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History Right In Front Of Us

Last night Jodi suggested that we take a walk to the park. It was nice, but Jacob hurt himself when he fell while rollerblading on the way there. Then, he took out his wallet while swinging and forgot to pick it back up before we left. And, it wasn't there when I went back to look for it at no surprise to me. It didn't have anything like money or identification in it, but it did have three pins on it that he recently acquired at a garage sale. He really liked the pins and was upset at their loss. So, maybe just the three of us had a good time and Jacob could have done without it, but I think he learned some good life lessons out of the short trip.

Upon our return, Jodi then suggested that we go down the street to the house on the corner to see if the older couple mowing the lawn knew anything about the owner of the house whose lawn they were mowing. See, an elderly neighbor had told Jodi that our house was built by the father of the man who lived on the corner. Since, we have wanted a chance to get to speak with him to find out more about our house's history. But, we would never get that chance because we never saw him.

The couple we introduced ourselves to, Bob and Sue, told us that the man died a couple months ago and he was Bob's father. She went on to say that Bob's grandfather was a doctor and hadn't built our house but was good friends with the man who did. They also surprised us with the fact that they used to own our house and lived there from 1964 to 1982. On top of that, Bob acquired it from his parents who owned and lived in the house for around 40 years before him. Bob then shocked me with the news that it was his father who had the second floor added on. I asked, "You mean that the second floor isn't original?" He said, "Oh no. It was originally a one story home."

We invited them over to tour the house now since we've changed everything including the floor plan. Only Sue took us up on it, and it was really cool to see her face and her reactions at all that we have done. She couldn't believe how different it looked. She was almost speechless while standing in the kitchen. It turns out that the cabinets, flooring, and wallpaper that we had removed out of the kitchen had actually been their remodeling job back in the sixties. Which led Jodi to bring up what I had found behind the cabinets. You might recall a few blogs back that I mentioned finding a ribbon in perfect condition commemorating a St. Patrick's Day celebration at the Shrine Mosque here in town. I posted a picture of it and here it is again. It turns out that the ribbon belonged to Bob. Sue immediately recognized it as his. It's been 30 years since it fell back behind the cabinet that I tore out. We let her take it with her to give back to him.

I didn't go upstairs with them for the tour, but Jodi and Sue spoke for a while about what Sue remembered about the house. She told Jodi that Bob's mother's bedroom was in our dining room and that she rented out the upstairs bedrooms to college students. She told us that even years after Bob's mother had passed away that students would show up inquiring about renting a room.

Overall, we found out a smorgasbord of interesting facts about our house from her visit. They gave us their phone number so that we could invite them to our centennial party this year for the house. She went away telling us that she would look through her photos and try to find photos of the house. How exciting would that be?

Here are some of the facts that I now know about our house: Our house was built by the same man that built several others on our street in which we can point to. It was a one-story house originally which answers the question about whether or not it was built with electricity. It wasn't. It was also lacking a bathroom which, I think, answers the question what the concrete slab at the back of the property is. It's an outhouse or the foundation for one anyway. I cleared away most of the dirt that was covering it and found the edges. It measures about 3' x 5' and right in the middle on the backside is a circular patch of rough cement. The rest of the slab is relatively smooth. I'm thinking now that it was a slab for an outhouse and when they removed the outhouse building they filled in the hole with cement and just left the slab intact. Since the house was only a single story to begin with it answers the question why the subfloor goes clear underneath the staircase. From the basement stairs, you can see that it looks as if they cut a hole in the subfloor to add the basement staircase. But, I couldn't figure out why they would need to add the stairway when there was an obvious need for one. Well, now I know that there wasn't. The basement, then, had no stairway to it from inside the house. I wonder now if the basement wasn't added later. I've heard that it wasn't uncommon for people to dig out a basement out of their crawlspace. That would certainly answer the question of why the foundation only goes so far and then there is a cement poured ledge all around with the exception of the cinder block retaining wall that separated the basement from the crawl space. When did they start making cinder blocks anyway?

I really look forward to getting to speak with Bob and Sue again. I'll have many more questions for them next time.


Such a neat story to find out so much history about your house! So...whatever happened w/ you voluntarily quitting your job & focusing on remodeling the house?

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