I am slowly cleaning out my grand mother’s attic and outbuildings. One of these outbuildings has always been storage for old things, and the other was supposed to store a riding lawn mower, but never did. Found this (Columbus day) time:
The wooden shell of an old television console that had belonged to her… niece? Anyway, it was full of old irons and was otherwise crapped up.
Three bags of completely set up concrete.
One unopened bag of rock salt for ice melting.
Two old 1 room school house desks.
A hole in the roof.
Ten t0ns of stink bugs.
Suprizingly few wasps and bees.
Miscellaneous wood scraps of no value.
Empty boxes and old styrophoam packaging inserts.
I am sure I’ve forgotten some things, but a good deal of trash was taken out and discarded. One of the outbuildings can now be walked into maybe 3 meters. The one with the hole in the roof still has to be torn down, as there is a large tree taking the roof off.
As an aside, one of the buildings is wired for electricity, and back in 2008 when a new roof was installed, the contractor unknowingly nailgunned through the Greenfield cable that ran the lights. This resulted in endless blown fuses until I was able to figure it out during a visit there. You can still see the writing on the cieling where I warn future users to not reconnect the wire. I should take that out someday.
A commenter1 on the Awful Library Books blog once pointed out that a certain print-on-demand publisher of old public domain books had published a classical book, I think it was Wuthering Heights, with a picture of a bicycle on the cover. This was evident nonsense to them since bicycles had nothing to do with the story. I am taking their word for it since I haven’t read that novel.
However, in browzing Project Gutenberg for material to read, I ran across two Horatio Alger books that exhibited the same problem. Yes I read those. Someday I will get a grand spreadsheet together to exhibit just how formulaic they are. Anyway…
Going through grand-mother’s attic today turned up two violins, one her husband’s father used to play to square dancers, and the other from a distant relation she had befriended a number of years. Both are in disreputable condition and are probably useless since they’re ~75-100 years old.
Also turned up were old college advertizing calendars from the 1970s or early 1960s, endless Christmas matter, old bags that “ladies” used to hold their yarn when they sewed, but mostly Christmas matter that I think is ugly.
What else… styrophoam crafty things that are getting given away because someone else can and will use them, unlike us. Old hand-made stuffed toys and a game called “Blockhead!” that, amazzingly, has a Wikipedian page on it!.
Going through the workshop I discovered a t0n of old pesticides. Fortunately I didn’t see any DDT, but I did find things like diazanon (off the market since 1994), chloridane (sometime in the 1980s), nasty sounding other cyano stuff and other matters, including unlabeled (!) bottles and a bottle that didn’t list its ingredients, but assured you it was “a product of Science” (those exact words)! While fearful of the contents, I do admire those days when science was more trusted than it is now. On the other side, blind trust in science lead to some disasters I’d definitely not want to see repeated. Also found were old bottles of really concentrated lye drain cleaner and various solvents that shouldn’t be exposed to persons nowadays.
Additionally, there was some old educational matter, vocabulary worksheets from The Economy Company. The sentences were things like:
We all own the White House, we just let the president live there.
Mr. Manly is the second most patient teacher, yours is the first.
Or you could marry a princess.
Hamburger-scented perfume would be a sure success.
The moral of the story is, be sure to check out your and your parents’ stores of chemicals periodically and especially if they have been sitting around unused for a while. Some may be unusable now and others have a way of leaking their containers.
While reading about new exhibits at a museum in someone’s house (their old mansion), and remembering tours I have been on that were also in old houses, I always had a desire to see the ENTIRE thing. I mean, including the parts that normally get changed into offices, storage, etc.
I know this isn’t practical for a building to be preserved exactly like it was in all rooms, but I still wonder what the original “scullery” was like, or how cavernous the coal bin was. I’d like to have the complete affair accessible to all visitors within practicality. Unfortunately old buildings were about as inaccessible as possible. Jefferson was notorious for his two foot wide stairs that can be difficult for fully able persons to use.
Does anyone else, either visitor or conservator, have this desire too?