Saturday, 10 September 2011

Leaving their mark

A bit like modern graffiti, I guess there's always been a desire for people to leave their mark somewhere. We've seen a few initials carved into bricks outside our house, but some recent finds made me lough out loud, just from the pleasure of finding something new, and personal.

Just inside the door on the brick machine room, to the right, between the house and barn, we saw KW, OW and EL. I didn't pay much attention to it, knowing that at least KW was the father of the people we bought the house from, and being pretty sure the machine room wasn't really all that old.

It wasn't till I stuck my head out one of the small windows, right up at the third level, that the initials took on greater significance, simply in terms of the lives that were led in this house over a long time. On the sill, I found 19 OW 52. So we know that the OW on the machine room was making their mark around that time. I spoke with the previous owner today (it was really nice they just popped by to say hello while I was gutting the attic), and she thought OW was her grandmother, but I would guess OW was fairly old in 1952, so not sure if she would have been making her mark then.
It could be 18OW52, but pretty sure it's 19OW52
Nevertheless, we'll talk to the previous owners about the family tree and try to piece that together. But it seems reasonable that the KW, OW and EL from the machine room are fairly contemporary, along with the 19 OW 52 one from the attic.

KW was the father of the previous owner, and it's likely he marked the bricks. But we know a (different) KW was the grandfather and a third KW was the great-grandfather. So imagine how tickled I was to find, on the same window surround, as the 19 OW 52, a much fancier KW, complete with serifs, and the year 1880.

I think we might have a photo of this man, but I'll ask permission to reproduce it first. But this made me laugh out loud. The thoughts of a young man, or perhaps a boy, carving this into the window frame with such care, three stories up in a grain storage room, where practically nobody would see it in the 131 years that passed till this photo was taken. Brilliant!

This wood had been covered by corrugated sheeting for the past 25 years, but I'm still amazed at how fresh it looks, protected as it is by being near the top of the frame before the cladding was put up. I was so intrigued, I had to climb up the scaffolding outside to get a better impression. It was the first good look I've had of the half-timbered construction from the outside, and it certainly looks like it's been there a long time, being well-weathered.

As well as lots of carpenters marks on this gable wall, there was one more, fairly recent inscription, presumably put there by the man who erected the corrugated sheeting that covered this gable till a couple of months ago. 1986 Adolf Gruber, written in pencil on the whitewash, 11 metres above ground level right at the apex.

Presumably his helpers had certain opinions of him, as I doubt the sketch below was a self-portrait!

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