How would you feel about finding a 77-year-old newspaper under the flooring in your apartment?
It took my breath away. I hadn’t even intended to remove that piece of linoleum for awhile, because it was protecting the hardwood in the landing, which takes a daily beating and gets a lot of stuff drug across it.
But, I had to remove the ancient linoleum (there was actually 2 layers of it) so that I could remove the last piece of lovely decorative trim in order to completely expose the plaster and lath that I have to remove to expose the stud walls.
Early in the week, I was using a scoop shovel to remove that linoleum and the plaster that I had already scraped down onto it from the ceiling. Yep. An old aluminum grain shovel that I swiped from the feed room at the farm. It works wonderfully for scooping up the chunks of plaster that I have been scraping off the walls. I took a giant scoop of plaster and linoleum, heaved it over into the heavy plastic tote I’m using to transport all of the trash down the stairs and into the trailer, and there it was…
A Kansas City Star from March 28, 1943, opened up and laid flat, the grooves and grain of the hardwood floor forever impressed into its pages.
It was really delicate. Soft and brittle at the same time. I folded it up as best I could and carried it downstairs into the sunlight where I could see it better.
Germany suffered its first major defeat of the war in 1943. Two years later, World War II would end. That was so long ago.
I cannot describe how I felt reading this paper. In my mind, I became a mother, raising children and keeping a house during a war with no husband by my side, no word from him in months, only the reportings on Allied movements coming from the front, probably weeks old, to hold my hope aloft.
I would love to know more about the person who put that newspaper under their shiny new linoleum. Were they wondering who would eventually find it? Did they even imagine it could be a woman, doing most of the work herself to renovate the space?
Farmer also found some old stuff on Saturday underneath the steps leading out onto the roof. Some old rubber balls…soccer ball and football…so children had been here before; my girls’ noise isn’t the first to fill the building. And a swizzle stick from a restaurant/bar in Chicago. It’s green and has a skull at the stirring end.
I worked on making forward progress on the demolition throughout the week, a little at a time. Then I had Casey there with me on Saturday afternoon, and we made huge progress in there working together. While I stripped plaster off the walls and ceilings with my improvised scraper (I heated up the blade of a garden hoe and straightened it out; the handle is much longer than the tile scraper in my tool arsenal), he was tearing out the thin doorway wall to the bathroom and the wall around the toilet and getting the toilet out of there. It was nice to have him there to help me haul the heavy totes of plaster down those stairs.
There are 24 steps. I’m a “counter.” Weird, I know. I don’t always count, but when you are going up and down repeatedly and your muscles are screaming and your lungs are burning, it helps knowing you’re only 3 steps from the top. It keeps you moving.
Together, we loaded my little trailer to its weight limit with a giant heaping pile of plaster. It was most of the worst part of the demo process. After this week, I only have one small ceiling and one wall of plaster to scrape down and haul out.
I also have about 250 pieces of lath to de-nail and find a place to store. There will be a lot more lath after I finish exposing the stud walls next week. We use the lath a lot in projects with salvaged wood. We make a lot of signs, and they look amazing when we use lath to frame in the wood.
I had my buddy Dave help me remove the sink from the kitchen today (Sunday). I didn’t have any pipe wrenches with me, and I needed the sink out so that I could finish stripping the wall behind it down to the studs. We discussed, based on how the ancient plumbing was routed and the changes made in the building over the decades, whether my dreams for the new bathroom will work or not. You’ll have to stay tuned, because I’m sure plans will change but it will all work out.
This is the quintissential marathon. The proverbial war. A thing to not treat like a race or a battle. It’s a long-term project that I’ll only complete by working at it over and over and over. I get dirty. Two showers a day dirty. My forehead is scratched from wiping plaster dust off of it. My shoulders are sore from wielding a crowbar to beat lath off the wall and from using the long scraper over my head. My butt, well, I won’t tell you what it feels like from climbing and descending 24 stairs a hundred times this past week while carrying heavy things. I’m going to be shedding my ‘winter layer’ in a hurry, which is a great thing haha!
Watch my Week 1 Recap and drop a comment here; tell me your favorite thing about this project so far!