Monday, January 23, 2023

Home Renovation: Time Capsule

I always wanted a black front door. 
And wouldn't you know? I came home one day 
and Uncle Rex had finally made that dream come true. 

My parents did a complete remodel of the house I grew up in during the late 80s, early 90s. Some of my best childhood memories smell like saw dust and stain. Within the walls torn down, they found a lace-up buckskin child’s boot, a calendar from 1919 and a bottle of homemade wine. They still have these three artifacts today.

You can imagine my delight when our contractor began finding things in the walls during our total home renovation in 2021-2022. Weekly he’d set aside treasures that had fallen between the cracks of a floor or along walls: Ornate glass bottles, hair barrettes, playing cards, and handwritten recipes for Washington Pie and Orange Cake. 

He even found a multipage booklet from the Eighth Annual Wayne, Henry and Randolph Counties Agriculture Association event, held in Dalton Township, Wayne County, Indiana on September 6 – 9, 1887. And we were told our house was built in 1920!

I value history, stories, and junk, so naturally, when it was our turn to replace walls I was ready to create our own time capsule of sorts. The way this house was reconstructed, I expect it to stand at least another 150 years, but when someone finally decides this space isn’t suitable for their family, there are a few things we strategically placed for the next occupants to find.

When the internal walls were not yet drywalled we wrote many scriptures along the studs. Just think: if someone does tear down these walls in 150 years, the message within the scriptures we left will not have changed; they’re everlasting. In the dining room I wrote out the words to Surely Goodness And Mercy, a hymn sung before every meal when our large Bowman family gathers.

The contractor's notes at the top of this photo reveal 
where this reminder in scripture was written. 

In a small Rubbermaid tote we collected small pieces that tell the story of our family and the renovation: A current family picture where Caroline was pretty as a doll and Cyrus was scowling at the camera. A 2022 Bell Contracting wall calendar to identify our builder and the current year. I placed copies of Western Wayne News in the box, and these particular issues had my writing in them. We included a sale catalog that provided insight into the breed and type of cattle we raise. I wrote a 3-page letter describing the modifications made to the home, our family, our farm, the current state of the world and the price of gas, groceries and oddities.

I asked each child to put a tiny toy in the box and you would have thought I asked them to donate an arm. It took 6 days for each to decide on what they could part with, which is disturbing considering the number of toys they have. Cyrus committed a tiny tractor with no rear tire and Caroline gave up a tiny foal that was the victim of the lawn mower in 2021. I’m sure the kids who find such “gifts” will be startled by such generosity.

We sealed the tote and the contractor placed it under the landing of the stairway before enclosing it.

Of course, my hope is that this house never comes down and it remains well-loved forever, as it is today. I hope the walls remain strong and white (Who am I kidding? There are already handprints on the door frames as the kids use them to stabilize themselves during high-speed chases), displaying family photos and children’s artwork.

But if they do come down and another family with big dreams decides to renovate this home, at least they’ll have a broken tractor and a three-legged foal to get them through the chaos.