When the cabinet finally gave way – nothing but old paint and years of grease and moisture keeping it up once the screws were gone – and we’d eased it down the counter and out of the kitchen, we could see what had been hidden there behind it for the past decades.
An old Halls throat lozenge sweated between the cabinet we’d taken down and the one we left, beside old sunflower seeds swollen and dust-covered. The paper wrapper looked old – and not just in a forgotten-behind-the-cabinet way; the lettering, the paper, came from a different era.
Where the countertop met the wall old strips of yellowed newsprint stuck up, half caught in the wallpaper and paint above. I tore a strip free: there were advertizements for green beans, and tuna fish. There was just enough of the top to read that it was an old Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; on the reverse side was the date: 1969.
I’ve said our kitchen is old, and guessed that it was original to the house. Now I know. The countertops (whose maker went out of business in the 80s, I learned once) and cabinets are as old as the house.
We’ve spent the past two weeks with the kitchen in some sort of disarray, replacing those old countertops with new ones, taking down a set of cabinets that hung low over one counter, giving a full new work surface and an open view into the living room.
Where those old cabinets were just drywall showed and so we painted and I was so glad for the cooler days, leaving the windows open all day.
This stage is finished now. There’s plenty more to do in there but it will be later. And I don’t think any of the work to come will involve finding tiny pieces of the past: sunflower seeds and Halls and pieces of the Post Gazette.