Thursday, September 8, 2011

Old experience saves Old Art

My first "regular job" was washing dishes for 65 cents an hour at a local restaurant when I was 14 years old.  There were many experiences on the job that were "firsts" in my young, sheltered life.  Things such as eating my first shrimp, working until the job was done, and saving a dropped dish by quickly putting my foot under the item just before it landed on the tile floor.  Several times I caught or redirected a falling glass, cup, or dish and saved an embarrassing situation.  Throughout the years this old habit proved helpful, but never more so than at the Shelbina Mansion. 
The restoration required moving everything in the house from room to room while working in the various areas.  The fact that many items are 140 years old, and so precious to the entire community, raised the risk factor with each move.  When moving Mr & Mrs Benjamin's bed (not to mention Carmichael's, Crist's, Long's, & Shepherd) from one room to another, we carefully supported the tall and elaborate head board when removing the side boards.  Then I held one side while a friend held the other.  As we approached the doorway, the headboard needed to be tilted to clear the top of the door.  At this moment the walnut carving of Lady Columbia that adorned the top of the headboard broke free and fell toward the floor.  In that moment, the technique that I learned 50 years ago came to the rescue and I was able to put my foot under the falling artifact.  It landed on the inside of my ankle and foot which changed the direction from vertical to the oak flooring to a gentle slide across the floor.  Yes, my ankle really hurt, but Lady Columbia was saved!  Recently I was able to disassemble the headboard and repair the old crack that had not been properly repaired sometime in the past.  The old crack had been glued, but was not clamped at that time; therefore, the gap was too large for the glue to hold.  This time we  cleaned off the old glue, clamped the two parts tightly together and allowed several days for the glue to cure.  A couple of discretely located screws completed the repair.  It was interesting to see that someone from the past had placed the pieces on an old Shelbina Democrat when trying to make the glue repair.  If there were a date, it could tell us when the repair was tried.

The bed once again adorns Shelbina's Mansion.  It once left the house for many years , but returned home during the Crist's tenure thanks to Helen Nicely (Carmichael).  Friends of the Mansion aided in return of the bed and matching dresser as they have in many ways throughout the years.  We never met Helen Nicely, but we will never forget her either.

No comments:

Post a Comment