A Sentimental Junker’s Dream

I recently had a reader find a picture of a gift I made using the wood I found in this story.  He reached out because the company printed on the wood was his family’s company.  It reminded me how powerful things that connect us to our family can be.  This story, originally shared over three years ago, was such a beautiful day for me.  And maybe, suggests that my love for junk was always in my blood.

Since there are so many new friends and readers here, I thought I would share it again.

These are my Paternal Grandparents.

I never met them, they died years before I was born.

grandparents

This is the house in Connecticut that my Grandfather built bit by bit for a summer cottage for their family.

Last Sunday, we (me, hubby, sister, girls and Dad) went up there.

I had not been since I was a kid.

Doesn’t seem too bad from the front.

soccer and CT House 128

But, unfortunately, this is the back.

soccer and CT House 130

Although my Dad spent years trying to maintain it, after a certain point it reached a point of no return.

Many many years ago, he rented it to someone who pretty much wrecked the place.

He had him legally removed since he wouldn’t leave on his own, but several more times he came back and stripped the place of anything he could.

Now, the town is requiring my father to take it down because of understandable liability reasons.

So we came with work gloves, tools and a trailer to take home as much as we could.

Look at the wood used for these walls.

It is cough drop crates taken apart.

Those came home with us.

soccer and CT House 132

This is one of three door my Grandfather built.

One was destroyed by water damage, one is in pretty good shape, but this one is still stunning and it is hard to believe it was built in the early 40’s.

soccer and CT House 134

This is my Dad showing us the spring that my Grandfather built, by hand without equipment.  That cement was all hand mixed and poured and part of a complete water system he created that is surprisingly pretty much still intact.

To hear him talking about all of it with such pride was priceless.

soccer and CT House 139

The woods and the stream on the property are so lovely.

The girls came ready to work, but in the end they did exactly what I had hoped and exactly what I used to do when I was child there.

soccer and CT House 159

They climbed on logs, explored the woods, climbed the banks and even built a boat out debris to float down the creek.

soccer and CT House 204

They were dirty, disheveled and happy as can be.

soccer and CT House 222

This is the porch that my Dad helped build.

soccer and CT House 190

So much of the house was beyond salvage but this wall is one that we went for since the wood was so beautiful.

Imagine my incredible delight as we began pulling off the boards to find that many of them still had the printing from old crates on them.

soccer and CT House 192

Turns out my Grandfather built this house piece by piece.  He worked for a newsstand company.  When one was knocked down, he would take the wood and bring it here.

He would trade cigarettes for crates at the old A&P grocery store.

He would pull the crates apart, even saving and re-using the nails, and used them for the wood on the walls.

It was like he left us a gift.

My sister and I had such anticipation with each board we pulled off to see what would be on the other side.

And, maybe this explains my “junking sensibilities”.

Maybe it is something genetic, who knows?

One of the reasons I love “old” stuff is because the stories and the history behind them, in my opinion, make them even more interesting.

Add sentimental value to it and it is even better.

soccer and CT House 226

The ceiling of the porch was stunning, but in order to get any of it, the whole porch roof would have had to come down and everything was too unstable.

To have taken any of it home, although my Dad and hubby sure tried, would have just been beyond our abilities and just too dangerous.

So, a picture of the beautiful texture is what I took away instead.

As the day started to close, I found myself feeling sad.  It seemed kind of silly, I haven’t been here since I was kid and I never even met my Grandparents.

But it is still my history, and it is certainly my Dad’s history.  He spent his childhood summers here.

soccer and CT House 279

As we were leaving I asked him if he was sad.

He said at this point he is so looking forward to the relief of the burden of worrying about something happening there.  After all of these years, he is finally ready to let it go.  The house will be knocked down in the next few weeks and he will put the land on the market.

The good news is that the neighbors came down while we were there and they may be interested in buying the property.

In the end, we left with a lot.

Some “stuff” that will made into new “treasures” for our family.

But, mostly great memories of a day with our Dad, a better understanding of our family history and new memories of a house that had been so long neglected.

soccer and CT House 287

Oh yeah, and as you can see, height does not run in my family!

