A Tale of Two Stories (#2)!

Story #2:

The first time that I saw this cottage, it was rather sad looking. Clearly it had not been very well looked after, but it had so much potential and because of its overall condition, I could afford it!

I took possession in 1996 and quickly found out that it was one of many homes in the area, built in 1920 to offer economical homes to soldiers returning from the Great War (WWI).

One of the attractions inside were the doors. They were obviously made of wood, but had so many thick coats of paint from the (then) previous 76 years that while there were signs of some detailed trim, it was rather buried under paint!

This cottage has been an ongoing renovation project and is now, nothing like it was when I bought it, but a lot closer to what it was when originally built.

This past Tuesday presented a golden opportunity to remove the bathroom door; take it outside, and strip the paint right back to the original wood! What stories that door might tell!

Beneath the rather discolored white which we were now used to, was a very distinct mauve. This was estimated applied in the 1970’s, or perhaps the 80’s. Beneath the mauve was a typical builders “standard cream” which I would guess goes back to the 1950’s. Beneath that was a real surprise because there was a very bright orange, and underneath that was wood! Given that door is now 96 years old, and with only 4 coats of paint, I can only guess that the owners for the first 15-20 years were happy with the natural wood finish.

One of the first jobs when I moved in was to have the heating ducts vacuumed out and, to my surprise (and that of the contractor doing the job) there were a large number of 1/8″ diameter lead balls in there! He offeredΒ  the opinion that they were BB Gun pellets. Stripping the door back to the original wood exposed quite a few 1/8″ diameter indentations. Perhaps the door was used for targetΒ  practice?

The trim detailing was quite nice now that the various contours were exposed, but one piece was a distinct bad fit. Removing it showed that it had been broken, but this was all resolved without undue problems and the door was ready for sanding and oiling. What I now have is a fine example of a 96 year old door. Of course there are signs of “wear and tear” but, overall, it is very nice “warm” looking door!

While I was applying a coat of oil to the door, it occurred to me that this whole project had an analogy of befriending an elderly person. They too would carry all the “wear and tear” of their many years, and they too may be totally different to how they appear on the surface. Taking the time and trouble to peel back their layers may really surprise you. Those of you with grandparents could perhaps dwell on these questions. What were they like in their late teens?Β  How did they party? What trouble did they into? Ask Grandpa to describe his first girlfriend! Ask Grandma about her first boyfriend!

We so easily accept the elderly as rather slow moving, set in their ways, always taking naps, and probably criticizing “the youth of today”, but we forget they were young once. They experienced much the same as you and I when we were in our teens/early twenties. They also no doubt had parents who knew nothing!

I just finished peeling back the numerous layers of paint and was surprised to uncover a lovely wood door. If you could peel back the layers of your grandparents (or anybody else), I wonder what surprises you might uncover? Food for thought!

26 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Stories (#2)!

  1. Great, creative story! I totally agree with what you said about the elderly. I personally feel bad for how society views them, treats them, and dismisses them as though they have nothing to offer. They have a lot to offer us if we stop, listen, and actually pay attention to them (as you said, peeling back the layers). I am always saying, we too will be old someday (if we’re lucky and blessed enough-because there is only one alternative). We ALL will be there, so treat others how you want to be treated. Don’t get annoyed or write off older people (that older person will be YOU one day).

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  2. The Creative Colin struck again! Never would have guessed that you had been talking about a door from your first post! I liked how you referred to it as a “warm” looking door πŸ™‚
    Yes Grandparents are wonderful and have a lot of knowledge to pass on! I really appreciate Brad’s grandparents. Mine passed away when I was young, but I do have fond memories of them. Thanks for bringing some “warm” memories of them back again.

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    • Given that I have virtually gutted and rebuilt the interior over the past 20 years, there are so many unanswered questions however, at one point in time, it clearly had some violent activities within its walls. Stripping wallpaper back to the original wall exposes so much!


  3. When I worked we had a older man who worked in the mail room. He was a curmudgeon for sure. I like curmudgeons so over the years I extracted his life story. He was a local top rated chef working at some of the best restaurants. He still cooked for his family and occasionally would cater an event. He was in his mid 70s and if you met him, you would think that he always had low level jobs. That wasn’t true. There are many older people who look for stress-free positions after they retire. They have a lot to offer and great stories to tell. Great analogy. I hoped you would include a picture. I’ve done a lot of renovations and I’m not sure what an “oiled” door would look like after being stripped. Obviously it must look good or you would have repainted it.

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    • An oiled door will tone down the natural wood finish, and add a sheen, but it will also prevent the wood from drying out (we have very dry winters). Perhaps a pic tomorrow? We’ll see! As for your “older man” and his professional past life? I once met a man who simply drove a bus as his job, but was also very highly educated. His explanation was that driving the bus was zero stress, and provided him with enough money to pursue other interests in his free time. You just never know!

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