Mattie’s Place Discovered

December 27, 2010

I found my calling. A historian. Or collector of junk, whichever way you look at it.

Carthage, Texas, is the least likely place to find authentic artifacts, but it goes like this. Pa purchased 11 acres adjacent to the pine cabin he built on his 100 acres. The new purchase has 3 old constructions on it. One, a nineteenth-century wooden house. The sound of Pa’s tractor and brushhog resound behind me as he proceeds to level the overgrown brush. No one has been inside the dilapidated building in many decades, which tempts me to make my way through the overgrown vines and up the rickety stairs.

The floors are sound and the roof has held out the rain. Tossed, half empty, boxes, trampled rags, and electrical wiring, nuts and bolts cover the floor of the two rooms. Pa is intent on destroying the old building, and I want to see if anything is salvageable.

I stumble through the debris and overturned boxes, discovering half-eaten letters among the mouse-made confetti. At this point, I get a little nervous. It dawns on me I could disturb a mouse family and I start to withdraw, but I hear Pa’s tractor and know the contents in this long-ago home have been given one last chance at divulging its secrets.

I collect a stack of faded sepia photos of someone’s grandparents. I stack up an assortment of 1930’s Christmas cards scattered around the floor. I discover a box of documents, handwritten letters, Depression bank statements. Buttons, a chipped china tea cup, a mason jar. At this point, I don’t know if anything valuable exists, but I wonder who lived here, why they left, and who were these sweet children holding their mama’s hand?

So my expedition of the day results in two large bags of damp, half-chewed refuse. Not bad for an amateur sleuth. Or a crazy lady.

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