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We finally closed on the house on the last day of March, and we kicked off the demolition over my birthday weekend in April. Both sets of parents came into town to work, along with my sister and her then boyfriend, now husband. Some other friends showed up for the fun on Saturday as well. We hauled heavy cast iron pieces to the basement, demolished all the old plumbing lines, the gas lines to the old light fixtures, knob and tube wiring, and wainscoting that was rotting on the walls. M’s mom started up in the attic with a mask, goggles and a shop vac – attacking the piles of pigeon waste and pigeon remains. We even started a bit of the plaster removal. We were filthy, we were tired, but we got a lot done, and not once over the weekend did our parents tell us (out loud) that we were completely nuts. I’m sure they said it all the way home.
The four weekends in May were spent removing the plaster in the house – just the two of us. We wore hot sweaty respirators, knocked it down with crowbars and hammers, swept it up into five gallon buckets and hauled the backbreaking containers to the street where we filled up a twenty yard dumpster in no time with plaster and lath. I could fill the buckets halfway and struggle to carry two, they were that heavy. We wheeled the buckets up on a wheelbarrow for awhile; after the dumpster got too full we were forced to lift and dump. It was absolutely exhausting. Once the dumpster was filled, we had one more second floor room and part of another left to go. So we borrowed a truck and trailer from a friend, purchased several Rubbermaid trashcans, cut the bottoms out and fashioned a chute. This saved an immense amount of time and pain – our rear stairs were near the falling point, and for now, that was the only way down. Every five or so throws down the chute someone had to go out to the trailer and shovel the plaster towards the front. It was so heavy it literally lifted the trailer up off the front wheels. When we hauled it all off we discovered that the total weight of the plaster we removed was 13 tons. When I think sometimes that it might be nice to have the drive and stamina to run a marathon, I just conjure up this feat. We were a great team that month.
In June the framers came in, and it was nice to turn the house over to someone else for a few days. They craned in the lumber, extra long 2×4’s and 2×6’s and several massive pieces for the new stair opening framing. We filled in on the evenings adding miscellaneous blocking, fire blocking, etc. We removed flooring in the new bathroom areas and in the kitchen that had a floor that was past repair. And in our “free time” we plied old, square nails out of the countless linear feet of trim that we had removed, labeled and saved. Most of the heads broke off instantly, so the removal became a game of Operation with a pair of pliers. In the last eight years of tasks on this house, this still remains my least favorite.
I’ll clean up pigeon cr*p any day over that.
Volume 1 is here.