others saw him as shrewd and underhanded. He was handsome with a bright sparkling face and had a "way with people." The Geneva Daily Times described him as a most promising citizen. He was alert, active, and eager to advance.
Winston Spaulding was at the funeral. He was maneuvering himself through the crowds. He was an acquaintance of the Paine's. He met Wallace in high school. Winston always seemed to appear in places that were not his style. He was a common man. Most people thought he was the groundskeeper because of his disheveled appearance. Rarely did his face look shaven or his clothes clean. As he walked around the room he had a mysterious attitude about him. He was determined to gather a group in the library to read Wallace's obituary. His voice sounded like a ghost trying to convince people of how things really were. There was a morbid atmosphere that permeated throughout the library. The room was dimly lit with a fireplace that gave off crackling sparks from the hot coals. At the end of the library were circular windows overlooking the shores of Seneca Lake. Foggy and misty skies hung over the lake as the rain fell. The wind blew across the water creating white caps that looked like ice. The waves pounded the shore with a deliberate crash as if making a statement much like that of Winston Spaulding. It was a gray and dismal day.
Doctor Samuel C. Haynes stood among the group that was listening politely to Winston Spaulding. Dr. Haynes was a medical doctor in Geneva. His work involved general medical care and had been Wallace's doctor. The work that he performed was of the highest standards. He was well known for his ability in the medical field. He had a reputation for high standards and associated with people who were like him. Winston began suggesting that some of Paine's business dealings were manipulated to be self-beneficial. He asked if anyone knew of the types of products that were imported and exported in Paine's business in New York City. No one in the group seemed to know much about the company. Someone mentioned imports from the Orient. There was no response to that information. The mere mention of connections to New York City and Buffalo made those listening uncomfortable. Everyone became uneasy and started to move away. Finally, Dr. Haynes responded in an aggravated tone. He was shocked that anyone would say such things about Wallace Paine at his funeral.
Rose Haynes was a stylish well-dressed woman. She stood among the people in the group that was listening to Spaulding. She was Dr. Haynes' wife. Everyone in the group was attempting to understand the motives of Spaulding's accusations. Was he trying to blame the dead man for something? Was he trying to expose a secretive past? Did he have plans to undermine his estate? The obituary further described Wallace as "a person who could grasp whatever opportunity came his way. He had the vision to accurately judge what it would take to make things work to his advantage." After a loud conversation from the library, more people came in to find out what was happening. Dr. Haynes became more vocal and was attempting to counteract the suggestions of Paine's wrongdoings in business and his personal life. He stood forward and leaned into Spaulding's face and said, "Wallace Paine was a mastermind. He was an individual who had a superior ability to focus, plan, and execute any situation into a profitable endeavor." Spaulding huffed and said, "You apparently were not aware of the real Wallace Paine." Rose stood motionless during the encounter. She glared at Spaulding and quietly but firmly said, "You, Mr. Spaulding have no right to pass judgments or accusations on Wallace when your behavior and past life have been less than admirable." At that she turned with the others and walked away.
As guests arrived they passed by Paine's casket and offered their sympathies to his wife Eveline. She was a stylish woman. Her demeanor was calm and collected. She wore an ankle length black silk dress with a low round neckline. It was designed to enhance her slender body. Her hair was covered with a large brimmed black veiled hat. She wore very little makeup and only a gold bracelet on her left wrist with no wedding ring on her finger. Her shoes went above the ankles and had buckles across the top. She wore black silk stockings. The heels were of moderate height, a bit higher than most women would wear for a funeral. As people spoke to her she said very little and responded with only a nod or a quick thank you. It was almost as if she was not connected to the situation or the people. Eveline exhibited refined mannerisms as people passed by. She thanked everyone for coming. She chatted briefly with the society type women of Geneva. The women who were there seemed quite comfortable with her behavior and admired her style. Some of the men wondered what she was thinking as she watched the guests move around the room. Occasionally she focused on some of the men who were congregating in other parts of the house. Her position in the room was such that she saw the encounter Winston Spaulding had with the group in the library. Eveline never gave an expression of judgment with the outburst Winston had with Doctor and Mrs. Haynes. Wallace's immediate family was standing by the casket but not too close to Eveline. It was as if they were trying to stay away from the action and were present only because they were his parents. They were discussing how shocked they were that he had died so quickly. Eveline stood far enough away from them so as not to listen to the same discussion over and over. She began to find the repetitiveness of the event to be tedious. Eveline and Wallace's parents did not communicate very much during that afternoon. It almost seemed like two separate families attending an acquaintance's funeral.
