Our New Old House

1918 Bungalow


Distracted by history

This weekend, one of my new friends, Dan, came over to help work on the house. Dan’s a librarian (as I hope to be someday!) and appreciates learning about history through learning about my house. We actually got some work done while Dan was here, but once I started on a project in the basement, we got a little sidetracked. I’ll come back to that.

I can’t believe I’m still working on that first door I started stripping, but I am, and I know how to do it more efficiently the next time around. I didn’t get all the paint off the carved edges with the heat gun so I asked Dan to apply some CitriStrip to the areas where there was still paint around the edges. While he did that, Brandon installed our new gas dryer. The heating element went out on the one my uncle gave us and the belt broke on the one that was in the house when we bought it, so rather than pay just about the same amount to repair either one of those, we bought a new one at Sears. I can’t believe how quiet it is! Brandon did a great job, even getting creative with duct tape to make a different sized vent tube fit the existing vent hole. Red Green would be proud.

Meanwhile, I started work on another round of insulating the basement walls. If you remember at the beginning of winter I put some foam insulation around the cracks in windows and spaces in the foundation. There was a large amount of cloth stuffed into an area of the coal room that I just assumed was to keep the coal dust from traveling into other parts of the house. Well, I was wrong about that (and it was really an assumption made out of laziness. I didn’t want to have to deal with pulling down those rags.) The rags were actually put there originally to keep out drafts. When my sister’s boyfriend came over last weekend, he laughed and pointed out a bad gap in the foundation. “Why would you go to all the trouble of putting foam around the window when you’ve got daylight coming in over the foundation?” Well, that’s what comes of having tall people around to give me better perspective. From his point of view he was seeing a gap several inches wide that was leading directly out to the front yard.


Pretty embarrassing. So this weekend I added to my list another round of insulating.

Here are the rags stuffed into the crack.



As I started pulling them down one by one I realized that these were mostly whole pieces of clothing. They had rips and tears, but were pretty much intact. The first couple of pieces turned out to be a woman’s slips that she’d wear under a dress. I tried to guess from the cut of the slips when they were from. They had that beautiful “on the bias” shape and so I figured they must be from the 30s or 40s. The next pieces I pulled down were baby clothes: a felt jacket with a safety pin still attached, a little girl’s dress sized for a two year old, and a pair of button-up pajamas with an elastic flap in the back for using the toilet. There was a large wrap-around summer dress in a bright red floral print that must have belonged to the mother of the family, and a dirty old pair of jeans that must have been the father’s.

Dirty old jeans:


Mother’s apron (top right) and baby’s felt jacket:


Little girl’s dress:


Little girl’s pajamas:


Father’s boxer shorts:


After I got the clothing down, I unwrapped a water pipe that had been bound in denim and newspaper. To my delight, the newspaper was in excellent condition and was largely intact. There were two dates on the newspaper: 1934 and 1942.



Dan caught me taking a few minutes to read the news from 1934.


After all the fun we had in the basement, we went upstairs to work in slightly warmer conditions. Dan and Brandon scraped wallpaper in the hallway while I wet sanded some of the plaster in the front bedroom.



Also, I scraped another little section of the dining room floor. Inch by inch, we’re getting this house done!

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2 Responses to “Distracted by history”

  1. February 11th, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    Dan says:

    Thanks again, Kelli! I had a fun time. I’ll have to come over again sometime. And great photos! I’ll have to add you as a Flickr contact.

  2. December 2nd, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Nina says:

    I found some neat stuff in my attic after I tore out the walls up there. Some old newspapers and childrens magazines from 1914. A tin toy car from the 20s. http://www.1914craftsman.blogspot.com

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