Sunday, January 16, 2005

Ashes to ashes, Dust to dust

Has this door ever been opened?Now I know how an archeologist feels when uncovering people's lives.

While the basement was still dirty I thought it would be good to clean out the ashpit for the wood-burning fireplace. When we made the offer to buy the place, the POs had mentioned that they never opened up the ash cleanout door in the basement. Which probably meant the lady before them hadn't done it either.

So, with my shopvac propped nearby to catch the fallout, I opened the door to find layers of ashes packed flush against it. With shovel in hand, I proceeded to dig through the remains. I filled up an entire contractors garbage bag full of the stuff before I was done, and found a lot of other things too. It's amazing how much of the POs lives had gone down the chute.

Layers packed in the ashchuteDuring our home inspection, the inspector noticed cracked flue tiles up in the chimney. Well, guess where those landed? That's right! There were some very large flue pieces, concrete, and brick about 6-8 inches up. Then, I found the swivel panel that is supposed to go in the fireplace itself. A few more layers of digging revealed.. A metal sculpture of a grasshopper! Still intact! How bizarre, I thought. Little did I know. (We have since discoverd this is a symbol of welcome and was commonly used as a doorstop in the 60's - ed.)

More and more ashes filled up the bag and I actually found some paper that wasn't burned. I shined the flashlight in and saw it was some kind of box. After carefully pulling it out with the shovel, I discovered it was a box for an inflatable penis! "The Emporer"... And the price tag ($64.95) was still on it! I can just imagine the lady trying to burn the box (but of course the high gloss paper doesn't catch on fire easily), and her son comes in. Whoops! Quick lady, just throw it down the ashchute! :)

Layers packed in the ashchute

I tried to take a photo of all the stuff that came out with my cellphone digital camera. Look at the size of those... Clay tiles. yeah. Unfortunately, you can't see the details of The Emporer (far left) due to the crappy resolution. But at least it keeps this website PG.

Now I know why archeologists say that peoples trash is often the best way to put together a picture of their daily lives.


Zinny said...

In regards to the Sunday, January 16, 2005 post entitled "Ashes to ashes, Dust to dust", I was a witness to the discovered treasures. I feel I must complete some of the unanswered questions around the Inflatable Emperor to kill the PG rating. Your search for answers begins and end with the following link.
The object has since cum down in price.
"Enjoy". (wink)

Anonymous said...

Hope you kept that grasshopper .. .. ..

julie said...

In speaking with a long time Chicago resident and a good friend she informed me that the grasshopper was a traditional doorstopper. I believe that grasshoppers where a sign of good luck....someone please feel free to correct me if I am wrong. Dare ya. I'm still not quite sure why it was shoved down the fire shoot, so maybe bad luck, or that death occured in a crawl space in your house Jen????