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Fun house things

Pete and I went to the Lackawanna (new term for when you don't want to do anything) County Historical Society on Saturday. I had had too much coffee and was feeling too zippy and uncomfortable to be any sort of use to the operation, but I tried. We explained what we wanted to do, which was basically find out how old our house actually is, since we were told it was 1940, but some of it seems older than that. 
We checked the "phone" book from the 40's, and found three heads of household living there. The books were neat, because they weren't really phone books, since not everyone had a phone for quite some time after they became a thing. So what they were, really, were people directories. If you knew their name, you could look them up and get their occupation (!) and their address, and if you knew the address, you could get the names of the heads of household that were living there. It was super neat. 

So we took the maps back to 1898, and the area we live in was just empty lots. Then the next year they have maps for, 1918, bam, there's the house. The owner at that time was A.L. Derry, and there was a book that the society had that was a sort of Who's Who in Scranton. But the best part was that it was by subscription, so you essentially bought a space and then wrote your own bio and sent it in to be published. So they were these glowing, effusive reviews of their lives, that said things like, "Through hard work and effort, Mr. Derry became the esteemed president of the A.L. Derry Company", and, helpfully, "Mr. Derry purchased a lot and built the family home at 442 Colfax Avenue in 1900". YES! Success! So our house is 40 years older than we were led to believe. Mr. Derry also started his professional career as a breaker boy, which was a terrible, horrible job for young kids in coal mines. They tended the mules, worked the coal cars, and sorted the coal as it was loaded for transport. They frequently lost fingers, broke bones, and were about 8 years old. Most pictures of coal mining around here have a few breaker boys in the picture, looking all David Copperfield, smudged and sad. 

As far as we can tell, it stayed a single family until the 30's, when it was made into a two family, and then in the 40's, a third head of household shows up in the book, when they finished the attic and made it a three family. 

Notable job descriptions in the book include a huckster and a governess. Could you imagine listing that as a job description? It's fantastic. 

Interesting people that lived in our house included Mr. Derry, who owned a company in the first office building in Scranton, that still stands today. Mr. Derry's son inherited the house after he died, and I think it was him that made it a two family. We had a radio announcer for WARM, the president of the Scranton Pants Manufacturing Company, a retired couple, and the Assistant Manager of Furniture at a department store. Lots of miners in the book, too, as one would imagine.

And on Wednesday, Pete took down a piece of broken tile in the bathroom, and behind it found a piece of crumpled newspaper. It's amazing how many ways newspaper seems to have fit into the lives of people doing renovations or improvements to their houses over the years. From the newspaper, I could date the carpet on the second floor to 1982, and in the basement, someone used newspaper as a backing for the plaster they put up. That dates to whenever Czechoslovakia got its first postage stamp, according to the article, god knows when that was. The newspaper Pete found had a scrap of an article on it, about the Nazis and the Russians, and it was dated from 1946. My guess is that someone made it home from the war, and got married and bought our house, and then built the back addition to house a mother-in-law. We have to go back and pore through the books to figure out when that fourth apartment gets occupied, and by whom. That date also jives with the age of the big stove, and the style of the kitchen with the copper tiles in it. 

Fun! House history is a good time. 

What a great post....

About being religious and loving others. Read the post full of responses, too, if you have the time. 



We voted for the first time in PA yesterday. I relied heavily on online sources to pick my candidates, and our polling place was the pleasant Everhart Museum, right on the other side of our block. 


The thing is, our ballots were 198 and 199 respectively, and we went at like, 7pm. Everyone I asked at work had no idea about the candidates and didn't plan on voting. I posted a link on FB to a site (vote411.org) that tells you everything you'd want to know about every candidate in your area and lets you print out a completed ballot with all of the positions, their salaries, and who you want to vote for. 


And yet in a discussion I had on FB, someone had the nerve to tell me that voting should be easier. Election Day should be on Saturday, they should come visit you while you're at home, they could just forge your name, etc. Okay, not that ridiculous, but pretty freaking ridiculous. To me, there is nothing more important than voting. They call it a civic duty, but it's a right. And people say, Meh, I don't vote. Like it's some sort of thing they just don't do, like drink. To which I say...If you don't vote, you can't complain. 

But it's just a local election! Yeah, and? The school board, elected officials, educate your children, plan the budget, distribute the money you pay in taxes. Your mayor, determines how your money gets spent or not spent, helps dictate what services you do and don't get in your town. Countless other "unimportant" local figures determine your everyday life. Even the highway superintendent determines whether or not that pothole that annoys you gets fixed. 

