Well, we stripped the old wood paneling off the walls to see what’s what in there. That particular paneling, blah brown with black grooves somewhat randomly spaced in it, gave me the shivers. If you haven’t figured it out already, I was born in the basement, and never brought up. And that basement where they kept me was a desert of paneling and drop ceiling tiles. So I didn’t know what I’d find underneath the stuff when we encountered the same pattern in my latest basement, but I was more than willing to find out.
We found most everything, as you often do in an old house. When the house got blown-in insulation back in the day, these walls must have been wide open on the inside. The only way to imagine how cold it must have gotten down there in the winter there would be to go outside in February. I try to go outside in February in May. It’s warmer.
So the insulation crew nailed whatever they had handy over the studs to hold in the rock wool. They seemed to have a lot of wooden boxes, and took them apart to get the 1/4″ thick wooden sides to use in lieu of anything expensive. That means the house got insulated before cardboard completely took over for wood in packaging. That would be about the turn of the twentieth century in the rest of the United States, and maybe a few years ago in Maine. All ideas, especially bad ideas, start elsewhere, and only catch on in Maine after everyone everywhere else regards them as vintage, or retro, or passe. I’ve heard disco might eventually gain some traction in the Portland nightclubs, but I’m skeptical.
There was lots of amusing stuff added over the years to patch up holes. Here’s a favorite:
Ugh, there’s that paneling again. Did they only make one color back in 1968, or what? Anyway, a fellow who used to live here in the 1950s and 60s used to fix TVs and radios in this basement. I’ve got pictures around here somewhere, courtesy of one of the long-time residents of this neighborhood. Mr. Tubes had a nifty delivery van in the driveway and a sign on our roof to alert the passersby that he was totally tubular.
Before you all comment on the arctic wintry wasteland we inhabit, I feel it’s incumbent on me to point out that these pictures were taken in early November. It ain’t even winter yet.
I’m far from the first person to use anything they could lay their hands on to do anything they felt needed doing in this place. I found this stapled over a hole under the paneling:
It’s painted on actual canvas, like van Gogh’s Sunflowers, or Dogs Playing Poker, or some other masterpiece. Fancee.
I don’t know who the BLICANs are, but their sign painter gets my vote, anyhow. It’s a daisy.
[To be continued]