Salvaging Yesterday

E.B. White produced a collection of personal reflections in 1944 under the title, “One Man’s Meat.”  His desire to leave the city – New York City – manifested in the form of a farm in an obscure little coastal village in Maine.  There he kept a few sheep, some chickens, and, yes, a pig that would inspire him to write the children’s classic, Charlotte’s Web.  He wrote a lot of other books, too.  However, it is “One Man’s Meat” that comes to mind today, a book that is about the little things in our everyday lives that we see and do, the things that please us, the things we like and insist on while others view our choices as unfathomable irregularities, if not a breach in the connectivity of the synapses or, put simply, a touch of madness.  Could one man’s meat be another man’s poison?  The very act of leaving New York City for downeast Maine, according to many of observers close to E. B. White, was a thundering “yes”.

Well, huzzah for Mr. White!  He vindicates me and all those like me.  You see, I’ve been working on a renovation project for years now, and when one would think it’s reaching the point of completion, it isn’t.  There is progress, certainly.  Some of the progress is rather astonishing.  I reflect on those astonishing astonishments when contemplating what remains on my one room schoolhouse affair as a way to renew my sense of adventure and purpose.   It is no secret that some heads have wagged in a certain direction over my enthusiasm for an old schoolroom as they observe the sheer physical work I’ve thrown into it (not to mention a steady stream of dough  – *ahem*).  There’s much to this renovation story and it is a tale to be told soon enough on this site.  For now, let us be content with just one aspect of the current madness:  the salvage yard where one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Porcelain perfection!. Copyright James V. Michalec 2015

Porcelain perfection!.
Copyright James V. Michalec 2015

After all, how does one go about restoring something to an original appearance?  Salvage yards are one answer.  They have been around since mankind moved out of the caves and started constructing hand-made shelters (For example, stones from ancient works such as the pyramids were salvaged to build other things later on).  My own desire for an old utility sink for the cellar took me to an upstate salvage yard where I found exactly what I needed.  There, amongst the racks of old wood shutters and rows of upside down bathtubs, I found my most perfect utility sink.  The owner of this particular architectural salvage yard, a young wiry fellow all too ready to assist, said the overall business for “old stuff” is growing every year.  That warmed my heart.  It’s so good to hear there is a growing number of mad people to take comfort in, though being in the company of E. B. White is all the encouragement I need.  I know good a good meat when I see it.

A bathtub never looked so good. Copyright James V. Michalec 2015

A bathtub never looked so good.
Copyright James V. Michalec 2015