And that's just the beginning. The people you elect on a local level, if they're serious, good at their jobs, and people keep voting for them, they get other people into office. They hire their peers, the recommend people for office, they get running mates. People like them. Do you like them? No? Vote them out. Contact them, tell them your concerns. Complain, start a group, find a candidate you like, nominate someone. 

Those people you didn't care about on a local level? That judge you didn't bother voting for? They get MORE POWERFUL. They graduate from the small town leagues to the city leagues to county and state level. And from there? Then they go to Washington D.C.. Then they have real power. And they're far away from you, the voter. Influenced by a lot of other factors, motivated by different things, distant from the people affected by the things they pass into law. Did you stop communicating with them? Did you stop supporting them? Do you feel that they're not listening to you, or acting in your best interests? 

Are you pissed about the bailout, about unemployment, about Liberals, Conservatives, Republicans, Democrats? Are you happy with how things are? Do you pay taxes, do you not pay taxes? Do you think everyone else should pay more, or pay less? Do you support the Tea Party, OWS, NPR, Planned Parenthood, more education, less education, unions, capitalism, or anything else? Do you think we're on the right track, or going to hell in a handbasket? 

Did you vote? 


I have a very dear friend named Sean Hamrock, who went to college for art, specifically photography. He managed to make it out to the house to help us out on one of the days I had a dumpster. He was invaluable, especially since he was the only person that weekend that came out to help us, and I am forever grateful to him for his help.

Not being one to miss a photographic opportunity, he took a picture of our living room mid-cleanup. This was the day that we took up the awful, menstrual-red carpet and found the evil green padding/dust underneath it. The stuff came up in chunks, alternating flaking and just turning to dust. It got everywhere, and we ended up scooping it up with snow shovels, because everything else we tried was useless.

So Sean decides to set a challenge for himself to post a picture every day on his website, and I finally get around to looking at it. Lo and behold, there's my living room, as the banner to the page. It might be just that the picture was at hand and rather wide-framed, but I can't tell you how unbelievably flattered I was to see it there. Whenever I find myself feeling like we're not making any progress, I can look at that and feel like I've gotten someplace. Please go look, if only to see his beautiful pictures.



I was just reading offbeatbride, and came upon a nontraditional vows article. I love this.

Love by Roy Croft
I love you
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.
I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.
I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can't help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find
I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern
But a temple.
Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.
I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good.
And more than any fate
Could have done
To make me happy.
You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself.

Old house, New House

Oh, the boxes.



Okay, so usually, the person I want to sell to the mob in that icon is Pete, but today it's my father. We didn't agree on politics for a long time, but during the course of my business education (strangely enough), somewhere along the way I became fiscally conservative, anti-union, and several other things usually reserved for the designation of Republican.

Just now, I went over to his office after reading the pro-choice newsletter, and posed a question to him. Why is it that neither party seems willing to concede that what they really need is some common fucking sense? If someone stood up and said, I'm for shrinking the government, paying off the deficit, women's reproductive rights, and gay marriage, they'd get elected. At least, I think so. I don't think that anyone needs to be FOR any of these social issues, just please don't be against them. Unless you have a uterus, I do not believe that you need pick a side. Unless you're gay and want to get married, you don't get to pick. Basically, straight men should really not have a say in either of these two issues. I get that the pro-lifers don't want public funds going to "babykilling". I get that. That's fine. I don't either. But then you have to go ahead and drop the religious facade and educate people about birth control. One or the other. Sex ed or abortions. Pick one.  

Sometimes it seems to me that the Democrats are spending all of their time flailing their hands for social issues and completely ignoring anything having to do with money. And on the other side, the Republicans are holding onto their wallets with both hands and just saying no to anything that has to do with people. Seriously, you guys? Please, work together. Is this kindergarten, where you pick a color and refuse to work with others? I don't think so. It's almost as though they don't realize that working together gets more done, and compromise gets more done. Lessons we learn early in life seem to fly right out of the window of their new office when they get elected.

I'm significantly less angry about it now, guess I'm calming down. That doesn't make me less annoyed with the whole thing. Actually, I was just reading an article in The Economist about campaign funding, and how the Supreme Court decided that it's totally fine for ghost organizations to fund campaigns under different names. You know what I think? I think if you take your rights as a voting American seriously, you'll do your damn homework and find out who's giving money to the people you're electing, that's what I think.

Is it SO MUCH to ask for people to take responsibility for things? Is it?