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