Thursday, April 5, 2012

Treasures and Time Capsules



Over the years in the old farmstead we found many treasures and time capsules...from the road signs used randomly in construction and repair, to little notes written with fading pencil on the back of a board removed for home repairs.

The house was built with lathe and horse hair plaster walls and ceilings, and any foray into tearing some of it out for a project, no matter how small, resulted in a dusty mess consisting of a big pile of debris.




My latent archeology genes kicked in every time I saw my husband approach a project with a hammer and a crowbar!

“Remember...” I would begin...and he would roll his eyes and finish my sentence, “...keep everything from the wall! I know! I know!”

Over the years, I carefully sifted through many piles of that rubble. Sometimes the treasure was found on the back of a board removed in the project. Often the faint pencil marks were just dimensions from a handyman in years past trying to measure twice and cut once. Sometimes a random date would be written: November 12 or April or 1952. A few boards had messages. ‘Still kicking’ was one such communication from the past; another was quite firmly inscribed, ‘FINALLY!’

Before my husband replaced the board, I often tried to add my own message...excited about the prospect of someone, someday reading my words added to the previous ones. On a board from a door frame I wrote an entire little biography of my young family and what I knew of the house. In my mind I can still imagine someone’s excitement when they pulled that board away from the wall. I can envision hearing them say, “Oh, look, look! This was written in 1986! Did you know...?”

The gold coin filled walls I fantasized about never materialized in the old farmstead, but once in awhile I would catch a glint or gleam of something metal in the pile of plaster and rescue a random dime or penny. The most money I ever found was a quarter...just one and rubbed almost smooth from years of use. A small silver ring with yearning, empty prongs was discovered another day. Perhaps it had been a perfect diamond or ruby. Or perhaps it had sparkled with a cheap rhinestone. The stone was never found. I rescued a baby shoe. Just one. And in excellent repair. I can picture a young mother frantically searching to find the missing shoe to dress her child. A small stash of old amber glass whiskey bottles was discovered under a loose floor board in the attic...maybe the carpenter who had been nagged enough to complete a project and had penciled that triumphant ‘FINALLY!’, celebrated privately with a long pull of burning liquid while leaning against the wall in the smoke-scented, dust-moted quiet attic air.


We found a postcard or two and the cover of a book. There was an old, crumbled up tobacco pouch and several shredded letters.

I put all the treasures and time capsules into a wooden box I had found in the rafters of the barn. I wrote where and how we had found them in a little journal that I placed in the box as well. It was quite a collection.

When we moved, I debated...leave the box or take the box.

Part of me wanted to cling to all the memories they contained both from history and personally.

I left the box.

On the day I said goodbye to the house, I took out the quarter, and the baby shoe, the naked, sad little ring and one glinting, amber whiskey bottle. I looked at the objects for a while and then finally put them back in the box. They weren’t really mine after all.

At the last second before I wedged the box in under the eaves, I changed my mind and pulled out the whiskey bottle. I wrapped it up in a rag and stuffed into the top of a box in the back of the U-Haul truck in my driveway.





...
...

It has taken me a long time to make peace with the circumstances and life changes that caused me to leave my beloved farmstead.

It has taken me a long time to be able to write about those days.

But now that I finally can, I touch the smooth amber surface of that whiskey bottle and I think to myself, ‘FINALLY!’

FINALLY! I have found a way to hang on to all the treasures and time capsules of a place that captured my heart.

This little memory is written in honor of the letter "T" for Alphabe-Thursday. T is for treasures and time capsules.



To read other 'T' offerings, just click here


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36 comments:

Maggie said...

Another lovely chapter from your Farmhouse series which I enjoyed very much.
I wonder if anyone has found your time capsule yet?

Erika said...

What a touching story. In this time of uncertainty I am sure that are a lot of people that feel as you do. I hope they have been able to face the future and let go of the past as you have.

Sue said...

And now I am so glad you are able to share them with us. Thanks, Jenny!

=)

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

I loved this one Jenny, beautifully written, simply lovely.

I left a message in my walls for future generations that was quite obscene and had to do with my contractor...

tee hee. I'll tell you about it sometime...

hah!

xxoo,

RMW

Linda @ A La Carte said...

Jenny your word memories move me and make me want more! Hugs, Linda

Nezzy said...

Awwww, thank you for sharin' your 'treasures' with us today.

Sweetie, you are the real treasure here!

God bless and enjoy your day!!! :o)

ellen b. said...

How good to come to the place to be able to write about your treasures and to have peace. Blessings...

Karen S. said...

Oh I too know that deep heart sickening and yet most straightforward (honest) and necessary soulful thing of saying good-bye....

Viki said...

I'm in deep love with your last line.

Cheryl D. said...

This post is perfection! What a wonderful ode to a time in your life that had such memories!

I have a theory on the one baby shoe you found. I don't think it was lost. I think it was placed in the wall on purpose. Years and years and years ago, it was a custom to put one shoe in the wall of a house as it was being built (or even repaired). It was thought to bring good luck!

Ms Sparrow said...

It's so delicious discovering secrets from the past. I've been a fan since I read "Nancy Drew and the Secret in the Old Attic"!

