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MORNING STAR • SEPTEMBER 4 - 10, 2008

Home scene of hard work and fun, both then and now Our back porch is gone. The old room, whose rafters were held to YNN ARKS the rest of the house with large, square-cut nails, has been disasWhen my husband sembled piece by piece and exists ripped out the back porch now only in our memories. Hooray! While I admit to some floor, he discovered a sadness in seeing the old structure brick- and cement-lined being torn down, its absence is room, sunken about 2 feet largely a relief. Its replacement, with insulated windows and a pasinto the earth. sive solar heating system, will be a huge improvement. My husband and I made several discov- for the farm family that lived here, a family that we understand included nine chileries during the demolition, which started dren. I’m sure that when that snug dairy in earnest last weekend and ended, approwas put in, the homeowners were as proud priately, on Labor Day, when my husband of it as we will be of our new room. pulled the last rafter from the main house. And then, when we pulled the asbestos First was those huge, square-cut nails, residing off the south-facing side of the back ally spikes, that were holding up the rafters. We have found these spikes in oth- porch, we saw that the original siding, clapboard everyplace else, was verticallyer parts of the house, a building that we aligned tongue-and-groove boards in the think predates the Civil War, but we were triangular section between the ceiling surprised to learn that the back porch was beam and the roof line. This on a house that old. We had thought that perhaps it that had always appeared to be just about was newer construction. business, all function and no fancy. With the back porch gone, we can see It wasn’t elaborate gingerbread, it wasthat the framing of the main house is held n’t even painted a different color. It was together through a series of mortises and simply a small statement that here, even tenons, notches and tabs cut into the where mortise and tenon were daily havboards so that they all fit snugly together. ing to put shoulder to the grindstone, there In one spot, where my husband thinks the could be some fun. original carpenter made a mistake and cut I wonder what people, tearing out our a mortise where it didn’t belong, the gap construction for new a hundred years from is filled with three solid wooden pegs, now, will think about what we have done. each about an inch and a half in diameter. I hope that they marvel at our innovative My husband found, nestled in a corner technology, just as we have marveled at where framing and floor beam meet, a the earlier dairy. And I hope they apprecinest. What kind of animal once lived ate, in addition to the work that went into there, I don’t like to think about. But my the construction, the fun that went into it, fondness for the mother, even if she did too. There was the time that my shorts, a have whiskers and a long tail, grew when I saw that she had used a baby’s sock, still little bit too big and with the elastic worn white, and a pair of little boy’s underwear, out, slipped down around my knees. The time that my husband, trying to hold up a size 4, to cushion her nest. rafter that proved to be too much for him, Our two most interesting finds, I think, tumbled to the ground. And the several speak to the people who once lived here. times that, even though there were no When my husband ripped out the back porch floor, he discovered a brick- and ce- more walls to inhibit our conversation, my husband walked to the back door and ment-lined room, sunken about 2 feet into stuck his head out before talking to me. the earth. We had known that there was So far, it has truly been a grand experisomething back there that previous owners ence. That is the message that we will be called a dairy, but we thought that it was sending all who go by when we put up, nothing more than a hole in the ground. somewhere, in contrast to the sedate clapNow we know that keeping their food, inboard, some fancy, vertically-laid, tonguecluding milk, cool was serious business and-groove siding.

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