Sunday, November 29, 2009

Buried Treasure

Yesterday we got a call from a friend, an attorney, who recently represented a client in a real-estate transaction. The deal involved a house, just a few blocks from us, that the buyer intends to tear down.

The house itself is a bit of a mess. It's been through a fire and is only partially covered with damaged asphalt siding. There are plywood boards where the windows used to be. The pantry is filled with mouse traps. I always lament the loss of a house, but this one may be easier to say good-bye to than some. If there's such a thing as a house being 'totaled,' where the cost of repair would far outweigh the value of the structure, this may be one of those cases. Plus the buyer, Mr. Morales, seems like an upright guy. He lives next door and knew the occupants of the house for decades. He told us the previous owner is now in a nursing home and doing pretty well.

Demolition plans for the building are imminent, but Mr. Morales seems to hate the idea of all the contents of the house (there were piles and piles left behind) going to waste. He's painstakingly culled all the items of either utilitarian or sentimental value and set them aside. Then he invited in our friend Mike, the attorney, to come and take what he could use. And Mike, naturally, called us to join him.

We spent yesterday morning combing through all three floors of the house, seeking out whatever treasures might be squirreled away. The previous owner was a master seamstress and possibly a quilter, and she had countless shelves filled with fabric, thread, elastic remnants, needles, straight pins, lace, rick-rack, and bobbins. I ended up with this beauty, which will be passed on to my 9-year-old niece, who's expressed interest sewing.

John salvaged a collection of polka records, and we had to reach way back into a storage area to purloin this enamel coffee pot, which we plan to use as an ice bucket. It wasn't this pristine when we found it, but it sure cleaned up nice.

We'll save the amazing bikes until they've had some work and are road-ready.

It felt sort of ghoulish to be going through all that household effluvia, piling up our hearts' desires, especially when John came across a high-school student ID for the owner's son, who likely grew up there. But we also felt we were doing our parts to protect and honor some of the history of that he house and the family who called it home. We will ride and listen and sew and drink a little better because they were here.


tracy said...

I am all kinds of envious. Enjoy your new-found treasures--you're good to give them a second life.

leslie said...

How COOL. I can't wait to see the bikes.