Cleaning out the old house has been on our to-do list since Reagan was in the White House. I knew it would take a lot of time. I knew most of the junk in the space was junk, but as we all know there is often some treasure in the trash.
Soon after moving here in 1980, the entire family began using that space for storage. When I started keeping bees earlier this year, it became obvious that I needed a space to build hives, harvest honey, and organize my beekeeping tools. That’s when cleaning the old house became a priority.
Jilda’s parents were the original packrats. Later, when we built our house in December of 1983, we had tons of stuff in our trailer that we didn’t want to put in our “new” home. Old dishes, Hurricane glasses from a trip to New Orleans in the summer of 1980, and other stuff.
There were books, clothes, fixtures, and furniture that wouldn’t work in the new place. We put them in the old house temporarily. We had every intention of having a giant yard sale and using the proceeds to go on vacation. That didn’t happen.
Later, Jilda’s brother used the place to store old chairs, lamps, and beds. Soon, his kids needed a place to store stuff too. These last few years, the old house became so full of junk that it was difficult to walk through it.
I had time this week to get started going through years of “I may need that someday” stuff.
Raking through the front room, I found boxes of stuff that Jilda’s folks had stored there. There were church bulletins, pamphlets, and appliances that were broken way beyond repair. There was a radio that did not have an FM dial.
There was one box in the corner that I pulled out to the porch. I wanted to make sure I didn’t pull out a slumbering rattlesnake. There were no reptiles in there, but down close to the bottom, I found an old quilt.
When I pulled it out, it was stained and tattered around the edges. I held it over the side of the porch and shook out the dust and debris.
Finishing up for the day, I gently folded the quilt and took it back to the house. Once Jilda got home from work, I showed it to her. Tears welled up in her eyes.
Jilda remembered the quilt from her childhood. She thought her grandmother had given it to one of the other grandchildren before she died.
Jilda’s grandparents were poor but resourceful. Her grandmother Mamie had made the quilt from scraps of cloth from old feed sacks. It was beautiful at one time, but time and mice had tattered much of the old quilt. Jilda held it like it was an ancient artifact. To her, it was an artifact.
She placed the quilt on the deck table and examined it carefully. The very center of the old quilt was in perfect condition and was still beautiful. She took her scissors and gently cut out a section from the middle.
She smiled as she restitched the edges. I wasn’t sure what plans she had for the “Mamie Square,” but we have a small table behind the loveseat. She took all the things off the table, placed the tiny quilt in the center, and placed everything back on the table.
It will take a while to sift through years of junk. I just hope we find a few more pieces of hidden treasure like the “Mamie Square.”
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book, “Life Goes On,” is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at email@example.com.