Tag Archives: history

What’s in the News?

Old houses are mysterious places, filled with stories and history and artifacts and memories of all the residents who have ever called that house a home.  Sometimes those mysteries are in plain sight, easy to see, easy to decipher.  Other times houses hide their history under layers of paint and wallpaper, or inside walls, or under floors, only to be discovered when renovations are in full swing.

We’ve all surely read stories of homeowners finding jewels or money hidden under floors or in spider-web covered attics. People find household items and tools that were accidentally dropped inside unreachable crevices during building or renovation.  Occasionally lucky homeowners discover old photographs and letters that were intentionally left inside a wall by previous residents who knew that someday someone would be tearing into that wall as their family grew.

We have done our share of renovations at Brown Road, but so far have not found a hefty bundle of cash inside any walls. Our contractor did pull a small, seemingly handmade hammer out of the inside of a wall during one stage of our construction and we found a picture of two young girls that appeared to be from the late 60’s or early 70’s. More recently we began updating my son’s bedroom. Under layers of carpet and linoleum type flooring, we discovered a section of the floor that had been insulated with layers of newspaper. We had known it was there from pulling up corners of the carpeting years ago to see what the wood floors looked like, but it was only now that we finally began to update this particular room.

These newspapers were Chicago Tribunes, from various dates in 1949.  They were in amazingly good condition, preserved under layers of flooring and there were probably at least one hundred pages to look through.  There were so many fascinating things to share, but in the interest of brevity, I picked just a few interesting items and photographed them to share below.

Some Headlines:


From the sports page… YES, that would be the BROOKLYN Dodgers.

In entertainment… Danny Thomas at the Chez-Paree.

and Al Jolson singing in “black-face” would be frowned upon today.

Before the bailouts, when Detroit was KING!

Back from the war? You can own one of these town houses for only $190 down!

For you ladies, here’s some fancy Gabardine suits for only $39.95!

and for Mom and Dad, keep your baby Dry and Comfy.

I could have gone on and on, there were so many interesting and unique articles and photographs and advertisements.

So, I won’t encourage you to go tear up some old flooring or punch some holes in your walls.   But, you never know what might be hiding inside your house!

 

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My house smiled at me today…

My house smiled at me today. I didn’t actually see her smile, but I know she did. We’ve just had her painted, and I know that she feels good when we take care of her. Her old bare and peeling soffits and trim and window frames and siding are tightly sealed up, caulked and primed and painted. Her wooden sections all match once again, the old and the new, the worn and the fresh, all the same cream color, subtly contrasting with her century old brick façade. A shiny new coat of green paint covers both of her outside doors, a splash of color worn like a spring scarf. Her roof is new as of last fall, the upside of an aggressive hail storm that ripped through our area, and resulted in a rash of insurance claims and a windfall of business to the local roofing contractors.

I stood in front of her today and I told her she looked beautiful and she smiled at me. I didn’t actually see her smile, but I know she did. She smiled because she now knows and trusts me as her caretaker of the last sixteen years. She smiled because she now knows that I have been willing to put my own blood and sweat and money into keeping her solid and beautiful. She smiled because she knows me now as she has known all of her caretakers before me, likely dozens of men and women and even children who have cared enough about her to keep her structurally strong and vibrant and standing proudly for over 120 years. She smiled at me because I told her she looked beautiful.

I do believe that I am her caretaker. Yes, she is the house that protects us from the elements. Yes, she is the place where my family has made sixteen years worth of incredible memories. Yes, she is the only home my two children have ever known and likely will know until they move out on their own. Yes, she is the place where my family has shared smiles and tears, hugs and fights, ups and downs. Yes, she is the place where we have celebrated the miracle of babies born and mourned the deaths of those who have left us. Yes, she is the place where birthdays and anniversaries and holidays have been celebrated. Yes, she is the place that has made us feel content and warm and safe for sixteen years and hopefully many more decades to come.

Yes, she is all of those things and for that I consider myself immensely blessed. But she is also so much more. She is a piece of history that harkens back to the days before automobiles and electricity and indoor plumbing were prevalent. She is a reminder of where we came from, a time when houses were built on the backs of strong men with a meager assortment of hand tools, yet possessing incredible craftsmanship skills. She is a reminder of a time when rural living and one room schoolhouses and fresh food and hard work reigned supreme. She is our personal museum and I am her caretaker and I take that responsibility seriously.

My house smiled at me today. I didn’t actually see her smile, but I know she did. Someday, she will have a new caretaker, and a new one after that and on and on and on. For now though, I am her caretaker and I will continue to do my part to make sure she is still standing proudly for many more wonderful years to come. If I am lucky, down the road, when my wife and I are old and gray and feeble, we will still be able to stand in front of her and tell her that she looks beautiful. I hope that she smiles at us then as well… and perhaps even says “thank you.”

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