October 25, 2021
Reflections, Day 17
“You summed it up so well, the way we step into the roles of those who went before us, season by season, like hand me down clothes.”—K.C. Weller
The Evening and the Morning
For the past couple of weeks I have had the privilege of working on the back and side yards of this house on Coral Avenue in Rome, Ga. that is under reconstruction.
As I was finishing the job, Colyn and his father Sean gave Dekie and me a guided tour of the project. Sean is somewhat of a historian and we got background lessons as he showed us the amazing quality and quantity of work that is going into the project.
In 2005, the house, which stands in a beautiful historic neighborhood, burned slap to the ground. Sean said that the fire was caused by a Tiki torch that had turned over on an upstairs porch. There was little left of the house but charred and burnt 2x4s. The house had been a bed and breakfast and someone died in the fire. It was a terrible tragedy.
The house stood there for several years and then the property was sold for taxes at the last minute as a bulldozer was headed to the property. A couple of people made a halfway try at rebuilding but they gave up. Colyn and Sean showed up a couple of years ago and they are doing a fantastic restoration. The house was built in 1890. Sean showed us the historical details that have been restored—lots of oak, lots of trim, lots of perfectly cut molding. He walked toward the back of the drawing room and proudly opened the door to the kitchen. He said, “From the living room of 1890 we enter into the kitchen of 2021.” The kitchen is amazing.
After the tour, Sean picked up a “core” or a piece of concrete that is lifted by a fancy drill to check the integrity of the foundation. He showed me striations in the core and noted that not many drill bits would penetrate the lower part.
He pointed down toward the river on the other side of the road. “Concrete was new to the area and when they needed sand aggregate, they would back a mule and wagon down to the river’s edge and dig the sand one shovel at the time.” This would have been in 1890. I got a firm picture in my mind of that wagon and the river sand.
You see, last year I read an excellent book by Ken Follet about life in England during the 1990s. When the stone artisans need sand for their cathedrals, guess what they did?
They backed their wagons down to the river and loaded the sand one shovel full at a time. I smiled as I realized that the same process existed a thousand years later.
The title of Follet’s book is The Evening and the Morning.
The concept applied at the beginning of the middle ages and it applied again when the house was built right before the 20th century began.
Things changed quickly as the new century roared in. Colyn told me that the original owner had one of the first automobiles in the town. As we talked, a train whistle blew and I looked up to see a vapor trail from a jet plane in the sky.
Sean and Colyn are assets to the community. The house is for sale and they will be happy to show it to you.