Aside: Clearing the Gadget Dungeon

Needing office space for the BBG technodungeon, I cleared the basement of my recently-bought Victorian house. Taking a steel brush to the walls soon caused a chunk of ancient mortar to topple off. Underneath, a brick sat, unanchored, in its space. This is what lay behind it:
A bottle! Unfortunately crushed by the weight – literally – of decades of time. It's easy imagine the former occupant of this place working slavishly on whatever he or she worked on, locked for long hours in this dark cellar, occasionally taking a remedial swig from the stash. Is this my destiny? I shall nip misery and despair in the bud right now, and promise myself never to review an off-brand cellphone ever again.

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12 Responses to Aside: Clearing the Gadget Dungeon

  1. tresser says:

    can we have picture of how this hole is in regards to the rest of the wall? i’m personally having a tough time picturing it in the wallspace.


  2. RJ says:

    If the bottle seems to have once been about pint-sized or less, especially with a very short neck, it may have been a drug stash. The mouth of the bottle looks unusual, anyway. One of those old-fashioned thin rubber caps used on such bottles would have crusted-up and rotted away years ago, anyway.

    Maybe a previous owner was keeping their habit a secret. Morphine, Laudanum, Heroin. Hard to know for sure. The plastic could still be quite old; old enough to have been placed by a post-WWII vet with “the pains.”

  3. Rob Beschizza says:

    Sure, Tresser. I’ve been planning to do a “see our offices” post for a while.

  4. Halloween Jack says:

    hallpass: That butter crock could predate the Nazi era. The 45th Infantry Division, based in Oklahoma, had a swastika (gold on a red background) as its original division patch, because of the use of the symbol by Native Americans; the design was changed in the thirties to a thunderbird. Also, the local Republican Party headquarters in Bloomington, Illinois was (and maybe still is) in an old building with an antique tile entrance that included swastikas. There’s also an old pic floating around the Web somewhere of a pre-JFK Jackie Bouvier dressed as an Indian for some costume party with a you-know-what on her dress.

  5. Scuba SM says:

    It’ll never break, they said. It’ll never be released, they said. Even if it does break, it’s behind the wall they said. But they were wrong. It’s loose now. It took too long to catch it the first time. It’d be too hard to catch it again. So tired. I hear… I hear the scratching. It’s here. Time for one last stand, I suppose.

  6. strider_mt2k says:

    Stuff like this is just great.
    Nothing like a tiny slice of someone’s life to think about, tucked away forgotten until it’s discovery.

  7. cmuwriter says:

    Have you taken the bottle pieces out of the wall to see what kind of stuff the bottle could have held?

  8. Jake0748 says:

    Is this Al Capone’s vault?

  9. Rob Beschizza says:

    I did. It just looked like a generic round bottle. There was no paper, but as you can see form the pic, a corrugated plastic sheet. (So it can’t be *that* old)

  10. SleighBoy says:

    “I hastened to make an end of my labor. I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up. Against the new masonry I re erected the old rampart of bones. For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace requiescat.”

  11. hallpass says:

    My wife and I bought a century-old semi-detached home about five years ago that had been in the same family for 50 years.

    In the process of tearing up the carpets and clearing out the canning cupboards in the basement, we found a number of little time capsules including copies of the local newspaper with stories on the Suez Crisis and a long evaporated bottle of whiskey on a high shelf above the work bench.

    My favorite discovery came as I disassembled a contraption that had been built to pump water out of the basement, perhaps in conjunction with an old washing machine.

    Underneath the copper cistern was a white and blue ceramic butter crock adorned with a number of swastikas. No doubt it had been hidden there since the 1930s or ’40s.

    My wife made me leave it on a shelf in the garage when we sold the place a couple of years ago.

  12. airshowfan says:

    Dang, Sleighboy beat me to it.

    Um… here’s a random link :)

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