A man named Rudolph Williams stood with Eveline in the receiving line. He was Wallace's closest friend. They were business partners and had knowledge of each other's monetary and private affairs. He knew more about Wallace's background than Eveline did since she was usually excluded from important activities that the two men engaged in. Eveline often wondered what she would do if Wallace died. To her shock his death created the need to have Rudolph by her side. She had no insight into the magnitude of what her husband had been involved in. Rudolph offered to assist Eveline in any way he could because he was named the trustee in Wallace's will. Occasionally, he would whisper in her ear while they stood at the casket. Eveline never reacted to these brief comments. Rudolph was telling her who certain people were and how they had been associated with her husband.
Rudolph was tall in stature and had a muscular build. He was very precise with his mannerisms. He wore a black suit that was perfectly tailored to his lean body. There was a handkerchief in the top pocket of the coat that was correctly folded. He wore a red tie that matched the red handkerchief. He had dark brown wavy hair with piercing blue eyes. Some of the women at the funeral were intrigued by Rudolph and said he was quite dapper. He was a looker and he knew how to use those talents. He stood almost like a statue in every way perfect. Eveline would glance at him for time to time but he would give her no response. Her relationship with Rudolph appeared to be a cautious one. He was very businesslike with her and to the people paying their last respects to Wallace. As Eveline stood with Rudolph she thought how comfortable she felt with him. She knew a different side of Rudolph and liked it.
Eveline was described as a cultured young woman in her 30s. She was sporty in her attire but formal in her attitude toward life. She was a classy woman. Some of the women passed by with questionable looks and a raised eyebrow directed at Eveline. They stared at Rudolph but for different reasons. They had lust in their eyes. The women of Geneva were a very class-conscious group. They often were outspoken about women who did not fit into their social circle. They did not realize that their actions looked more like jealousy, which was evident when they met Eveline. She found their behavior to be low class and distasteful. The only way for her to handle that was to be an example of an independent woman.
Hundreds of people arrived at the funeral. There had never been so much happening in one place. Wallace Paine had made a huge mark on the City of Geneva. It was approaching 1PM and the funeral was about to begin.
Chapter TwoRochester, New York had a population of 85,000 and was bustling with growth and enthusiasm in 1880. It had been fifteen years since the end of the Civil War. The country was still recovering from the effects and devastation of this war. The reconstruction years had its effect on Rochester and the liberation of the slaves. Rochester had been one of the centers for the Underground Railroad that had transported hundreds of slaves to safety and freedom. It had always been a city known for its involvement in social and political matters. In the mid 1800's, Susan B. Anthony, whose home was Rochester, was in the forefront for women's rights. During that same time Frederick Douglas had been campaigning for the abolition of slavery. The Erie Canal flowed through the city creating a passage to the Hudson River and New York City. The shipping industry was a big business helping to establish factories and employment for people.
Buffalo Street that later became Main Street, was the main route through Rochester. It was rough in many places with dirt and dust in the summer and mud the rest of the year. The road in the center of town was paved with bricks. Nighttime activity was limited because there were only a few gas lanterns placed at intersections. Transportation was by horse and buggy. Horses were used for single riders. Buggies and carriages were used for larger groups or merchandise. Men were usually seen in the streets conducting business. Women were not allowed on the streets. They could shop but never be seen doing business.
Saddlery and livery shops were familiar places in the city. They played a vital role in servicing the horses and carriages used in the city. As with most services there were different levels of saddlery and livery shops for different classes of people. Some people were the commoners and some were affluent. Everyone had a special shop for his or her transportation needs. George B. Paine and Sons owned a saddlery shop on this street. They catered exclusively to the well to do or as some said "the upper crust" of Rochester. It was a family owned operation. They offered the finest in comfort and style in the saddlery and carriage business. The saddles were made of the finest leather with studded decorations accessorizing them. These accessories were made of gold and silver to compliment the riders' attire. It was the man's responsibility to select the carriage and accessories. These exceptional carriages were called broughams. Women were not allowed in a shop of this type but were given the opportunity to make all the selections for the interior of the carriage. The Paine Company personalized their service by making home visits. The lady of the house could privately confer with Mr. Paine and make their selections in the comfort of their home. The company's motto was "personal service is a must."
Excerpted from The House of Many Windows by John Robert Allen Copyright © 2011 by John Robert Allen. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
THE HOUSE OF MANY WINDOWS is a terrific new work of historical fiction set in the New York State communities of Rochester, Buffalo, and Geneva. This intriguing tale provides a glimpse of life in these communities through the lens of a clever and driven young businessman and his family and friends. Congratulations to John Robert Allen on his first book. I'll look forward to a sequel to further chronicle the lives of these interesting characters.
I found this book to be most intriguing and historically accurate of up-state New York in the 18 and 1900's. The charactors were constantly surprising, accomplished,titillating and even devious. The story holds one's attention through every chapter, the seeds of insight were brought out well as the events unfolded. The book describes the house of many windows (410 panes) in Geneva, New York and makes one wonder what history is being walked over as one passes it.