Attic Archaeology

Recently, I spent a morning exploring the attic at Fish Hooks. Though my expedition revealed little of material worth, it uncovered many items that, in terms of family history, are priceless.

The attic (site of our future master bedroom)

The attic (site of our future master bedroom)

I found at least four bed frames (reminders that this cozy cottage once housed a family of five), and a dining table and several other small tables that I’m told were hand-made by Pa Herman and my grandfather, Lionel Albury.

While I don’t know the origin of the wooden dining chairs I discovered, I do recall them from my childhood visits, and old photos show they’ve been in the family for nearly 70 years.

There’s a suitcase stuffed with sheets, towels and curtains, and though most are yellowed and crumbling, I’m hoping a few pieces may be salvageable.

Beneath a mismatched assortment of plates, cups and glasses, I came across a lovely (and seemingly complete) set of vintage Grindley English china.

China Set

I found a weathered old cutting board and rusty scales, likely used by Pa Herman to clean and weigh the fish he sold. And the collection of tools I discovered – saws, a hammer, a pick axe, a wood plane – were no doubt used to build this house.

Pa Herman's scales

Pa Herman’s scales

Among my favourite finds were a battered, dog-eared children’s “West Indian Reader,” twenty-five years’ worth of electric bill receipts dating back to the 1950s, and what I imagine was Ma May’s version of a junk drawer – a soup tureen filled with the miscellany of life: a single marble, half a dozen rusty keys, light bulbs, loose buttons, bobby pins, a red plastic toy rabbit and (no surprise) tiny weights and fish hooks.

West Indian Reader

West Indian Reader

Decades' worth of electric receipts.

Decades’ worth of electric receipts.

I couldn’t help but smile at the dozens of greeting cards sent to Pa Herman and Ma May by their children and, later, their grandchildren. Such simple and universal items, but sweet reminders of those who lived in and loved this house before us.

Greeting cards from the 1940s and 1950s.

Greeting cards from the 1940s and 1950s.

Many of my attic discoveries are worn, rusted or beyond use. These, we’ll restore and display or donate to the Albert Lowe Museum.

Happily, other items, like the bed frames and Pa Herman’s tables, can definitely be reused. There’s a set of gorgeous mahogany bedposts that I hope we can incorporate into a four-poster bed, and a wooden settee which, with some spiffy new cushions, will fit perfectly in Fish Hooks’ tiny living room. Once repaired, those ancient wood dining chairs will find new life in our kitchen, and the galvanized buckets in which we kids used to bathe before the house had running water might make pretty planters or perhaps ice buckets.

But the slop buckets we used rather than trekking to the outhouse in the middle of the night? Those I can gladly live without.

Related Posts:

We’ve Hooked the Small One

Fish Hooks Update – The Inspection

And Then There Were These

  14 comments for “Attic Archaeology

  1. linda wall
    July 25, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    what treasures you found in the attic! it’s very special that you can reuse or repurpose some of the items. hey, those slop buckets could be planters!! i love the look of those vintage cards- maybe some sort of decoupage on a holiday box of some sort

    • July 25, 2013 at 4:38 pm

      Yes, Linda, we’re happy to be able to reuse so many of the items, partly because they’re (mostly) original to the house and partly because they’ll be day-to-day reminders of my great-grandparents. Truth be told, I probably will repurpose those slop buckets as planters — but they’ll be stationed as far away from the house as possible. Too many memories…. 🙂 Still trying to decide what to do with the cards, but definitely some sort of display. I must have two or three dozen of them!

  2. Patti
    July 25, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Amanda, this is a wonderful journal of your past. And now, it’s like the house is giving you back gifts from your past. It gives me chills to think of you finding items that your remember from your childhood, but being able to put them back in the cottage living area where they belong, to create new memories. Love your journal!

    • July 25, 2013 at 4:53 pm

      Patti, thanks for your kind words. It was so great to be up in the attic, surrounded by things I know my great-grandparents made and used. The attic still smells exactly the way it did when I was a child. I’m told it’s the scent of Abaco pine. Whatever it is, I love it! Amazing how many memories scent can trigger.

  3. July 28, 2013 at 8:24 am

    This is great! I love finding old nic nacs and small treasures…family history is great!

    • July 29, 2013 at 10:39 am

      Thanks, MzDezy. Yes, family history is fascinating to me. Glad to hear others are interested, too!

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