Adventures in Hoarding #3 Digging for Treasure

The second most frequently asked question I get about my adventure (the first being “Were you nuts?”) is “Did you find anything good?” The answer is yes. And no. Going through Mary’s house was a lot like traveling through a time capsule that had blown up.  While the things we found weren’t particularly valuable, the experience was an education in what people ate, wore, read and thought beginning in the Victorian Age and ending in the early 1980’s.

Like most hoarders, Mary bought compulsively. My husband said that when he was little she would drag him to auctions on the week-end. (I think once he got too big to drag, it stopped) She liked to buy numbered lots that were put up for bid–usually boxes that held one nice thing mixed in with a bunch of crap. And since she never threw anything away we had to dig through a lot of that crap.

This was six or seven weeks into the excavation and only a fraction of what we put aside in the dining room for the auctioneer to pick up.

We also found thirty-eight full bottles of Manischewitz White Grape Creme Concord Wine. Tons of other varieties of liquors as well as empty bottles buried beneath clothes and towels, under the house, under the beds, in the barn and so on. Are you getting the picture? We gave away most of the bottles that hadn’t been opened, but the ones that had been opened posed a problem. I didn’t know what to do with them. At that point, I probably would have drunk them all, if I hadn’t been afraid of what it might do to me.

We learned the hard way that you don’t pour liquor on the ground in the summer. Particularly sweet wines. After a couple of days in the hot sun, the smell was enough to keep away the wildlife. I’m surprised birds weren’t falling out of the sky in a dead drunk.

Other things that we found : twenty-three irons ranging from old-fashioned flat irons to the electric variety, enough bottles of Tabu to make every old lady east of the Mississippi stink smell. Make-up and toiletries that were decades old. Medicine that was decades old. Bottles of Lysol that were so old, they included directions on how to use it as a douche. Eeeeeeeeewwww! Seven refrigerators–that’s an even bigger eeeeeeeeeeeewwww when you consider that five of them were full and only two were working. And hats. Mary loved hats. There was one room upstairs that we called The Hat Room. We didn’t count the hats–I think by then we were tired of counting–but as you can see, there were a number of hat boxes and each contained three or four hats. And, of course, somewhere in all that rubble were the matching accessories.

Hats, purses, shoes, gloves and clothing from the nineteen-forties, fifties and sixties–and vast quantities of miscellaneous stuff. Underneath it all were two beds, a dresser, dressing table and a pot-bellied stove.

Another view of The Hat Room.  As awful as it looks, this room was actually a lot of fun.

Next week I’ll blog about snakes in the barn and how Lynda learned to fly. Everyone have a great week!

Let me know what you think!

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About Diana Douglas

Diana Douglas, author. Coorganizer of the Arizona Novel Writers Workshop. Member Arizona Historical Novel Society, Member BooksGoSocial Authors, Transplanted Texan. http://www.meetup.com/Arizona-Writers-Workshop-com http://twitter.com/#!/themodernscribe
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12 Responses to Adventures in Hoarding #3 Digging for Treasure

  1. I never knew Lysol was ever used for that purpose. That’s scary! What year was the bottle from?
    The hat room does look fun. I bet a vintage clothes fan would go nuts in that pile of stuff.

    • I don’t think they put dates on bottles when that Lysol was sold. I’m guess -50’s or 60’s. Using it as a douche sounds like a really bad idea to me. It ended up in the landfill.

  2. Marcia says:

    I was thinking the same about the vintage clothes. If they were in good shape, well, I might have bought a few things, maybe for costumes. It’s astounding the amount of stuff you ahd to go through! But it looks as though you were really making progress at this point. Looking forward to the next installment!

    • At lot of the clothing was trashed. As you can see, it wasn’t exactly well cared for. The hats were in the best shape because most of them were in hat boxes. We gave so much stuff away–there just wasn’t time to sell all of it.

  3. I can just picture loopy birds from all the booze! Funny! And Lysol as a douche? They really were women-haters back then.

    The hats and clothes would be great for local schools that put on plays…

    Great post, Diana. Keep them coming! 🙂

    • Some of the ads we found in magazines she kept (the oldest was 1938–I think it was Goodhousekeeping) would make most women today cringe. I’ll have to dig up a few and post them. They are unbelievable.

  4. molly says:

    This digging through a hoarder’s time capsule is fascinating stuff, Diana – I’m seriously organised, toss/donate anything extraneous, mainly because it’s time efficient, creates clean lines and passive space, which is restful, but I’m OK with others being disorganised and hoarding – would love to see a few of those ads too, cheers catchul8r molly

  5. Lafemmeroar says:

    I think the accessories from the 40s are interesting. I’m amazed at what she kept over the years including the Lysol …

  6. I keep meaning to research the whole Lysol thing… My knees clamp together everytime I think about it.

  7. hawleywood40 says:

    Yikes! I didn’t know Lysol was ever used as a douche either. That’s just … scary! And 7 fridges – wow! I can barely keep one full …

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