Leader Board Ad

Sunday, June 6, 2010

"99 and a half just wont do."

The "Wicked Pickett" said it best....have to be a hundred.

I started Blogging as a New Year's resolution in January of 2009.  I don't know if you can call it much of a resolution, I really didn't know what it would do for me...could be good...could be bad.  Many of you may be thinking - Bad.  Noticing the hour these  posts are often published and the send time of my emails, it might look as though I don't sleep and just Blog the night away.  Well, that's partly true, as a matter of fact, I should be in bed right now.  However, Blog or no Blog, I would still be a night owl.  I think it has something to do with a tired brain and the release of chemicals that signal the onset of a night's sleep. If you can fight it off, it often brings on an interesting state that lies somewhere between lucidity and lugubriousness. Might not be too healthy, but it does make for some interesting blog posts. I discovered this, not intentionally, but by accident as I try to find the time to update the blog around parenting and husbanding. Another interesting discovery is the balance between slack and flack, the slack my wife and daughter extend me, and flack I get when the slack runs out.  

Somewhere in between January 2009 and now, I managed to write 100 posts.  I don't know if that is a lot, or if they could all be considered legitimate full posts, but it is a milestone to me.  In celebration I will share one of my favorite "find" stories.

For many years, my good friend Robyn and I would spend Saturdays hunting for sales.  She had things she was searching for, and I had things I was searching for.  She deserves some mention in this blog because many of things I have written about were found during these journeys.  Though we no longer have the time to hit the tag sale trail (life, work, and other responsibilities have taken their toll), I know that once in a blue moon our calenders synchronize and there will be time for us to hunt again. 

It was a typical Saturday maybe 10 years ago, maybe more. Robyn and I were winding up an afternoon by traveling some familiar roads looking for one last sale.  There are 2 times in the day when it is most advantageous to hit the sales: very early in the morning, and very late in the afternoon.  You've heard of the early-birds, hated by most tag and estate sale proprietors, but they are usually the ones to walk away with the best stuff.  Hunting in the late afternoon, presents a different set of benefits; no crowds, less stress, and goods deals.

As we made the final rounds through Bethel, CT a spray-canned plywood board beckoned us to a church for an estate sale.  Closing at 4pm, we had fifteen minutes to try and make the last sale of the day a good one. This was a unique estate sale consisting of the contents of the parsonage to a church which was right next door.  The house was clearly turn of the century and had many interesting corners to explore.  There wasn't much left, but this was one of those sales that taught me not to look at the obvious, but at the in-obvious.  The attic was huge, with wide floor boards that were full of gaps. Upon closer inspection I found I could pick out bits of paper that were tucked in the gaps.  Almost immediately I found a ticket to a ladies cotillion from 1898.  The manger of the sale was with us at the time and I offered it to him as a piece of the church's history that should be saved.  He agreed and thanked me for turning it over.

On the wall I noticed several sealed glass vials resting in hangers; part of an ancient fire suppression system.  Foolishly, I asked if I could remove them and was given permission.  There were 3 which I ended up keeping for far too long until finally relinquishing them to the local fire department.  I was informed by one of the firefighters how dangerous the contents were.  I was more fascinated by the design and the mechanism that kept it in its hanger until the heat of flames was supposed to cause a fuse to break and the hanger arms to separate, dropping the thin glass vial on the fire and (hopefully) extinguishing the flames. They could also be thrown at the base of the fire, but I would have still recommended running in the opposite direction rather than use one of these.

Robyn and I made our way to the basement with the manager not far behind. The second we stepped into this dark dank place, we were informed that we could have anything we wanted out of there.  We both began to search as much as the waning light of the day would let us. It was mostly empty with several rusty piles of metal and an old coal bin which looked as though it had just been emptied. I was drawn to a shelf unit sitting, almost floating, in the middle of the basement.  The shelves were empty, but I was curious as to why someone would hang a shelf with a couple of 2" x 4"s on either side.  My eyes followed the boards up to the ceiling to see how they connected.  I noticed that I was now looking at the underside of the kitchen floor above - linoleum and all.  The shelf was actually and old dumb waiter. After the coal bin, I shouldn't have been surprised to find this, but I had never seen one frozen in time and re-purposed.  I saw now that the boards were rails, and I wondered if it still worked.  It was empty, so I lifted it a few inches and then back down.

I was expecting a harder landing than I got, so I inspected underneath, and got the surprise of the century.  It wouldn't have been strange for someone to want to cushion the dumb waiter in case the rope were to break, but I was stunned to find out how long their solution had worked:

Even though a stiff breeze might turn this into dust, I had to take it. Notice the creases where the bottom of the "waiter" waited on it for so many years. This was also what preserved the color for almost a 100 years. The stamp on the book shows it is now 106 (almost to the day). I had no concern for its monetary value, but more for the historical value.  I was living in New Milford, CT at the time and enjoyed leafing through that (4 page) section recognizing several family names which are now familiar streets there. But there wasn't just one phone book cushion:
This one was in a little better shape, yet four months older. The best part was the directions on the inside cover (Click on it for a readable size):
 I wanted to scan a few pages so readers could see how few listings several area towns had.  The telephone would have been more of a luxury than a necessity at the time.  The pages are too fragile to handle, but it is no less amazing how long they were there until Robyn and I came snooping around.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Found something unique? See something here you want to know more about? Start the discussion - I'll respond. Really!