Discarded and Found – A Tale of Three Homes
1622 Springfield Avenue, Pennsauken, New Jersey, was our first home. We made settlement in February, 1972. We were 22 and bought our first home for $22,500. The agent that sold us our home also had a mortgage company and he held our mortgage. He also held Larry’s parents mortgage, and because he knew the family, he assured us that if we ever got into trouble, we need only to make our interest payments, and catch up on the principle when we were out of trouble.
We were young, we both worked, and knew we had time to work on the home to make it our own, before the children came. The first project was ripping out the old kitchen and putting in the new. Larry and his father took on this three month project at night and on weekends. My memory does not recollect how long I went without a kitchen sink and had one spoon and one glass that were washed in the “barbershop” sink in our one and only bathroom. (Today barbershop sinks are known as “pedestal” sinks.)
The kitchen went from what would now be called a “vintage” kitchen to modern – with everything that went with the early 1970’s color palette of autumn gold, orange and avocado green. Our new cabinets were a rich walnut color, the sink and refrigerator were autumn gold, the wallpaper was a crisscross plaid of yellow, orange and green with daises and the floor was yellow linoleum. Our new refrigerator was white and “pre-owned,” and was given to us by Larry’s boss. Larry did such a great job of spray painting it autumn gold – to match the new sink – he even darkened the edges just as if it were store bought.
And what of the old cabinets that were taken out? I don’t know – but one single metal kitchen cabinet was taken to the basement to hang above the washer and dryer to be used as a laundry cabinet – repurposed and re-used.
When we moved to our “move-up” home in 1978, the newly designed and built tract house had the laundry room on the first floor, as you came into the house from the driveway. Because we now had two small children, I thought the better use of that space was to be a playroom; therefore, the decision was made to put the washer and dryer in the basement. Not a big deal, I had gone to the basement for six years to do laundry, I could carry on that tradition. For whatever reason, we took the old kitchen cabinet/repurposed laundry cabinet that we hung in the basement with us to hang over the washer/dryer in our new home’s basement.
September 1992 we moved into my “dream” home. It was a dream home, because I never dreamed I would live in such a beautiful home. No thought was given to the kitchen cabinet/repurposed laundry cabinet when we moved. Why would I? Where would I think I would need it or put it? The new laundry room was on the second floor with the bedrooms and I had built in cabinets for folded laundry and shelving above the washer and dryer – I had arrived!
A few years ago, I was doing my favorite pastime – shopping at a yard sale. There was someone in the community that had three major yards sales a year and filled up her very huge front and side yards with stuff. There was something lying on her lawn that made my heart skip a beat. It was, I believed with everything in me, my kitchen cabinet/repurposed laundry cabinet. I was sure of it because that cabinet was the beginning of my decorating sensibilities. The cabinet was white metal and we did live with our old kitchen for almost a year, before we ripped it out. To pretty up the metal cabinets I bought decals to put on them. Today we would call it giving them style.
My immediate reaction was all me – my first question was – how much for that cabinet? Yes, I know if this were a MasterCard commercial, the answer would be priceless – but, this is the real world and the question to myself was – how much do I have to pay for something I already owned?
It was a fair price – $10.00. I knew this was my cabinet, but I wanted Larry to authenticate it for me. He was at the office which is five minutes from where I was. I told him it wasn’t an emergency, but he needed to leave the office at that moment and come to the yard sale to verify that this was our cabinet. I believed it was ours’ because of the half-moon crescent flowery decals on it, and he believed it was ours because he recognized the dent on one of the doors. That sealed it. I offered $5.00 because I am always hard-pressed to pay full retail – most especially at yard sales. And, the question is how did the cabinet find its way to a lawn five miles from our old house where we had left it?
My guess was the present owners of our home had re-done the basement and put the cabinet out to the trash, and that part of the yard sale contents must be stuff that was trash-picked and put out for sale. With this thought, I felt completely within my bounds to offer $5.00 for something that had cost the new owner (trash-picker) nothing. Offer accepted – they made a $5.00 profit and I got my cabinet back at half price. (My guess of the cabinet in the trash was verified by the couple that purchased our house when I saw them at a neighborhood event.)
The cabinet does not have a place of honor in my dream home that is now 20 years old. It hangs on a side wall in the garage and looks just the way it did when we moved into our first home 40 years ago. I will not touch it – It will not be sanded, cleaned, painted or decorated (styled) – I love it just the way it is. Forty years later, the discarded, left behind kitchen cabinet/repurposed laundry cabinet is the most valuable material possession I have. And I will never leave this home without it.
Amazing Grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now I’m found
Was blind but now I see