Sarobia: Farley’s Last Laugh

Farley- National Center for the Theosophical Society in America

Part of Farley’s Mural at the National Center for the Theosophical Society in America.

Throughout this series, details of Logan’s demise and that of those close to him had been divulged for all except Farley, the American Impressionist, architect, poet, numismatist, Theosophist and one of  Robert’s best friends.

Blossom Farley lived in his underground home during the summertime to escape the typically humid nights in July and August. The abode was bulldozed over by PA’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in the 1970s to end the vandalism that was occurring, and as a safety precaution before opening up Logan’s estate to the public as Neshaminy State Park.

A pictorial of Sarobia with present-day photos of where the buried remains of the subterranean house are, with shots of its current tenant can be seen here.

Richard-Farley-Sarobia

Richard Farley at Sarobia’s barn. Tower house is in the background on the left. (Courtesy of Bensalem Historical Society)

In the remaining months of the year, the artist lived in what was called, “The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost House,” a four-story tower with one room sitting atop of another, as seen in the photograph above.

A partial shot of the tower house is seen below on the right side of the photo:

Sarobia-Garden-GreenHouse-Carriage-House-Tower-Jack-s

Back of garden – tower house is seen on the right.

Unfortunately, that’s all I have for now picture-wise, but believe the Bensalem Historical Society has some more, for which one of these days I’ll return to add them to my collection.

I had presumed Farley built the tower, as he had done with the underground home; but my informed source, Jack, said he didn’t believe the former did. Those stacked houses were very popular back in the earlier part of the twentieth century. Many still remain in Philadelphia.

Jack mentioned that Richard Blossom Farley and Robert Logan played chess often in the mansion. Many times the games got a little violent and almost came to blows.

“Usually Mr. Eisemann would intervene,” Jack noted, stating the caretaker was an imposing  6′ 3″ and weighed 260 pounds, preventing their fisticuffs. Funny how guys that big are usually the pacifiers. As mentioned in a previous entry, Eisemann saved Deborah Logan a couple of times from jumping off the roof of the house.

During my researching Farley’s history, I came across his draft registration from a public-records Web site, as seen below:

Draft Registration-a

Draft Registration-b

Farley’s Draft Registration

The above documents were issued well before his latter years spent at Sarobia. He was reported to have died in 1954, but Farley’s cause of death was a mystery to me. Not much has been published about the classically trained artist. The good folks at the historical society didn’t know too much about him either.

While perusing these ancestral and public-record sites, I came across PA and NJ church and town records for the period around Blossom’s death, which documented the event as occurring on September 1o, 1954. He was cremated at Chelten Hills, a crematory in a suburb of Philadelphia.

Still not knowing what actually killed Farley, I continued my search and found ultimately his death certificate, on which stated the following:

Place of Death: Norristown in Montgomery County, PA

At: State Hospital

Age: 78

Marital Status: Widowed

Usual Occupation: Coin Collector

Business: Own

Cause of Death: Accident at State Hospital by falling on the floor

Condition Directly Leading to Death: Cerebral Hemorrhage

Other Significant Conditions: Fracture of left hip

Robert Logan’s signature appears as the informant who provided the pertinent, personal information about his good friend.

From what I gathered while analyizing the above info, Richard Blossom Farley had fractured his hip most likely prior to being admitted to the hospital. Assuming the artist didn’t have hospitalization insurance, he was sent to State in Norristown.

I had asked Jack if he knew how Farley died before my finding the previous information. He didn’t but recalled when the coin collector did die:

I can remember like yesterday when the Corn Exchange Bank came to the tower and Mr. Eisemann had us get peach baskets to give to the bank guys.

We were working in the garage downstairs at the time. They filled them with coins and put them in this Corn Exchange Ford station wagon. We all watched as they pulled out the driveway with the bumper dragging.

A few weeks later, Mrs. Eisemann, who was the housekeeper, was up in the tower and she came across something startling:

While cleaning the furniture, she began to remove the drawers from the dresser. With the first one pulled out, she couldn’t hold on to it. She called out for her son to come upstairs.

Upon inspection, they found twenty-dollar gold pieces glued to the bottom of all the drawers, covering them completely.

Farley was the past president of The Philadelphia Numismatic Society.

The bank employees that carted away all the coins from the tower were probably the executors of Farley’s estate. He did have living heirs.

As far as what happened to all the gold coins the caretaker’s wife—and mother of Jack’s best friend—found is fodder for yet another installment in the continuing story about Sarobia.

Finally for this entry, my last thought is wondering what became of Farley’s ashes? I’d like to think Robert cast them to the wind on his estate, knowing how his buddy loved living there. Then again, perhaps the admirable artist’s son or daughter received them.

I don’t suppose we’ll ever know the answer to that, considering both his children are now dead with no heirs. I found that on a records site too. Isn’t the Internet wonderful?

Thanks, as always, for stopping in to read this and for your continued support.

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About Mike Slickster

As an early retiree with an honorary doctorate degree from the proverbial "School of Hard Knocks," this upcoming author with a lot of free time on his hands utilizes his expansive repertoire for humorous yet tragic, wildly creative writing that contains years of imaginative fantasy, pure nonsense, classic slapstick, extreme happiness and searing heartbreak; gathered by a wealth of personal experiences throughout his thrilling—sometimes mundane or unusually horrid—free-spirited, rock-'n'-roller-coaster ride around our beloved Planet Earth. Mike Slickster's illustrious quest continues, living now in Act Three of his present incarnation, quite a bit on the cutting edge of profundity and philosophical merriment as seen through his colorful characters, most notably evident in the amusing Thirty Days Across the Big Pond series, all of which can be found at Lulu.com.
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