HouseThis house in Monson MA is rumored to have been the town’s first elementary school and because the town predates the Revolutionary War nary a floor is level.  The original structure had only two rooms whose blackboard walls are now hidden by layer upon layer of wallpaper.  From this simple dwelling, my ancestors added two bedrooms, an indoor bath, a kitchen, covered patio and small television room.  The room to the left was probably built by my great-grandfather as storage for his three children (two of whom are in the above picture along with a girl identified as only “My cousin Myrtie.”)  Because the toddler in the picture is my grandmother, born 1899, I figure this picture dates from the early 1900s.  The original deed is handwritten.


Receipt for the house on Main Street

Here’s the same house on Main Street in a photo probably taken in 1910 after they added the porch :


This porch (now screened in) overlooks a boulder-filled creek where as children we played for hours, always within shoutin’ distance of Gram.  The last time I visited, the untended blackberry vines choking the creek and newly constructed storage facility on the other side stole all hope of a return to what once was.  Nonetheless, the house’s eventual slip from our fingers still stings.

SignatureI know that, in the end, old houses and photos are just stuff, stuff our children probably won’t give a hoot about, stuff that will end up either in a garbage dump or in some moldy basement, pages stuck together, edges eaten by rats.  I’ve accepted that eventuality however for some insane reason I decided to go through the five million boxes of unorganized STUFF I rescued from my mother’s house.  If you’ve ever had to clean out grandma’s house and go through her stuff then you’re probably thinking what an idiot I am. And I admit, it is exhausting, unrewarding work that has kept me from blogging, writing, exercising and cleaning house.  But every now and then I’ll find something which might be mildly interesting to the kids. Know what it is?


14 thoughts on “STUFF

    1. I may send some of the things I’ve found to the Monson historical society. At least I know they will have some interest!

  1. A dance card! I’ve never seen one either. Very cool. This post hits home as we’re currently in the process of cleaning out my mom’s house–she’s selling it and moving to a condo–and are finding all kinds of old family memorabilia. Some, unfortunately, just can’t be kept, but other things are so cool that my siblings and I (and our kids) are hanging onto it, even though we really don’t have space for it. On one hand, we’re telling our mom that it’s just “stuff”–she’s having a very hard time saying goodbye to much of it–but on the other hand, it’s the stuff of our history, and I think it’s important to save some.

    1. Yes, my house is becoming stuffed to the gills with stuff! Good luck with your mom’s stuff – perhaps we can get together someday, pat ourselves on the back and take a celebratory toast!

  2. A dance card! Yep, I’m old enough to have used one, first at the Mary Benschoff School of Dance (14-year-olds), where we were taught the fox trot, the waltz and dance etiquette, and where boys were first told about deodorant.

    Going through Mother’s things was both painful and delightful. It took years, little by little, but it was worth it. And yes, lots of STUFF.

    1. I can see where it would take years! My mother’s not particularly a packrat so I expect a lot of what I found actually belonged to my grandmother.

  3. I get rid of stuff all the time. When my time comes, there probably won’t be much to sort through. I’ve vowed to build a Tiny House on my family’s property in MT, and it will necessitate doing away with much. Your post is timely though in that I am going to be visiting family next week and plan on scanning a ton of old black and white photos. Despite the digital age, I still keep photo albums and love sorting through pictures.

  4. I love the idea of a tiny house and less stuff to worry about! Wouldn’t that be lovely… Best of luck with the family visits!

  5. I just keep stuffing my closet with what my wife calls clutter. But, I tend to think of it this way. When I move on to the bigger closet in the sky, I’ll have even more room, meanwhile she’ll inherit all my earthly hidden treasures from my closet down here. I can see her saying it now, Jan; “So that’s where my old yearbook and the other car keys went!” :O)

    1. The big old closet in the sky, hey? Sounds like the title of a song. My kids I’m sure will hire the garbage company to come in and take everything away!

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