Week 12 – Amy
A few years ago we did some renovation work on our current house. This required tearing down a wall and busting into some floors. Since our house is over 140 years old, I was certain we would find an artifact of some sort. Maybe an old photograph, a bottle or perhaps a Victorian hair-pin that Rose DeWitt (AKA Kate Winslet) had allowed to carelessly fall between the floor boards. Remember how at the end of Titanic old lady Rose dropped the Heart of the Ocean (That blue diamond necklace) into the sea? Just like that- except…into my floorboard. I once read a book about a man who said that the Victorian era rained down on his head when he busted into a wall. I guess that image really stuck. I too wanted rain of Victorian hats, pennies and pipes to become lodged in my hair. Since our current house was gutted in the 70’s I realize this was not likely, but I was holding onto this hope since we would be tearing up sub floor and possibly into uncharted territory, eerily similar to exploring the wreckage of the Titanic. To my disappointment and no one’s surprise there was nothing. So, to help make up for the fact that I hadn’t found some clue to the fancy inhabitants that had come before us, Joe and I made a little artifact of our lives and closed it up in the wall.
Hopefully, 100 years from now someone like me will be excited to discover it. They will probably laugh about the way we are dressed and maybe be a little ticked off it is not a giant rare blue diamond.
If you haven’t figured it out, I REALLY want to find things in walls.
Occasionally when we have talked to people who have rehabbed houses I am inclined to ask excitedly, “Did you find anything in the walls?!” After getting varied responses to this question it turns out there are two types of people. People who hope to find things in their walls and people who don’t. Someone I know found a dead mummified cat in a wall. Wouldn’t that be exciting!? Anyhow, I was a little obsessed with this idea and not so secretly going to be bummed out if there was nothing in our walls. There just HAD to be something.
So far we have found some things in the walls (fist pump!) and we have also found small oddities while doing jobs like unearthing the driveway and ripping out utilities. I know you want to see what we found. Here you go.
We first discovered that the original wood floors in the upstairs bedroom were covered in newspaper before linoleum was laid down. This apparently happened in 1936. We are slowly going through these and most are still under the floors. It’s interesting to read what was being said about the Nazi’s in the 30’s as well as to note the price of a frock. As a side project I’d love to cut out articles with addresses and mail them to the current inhabitants of those homes. Wouldn’t you like to know if there had been a moonshine raid in your house?
We laughed at how much college fashions have changed in the past 75 years…
An avid comic reader, Aiden was excited to get his hands on these old comics. After reading through them he just said, “I don’t get it.” Frankly, neither did I.
While digging in the dirt, I found all sorts of odds and ends. A tiny plastic blue duck, the knob of a retro oven, strange and unidentifiable metal parts, and pictured below a little vintage toy elephant.
While taking down the walls in the kitchen Joe came across two or three hives. Here are some pieces that he pulled down. I think they are quite beautiful.
Most notable of all the things we’ve found are these four little Victorian magazines. They were lodged in the wall above a doorway. There are sadly no dates that we can see anywhere but they do have stamps to an address on Washington street where they were sold. They are full of romantic illustrations and dramatic language. I have done some light poking around online but I can’t seem to find anything referencing them. Let me know if YOU know something about them. In the meantime, I’ll have to get my rare book librarian brother in law to bring me a book pillow and some white gloves. He can help me turn the pages with my tweezers.
Speaking of things we don’t know much about, we also found this.
Any clues or ideas?
We also found in a wall this little booklet for Food Coupons
And also this hand written pay stub.
Innocently lurking behind the tub was this jar of what I at first believed to be rotten peaches (Barf). However, after more careful inspection they are maybe just sponges? Anyone want to open it and find out?
And last but not least this item was not found IN the wall but rather ON one. Sinister isn’t it?
Since we still have some demolition ahead of us, we’ll update you on what else we may find!
Follow our story and read the next post: The Demolition Continues
Read our previous post: Finally! We get to do something!