One place engraved in Irza's memory was Outlook Farm. "In the 1920s, Irza was doing well, so he bought the farm back from a distant cousin. It didn't have indoor plumbing or electricity. It needed some renovations. But, Irza had warm feelings for the farm and appreciation for the architecture of the place. One of his drawings seems to show the view from Outlook Farm at the top of the hill looking west. But, it's hard to say as there are so few landmarks. I'm too young to remember much about the farm, but it assumes kind of a mythic quality for my older cousins." Although the farmhouse burned in the 1970s, part of the brick portion remains. As a result, he said that it still looks today a bit like it used to back then. So, Hawley has no regrets.
I do regret one aspect of my visit to Hawley's house. Before I had a chance to speak with his mother, Elizabeth, I ran out of time. On my way out the door, she made me promise that I would return to interview her, and of course, I said that I would. Sadly, Elizabeth Somes Arnold passed away just three weeks later on Jan. 28, 2010, at the age of 87. Irza's art will probably last forever. But, our knowledge of this place and the people who came before us is limited only by the number of questions we're willing to ask folks today, while they're still with us. Don't wait.
Looking Backward will appear in the Messenger every other week, as long as there are stories to tell. If you have questions about this story or suggestions for future ones, including any local historical images or information, please contact me via e-mail at email@example.com.
This original print, 'Steam Thresher,' one of several etchings in the 'Vanishing America' series, was engraved by James Irza Arnold in 1949.