Update: a few weeks later my Dad showed up with a whole bunch of wood from the porch ceiling.  He was there when they tore it down and brought the pieces he could to me.  He knows the way straight to my heart.

Another Update – If you would like to see what we have made so far with what we brought home with us..

Wood Pumpkins

Wood Reindeer

Wood Whale

And the tree that brought it all back together – Handmade Gifts

Thanks for reading!

Quickpen-Signature_edited-1

About Finding Home

Welcome to Finding Home Farms where we share our favorite DIY and decorating ideas and inspiration. We believe your home should be a reflection of you and your family. Our blog is the story of our journey - and what we find along the way. Thanks for joining us!

Leave Us A Comment

44 thoughts on “A Sentimental Junker’s Dream”

Comments

  1. Oh my what a wonderful treasure you have found. Each piece, each board, tells a story of days gone by. Such an awesome treasure and wonderful memories to share. Do you think you’ll ever build a cottage on that property?

    I love the pieces of crates…what are you going to create with them? I am sure you will find some fantastic to do with them!

    It’s great that your Dad can relive the moments with you and that you have great family memories to pass down to your children and their children and so on.

    Hug your family and cherish the memories!

    Hugs,
    Natalie

  2. just remembered to tell you I saw at a antique store this weekend…they took a cedar shake shingle and around the center of it they tied a piece of rusty wire and a piece of scrim and then tied on a small skinny taper candle. Hope you can picture it in your mind.

    You could also remove the shake shingles and do a small wall in your home or frame them in a large picture frame as a wall statement.

    Hugs,
    Natalie

  3. What a wonderful story, thank you for sharing with us.
    It so reminded me of my family’s little lake cabin where we spent our summers and had the best times of our lives. Unfortunately we had to sell the cabin and land after my dad passed away and it broke my heart to find out the new owners were going to tear it down to build a big house. We also had a lovely rock wall garden where we buried all of our pets, I felt like we were abandoning them. I still can’t bring myself to even visit that particular lake.

  4. What treasures you uncovered as you took each board down. I’m glad you were able to salvage some so you can re-use them. I’m also glad you got to take some photos of the beautiful cabin before it is gone.

  5. Wow ! What a great adventure for your children and memories are always fun to go back and relive . So sad it has fallin in , but I too would be saving pieces from it as your grandfather did to build it . What history it has . Love this !
    Deb

  6. A treasured childhood memory , now a treasured time spent with your beloved family! Grandpa would be proud that his house that was built with love was taken down with love ! xo

  7. That is so great that you got to do that! I can imagine that it was pretty bittersweet for your family. My grandpa and his dad built his house and he lived in it until he passed. There are things in that house that I wish I would have taken and I pray that the owners that have lived in it didn’t destroy them. But I am left with wonderful memories that no one can destroy. 🙂
    Loved this post my friend.
    xoxox

  8. Such a sweet story. I miss my Grandparents so much. I miss their house and even their smells. I know exactly how special ” little found treasures” mean to someone. Thank you for sharing.

  9. This post is so touching to me. My mom owns my great-grandparents’ home they built by hand (a wonderful old craftsman style 2-story)–it’s untouched, needs some TLC–which it totally doable, and I ~love~ it! So much history, like your grandparent’s home. I’m glad your father enjoyed it, and tried to save it. And I’m so glad you saved what you could from it. Old homes and objects, especially those with sentimental value, are definitely worth saving!

  10. What wonderful memories. Sometimes when I go to visit my parents, I wonder off the beaten path by the place that my grandparents used to live. It is nothing now, like it was then, but the memories are there, wishing I had some treasures from their old place like you have found there. What a wonderful way to spend your time w/ family.

  11. I have tears in my eyes reading your story………..this story made my heart feel glad, so beautiful to know how you will be able to preserve the memories…and the work your grandfather put into making his house…………I just know that your grandparents would be so proud of what you are doing and they are smiling down on you………….

