Friday, 21 January 2011

My Own Personal Time Capsule

As today is a random post day, I thought I'd share something that I and my family did this past summer. My family used to run a general store. In fact, when my grandparents closed up shop in 1989, it had been in my family for 76 years. This summer, prior to selling the building, we had to clear it out. Of course going through the accumulations of over 100 years (the store had actually been in operation since 1892) is an exciting task for any vintage and antique lover. This, however, would be something even better.

You see, this particular store was one of those with an upper floor that had an extra storage room and also a room where the family had a bed in case of bad weather and kitchen and table where meals could be eaten. By 1953, my grandfather had taken over the store from his father and decided to begin some renovations. One of these included taking out the big staircase that led to the upper floor in order to make more selling space.

My 6 year old father left for school that morning after eating breakfast at the upstairs table. When he returned, the staircase was gone and the hole sealed completely. My grandfather had always said that there were still things up there and my dad knew that there must be as they didn't have time to carry things down and do all that work in the time it took him to get home from school.
So last July, my dad, my mom, and I, along with a couple of our friends climbed to the top of the roof, unsealed and unboarded the back upstairs window...the only entrance left after 1953. What we stepped into was a REAL time capsule.

Here is my dad standing at the window about to step into the rooms that neither he nor anyone else had been in for 57 years.

The room whose window we came in through had been the storage room...and it was full of stuff. Old boxes full of old papers. Ledgers from the 1890's to the early 1950's. Old advertising materials. Racks and merchandise holders.

There was 60+ years of dust on everything, but having been kept dry and protected, many of the items looked almost brand new once the dust was brushed away.

The front room was the best though. As we walked through the doorway, you could see the bed...completely made. My great grand-uncle and grandfather's coats were still hanging on a hook with the hunting licenses still pinned on from the late '40s as though they had been hung there moments before we walked in.

Of course, mice had gotten to lots of things...and, as is their habit, they went for the fabric first. I was able to save a few aprons for remnants as well as a couple of scarves probably from the around the '30s. I also found an old dress, probably my great grandmother's or her sister in law's from the late '30s-early '40s which was in good enough condition that I can at least trace a pattern from it. I've decided to make a copy of it once I find similar fabric.

I can't describe what it was like to walk into a room that no one else had seen for over a half a century. Especially as the last people to walk there were my dad's family, all of whom are gone now except for him.

We worked through the day, lowering things bucket after bucket out the window. We even used ropes to bring the bed and a massive bread display down. A couple of weeks later, we went back with some extra help and got the old display cases out.
We had a huge antique auction and everything went....except for a few boxes that we left in the rooms for whoever goes up there next, maybe 50 years from now.


  1. What a great story, that must have been an amazing experience to see it all.

  2. wow! this is an amazing story, thanks so much for sharing...i'm envious my family don't have any super awesome time capsule ROOMS..great photos :)

  3. Oooooh thank you for sharing this story with us! It literally gave me the shivers with excitement as I read on and viewed the photos! What FUN it must have been to be there! Just started blogging again after a couple years off. Will be happy to check in on your blog often! Warmly, Jen

  4. The best thing was that my grandfather had always said he was sure there were parts of a soda fountain up there. We found them. Crates with the name and address of the man who had built the store in 1892. They contained the soda pumps which were still in the original excelsior. Plus the metal cup holders and full bottles of 'mix' for strawberry, pineapple, tomato, and even clam (yuck!) drinks!

  5. wow great story :)

    just to let you know, i found you through 'and your cowboy mouth'
    you have a lovely blog, look forward to seeing more

    krystal x