Who was he?
I didn’t know much about him or the other people whose names graced the pages of the books that weigh more than my cat. She, ahem, is not particularly slim. As a title-abstractor-in-training, I am growing accustomed to all that it is involved in tracing a piece of property’s history. The house doesn’t matter. It is all about the land.
And, for me, the people who once owned it.
I wander courthouses and research the history, deeds, and other documents associated with a particular parcel of land. In essence, I am an amateur detective without having to sneak around the suspect’s house. Since I tend to giggle at inopportune times, I don’t think I would succeed as the detective.
Title Abstracting allows all of the thrill and none of the might-face-off-with-a-killer-armed-only-with-a-toothbrush. I am fascinated by the random stories pieced together from the mere legal documents surrounding real estate. Why did a couple divide their property after thirty years of marriage and still remain one another’s heirs? How did a random couple end up on a deed they had no claim to? Why did the divorce degree have to include a clause about the wife leaving the house clean?
I suspect the divorce was not amicable.
My trainer encourages me to keep my mind on the task and admits they, too, sometimes find themselves falling down the rabbit trails of the whys and wherefores of these lives that I investigate without ever knowing.
Through it all, I collect names. The unique ones. As a writer, I love names. Ora Lee, Flossie, and Florence. Arno and Hattie.
Although I didn’t find the latter two in the courthouse tomes. I found them in the pages of a book my friend wrote. She was inspired by the letters her grandparents wrote during World War I. Letters found in an old tin. If I was writing this book, I couldn’t have come up with a more perfect idea for the discovery.
She confessed that she had to let go of the real Arno and Hattie in order to create a novel and fill in the gaps left by the correspondence, but the magic of reading a story about people who were almost real remains.
I seriously wish the courthouse kept old letters so I could fill in the gaps left as a title abstractor.
Then again, I really wouldn’t get any work done.
Or maybe I would be inspired to write a book like Three Little Things by Patti Stockdale.
And I might just call my hero Delbert.