  12. Thanks so much for sharing these family memories with us. I can feel the care and pride your granddad took in building his house. I am so glad you were able to rescue parts of it and give them a new home.

  13. What a shame that it was destroyed but at least you have memories and remnants of the wonderful cottage. I can’t understand the mentality of anyone who would destroy something that does not belong to them. Oh well, are you going to rebuild on that property? I’m looking forward to seeing what you are going to do with your treasures.

  14. While it must have been sad to see this part of your childhood memories in such a shambles it warms my heart to see how you turned it in to a family day and were able to salvage so much.

  15. Oh my – I had not read this post before today and it made me get tears in my eyes. So, so precious. What fun to have all that wood. I love the tree you made!

  16. As a military family that is always moving and doesn’t have the “roots” that your family does, your story touched my heart. I know it must mean a lot to your father that you all went out to the house together as 3 generations and built a new beautiful memory there.

  17. Great story! I agree, best part of the old “junk” is the stories and yours is a priceless, personal family treasure! I would have loved to have been there when you discovered the wall boards were old crates- what a treasure! Of course, your father’s memories are even more so!

  18. Beautiful story, thank you for sharing this. Many are experiencing a time in life where grandparents and parents are passing. Last year we went through my paternal grandparents home trying to decide what to keep, what to give away so their home could be sold. It was a very modest home that was built when they moved to sunny Florida from New Jersey. The things I took home with me were small and maybe insignificant to others but bring with them memories of the times I was able to travel to visit them. Blessings,

  19. yes, I’ve read this story before but I loved reading it again. I feel the same way about having that connection to the past. It’s always a good thing to have happy memories too and a few treasures to go along with those memories. Oh, also, how fortunate you are to have that great picture of your grandparents. Thanks for sharing again.

  20. I love this story of your grandfather’s house and how you rescued all the beautiful old boards from it. It’s amazing that the walls were made of old wood packing boxes. Re-using was so the thing in the 30’s and 40’s before our modern throw-away era came into being. These are priceless treasures to you and I am one that appreciates them as well. Thanks for sharing this post again. Pamela

  21. I feel like you could be a great friend in “real life”. Love that you appreciate the little things in life; salvaging a little history with your family; your girls enjoying the outdoors and the property of their great grandparents and truly finding home through adventures with your family. Well done.

  22. What a beautiful piece of personal history (and a memory I’m sure your daughters will treasure), Laura, which in turn sparked some wonderful memories for me. Thank you, Ardith

  23. What a wonderful story of times when we didn’t require such large homes and they didn’t need to be refreshed every few years. I realize that bloggers continually require new material to write about but there are times when I find it all too much.

    Good luck on your new ventures and adventures.

  24. This story is so wonderful in so many ways, I don’t even know where to begin. The photo of your dad in front of the house – speaks so much louder than his comment of feeling free of the liability (although I don’t doubt his statement one bit). The gift of the wood brought to you – absolutely priceless. All the things you’ve made of the wood since – so beautiful (I would buy ANY of them just to have a piece of your story, although I doubt you’d sell them). And the gifts your husband made you – so much love all in one place. {sigh} Your girls sharing the experience can’t be beat, and the photo of your grandparents – so full of the era I love! I even wrote a post of Flappers (today!). I think you perhaps favor your paternal grandmother in looks! Oh, and the guy who contacted you – so many good things about this post – I love it! Have a great week!
    Rita C at Panoply

  25. I loved the stories. That is often the best part of the blogs I read. What a treasure for your family to spend a day together and hear your Dad’s stories.

  26. What a wonderful, heartwarming story. Even not knowing your grandparents, you have a wonderful insight about your Grandfather. No doubt your shared appreciation for re-using and re-purposing is a genetic trait!! Happily, your children also have ‘a memory’ of their Great-Grandparents, and that is a true gift. Thank you for sharing this truly wonderful occasion.

  27. Such a sweet story! We went through my grandmother’s house when I was back in Texas visiting during the holidays this year. So many memories!

    I actually found your blog when I was researching the Snap Conference… are you going this year?