We have now lived in our funky old Southside Birmingham home on the side of Red Mountain for fifteen years. Built in 1920, our ninety-eight-year-old ‘Chez Gainey’ is a special place, one that has seen a lot of change and a lot of history happen in what is known as ‘The Magic City’ during that time.
Always something to do for an old house, much to Mr. MacKenzie’s delight…
I have been obsessed with all things old since I was a little girl. Those around me may see a decrepit money pit; I, however, see potential and history, and dreams come true- a connection to the past. Give me hardwood floors, claw foot tubs, leaded glass, old stone walls, and beds of flowers planted in days gone by, and I am one happy gal.
One of my favorite things about living in our home is what I find in the Alabama red clay as I work in the yard. Over the years I have found buttons and marbles (I call them little hello’s from my mom), blue glass medicine bottles, a metal toy gun, a doll, car batteries (!!), corroded nails and screws, odds and ends, and tons of glass from when the house burned about twenty-five years ago, all bubbling up through the clay from storms, or from things like the huge plumbing project we had done recently.
A marble I found on Mother’s Day…
Just yesterday while picking up some things in the side yard where the earth is still turned up from the plumbing work, I saw something interesting poking up through the clay and pulled it out of its resting place of many years…
Some of my friends think it is the topper to an iron fence or gate?
When things like this happen I hold the piece in my hand and feel it, wishing so much that it could tell me its stories, share the history of who lived here before us, and before them, and before them, all the way back to 1920. Each and every thing is a part of this place we love and call home. Perhaps someday someone will be working in the yard and find a dog tag, or an old tool of Dan’s; our own little addition to this home’s history (along with a huge amount of sweat equity…).
One of my friends had the most wonderful thing to say about these treasures:
“I think it (and everything else you’ve found) is a gift from the heart of your home, for taking such wonderful care of her. Pieces of the past, emerging so your hands can trace the same lines that have been traced by her previous caretakers. One step more to tie you alltogether, past and present.”
Wow. Thank you, Beth- what a wonderful sentiment. That is exactly what I will always think of when I find these buried treasures and as we work so hard and with such joy on this funky old home year after year, until we hand it over lovingly to the next people fortunate enough to live on the side of Red Mountain and be caretakers of our Chez Gainey.