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

Soooo...I came back again to say that I too have finally found a way to hang on to the treasures in my life that have been misplaced. I read that last paragraph again and again and again and it held such truth for me... Thanks, sweetie, you rock!

xxoo,

RMW

Lmkazmierczak said...

My mother, who lived into her nineties, always reminisced about our farmhouse days. Her treasures kept her spry, full of warmth, and keen with wisdom and life's observations. Thanks for sharing your slice of life♫

Riet said...

What a lovely story.
Thank you for your sweet words and prayers Jenny. I appriciated them very much and I am sure it all helped.
Riet

Willoughby said...

I absolutely loved this post! So sweet and thoughtful.

I can soooo identify with treasure hunting in the walls and floors of an old house. Our house was built in the 1860's, so I was hoping to find some wonderful things when we renovated (right down to the studs). Unfortunately, we didn't find much; an empty pill bottle, some old sewing needles and a few other things. We uncovered a few old items in the yard when we dug out the grass to install our pool, too.

Emille said...

Horse hair plaster walls?? Asked hubby Carpenter if he knew about that, and looked at me if it was time to bring me to the psychiatric hospital. My only defense was YOUR blogpost!

Gattina said...

This farmhouse seems to be a very important part of your life !
That's also some kind of treasure.

Ms. A said...

I adore your farmhouse stories! I wouldn't have been able to leave those treasures behind... unless I was dead and had no choice!

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

Back in the late 70's or early 80's my neighbor's sister bought a fixer upper in Richmond, VA. It was in an area where people were just starting to go in and restore the old homes. They lived in the home for about a year and decided to paint the linen closet. There on the top shelf were boxes and inside was cash...lots of it. (It was a very tall closet and impossible to see the boxes without a ladder to get up there.) Anyway, they counted money way into the early hours of the morning and I believe it was something close to $300,000. The house had been owned by a bail bondsman who had died suddenly. To make a long story short...they contacted a lawyer and returned the money to his widow and received a $30,000 reward. My neighbor said things had to be negotiated like who would pay the taxes. They felt it was the right thing to let the widow have the money.

So, you were right about looking. You just never know.

Ian said...

I am new to this series but I was immediately captivated by the story. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

JDaniel4's Mom said...

Now I want to crawl into our crawl spaces and record memories.

Paige said...

So fun to find old treasures! Thank you so much for visiting and commenting on my blog! I love having new visitors, so these link ups are fun!

Pat Tillett said...

What a great and interesting story Jenny! There used to be a show on HGTV called If Walls Could Talk. Maybe it's still on TV, I don't know. Anyway, this subject is exactly what the show was about.

Naperville Now said...

wonderful, Jenny. loved every word.

anitamombanita said...

What can I sat that I haven't said before with each unfolding of the wonders to the old farmhouse. Loved it!

noexcuses said...

I just love the way you open the doors to your past and share with us bits and pieces of your fabulous world.

Anglers Rest said...

A lovely piece. I agree with Cheryl, those items, or at least some of them were consciously placed with the structure of the property. I wrote about this here - http://anglersrest.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/curious-customs.html

Our house is late Victorian. We founds bits in this house too, bits of newspaper, which we too have saved & have archived. I understand the dilemma, wanting to keep the treasures, yet feeling guilty in doing so. I live the whole scenario, of the items in a old wooden box & journal to record the items.

I might join this thread thus week. Have a nice Easter.

H said...

It's a wrench leaving a place we love so much. I hope someone finds your time capsule and treasures it like you did.

Kara said...

I love your stories about the old house so much. I lived in an old house also and we found all sorts of treasures as well. The best thing we ever found was a complete program from an old West type of circus. It was from the 1800's and in very good repair.

Gail said...

A wonderful piece.

Mrs. Adventure said...

I love reading your memories… I hope to one day (soon) buy our first old farm… hopefully there will be memories tucked away for me to find.

Amy said...

Oh Jenny, so beautifully written! I am so glad you were able to find peace finally. And I am glad you kept the whiskey bottle. Having just something from your sweet house is a sweet connection.

karen@somewhatquirky said...

Thanks for a wonderful story. I am sorry that you were not able to stay in this wonderful place but I'm glad you have come to peace with the circumstances surrounding leaving. I'm glad you took the bottle. I try always to take something from the homes I have lived in. I have a collection of ceiling light covers hanging in my dining room from each of the home I have lived in. They are precious to me (of course I really love junk). Thank you for hosting this get together and investing so much of yourself in it.
Karen

edenhills said...

What a wonderful tale of treasures. I'm so glad you've found a way to hang onto and share those memories. I'm certainly honored to read them.

Esther Joy said...

I caught myself saying a lot of "mmmmmmh's" and "aawwhhh's" as I identified with your feelings in reading this post. After losing his mother and his aunt almost 4 years ago, we are finally at peace about going through some of their things that we had put off because it was too difficult... I laughed about your finally deciding to take the whiskey bottle, thinking of the blackberry brandy bottle my husband and I found!

upinthecosmos said...

Great write Jenny! I love the little treasures in life:-)