Lately, my evenings and weekends have been filled with non-carving matters, including tending to the needs of our house that was built in 1905. When Kristin and I bought it in 1996, the same year we were married, we became the third owners of this humble place in our hometown then in need of a good dose of TLC. We entered in with little money, but plenty of DIY enthusiasm and enough ignorance to maintain our confidence. Little by little, we’ve gotten to know this house by working on it and living in it, and it continues to surprise us with hidden quirks.
Two became four and we’ve shared a lot of memories in this house. Once in a while the house reminds me it needs some more attention. I kick and scream a bit, then get to work. This week, as I was working in the cellar, by the stone foundation in need of re-pointing, I found a piece from a cigar box stamped with the words “Old Virginia Cheroots — Medium” (top photo).
Now, as much as I had been trying to maintain a positive attitude, I was not in a good frame of mind. In fact, I probably looked a bit crazed, covered with grime, dust, cobwebs and a scowl. Thoughts of condominiums kept passing through my mind. Oddly enough, that little scrap of cigar box encouraged me. I guess it was a small reminder that the house has a long memory and I’m just part of the story.
The first owners of this house were William and Minnie Fisher (no relation). William owned a cigar store downtown and did some horse dealing on the side. Our little town was growing then, and business was booming. William often donated free cigars to various celebrations.
Greenville Evening Record, April 14, 1916. There you have it, a good five cent cigar.
After William’s death in 1932, Minnie lived here quietly, one might assume, except for one morning in 1939 when she was rudely awakened. I can see her now jumping up, looking out my bedroom window, only to see a dump truck just below, where the front porch had been:
Greenville Record Argus, June 28, 1939
The front porch was rebuilt. There it is yesterday afternoon.
After Minnie died in 1949, the house was purchased by V. Spencer and Pansy Goodreds. Spencer was a professor of Literature and Theater at Thiel College here in Greenville. Pansy was involved in Thiel affairs and hosted sorority gatherings at the house:
Greenville Record Argus, Dec. 14, 1949
We never had the pleasure of meeting Pansy. She lived here alone for nearly twenty years after Spencer died and then moved, in her nineties, to live near her son in another state. I’m writing this now, almost exactly seventy years after that Christmas party, in front of a fire in that same fireplace. But not a sorority girl in sight.
So I’ll make the best of re-pointing the cellar walls, but I think that job and some others can be spread out. The little garage where Pansy parked her old Ford is now my workshop, and I’ll make some time for the bowls and spoons in there calling me.
Note: These clips came from our local Greenville newspaper, which, thankfully, is still being published daily. The archives of ours and many other newspapers are fully searchable at NEWSPAPERARCHIVE. It’s a great resource.