The other day I was driving down Danville’s Central Boulevard, when I suddenly saw something different, actually, it was something different from what it used to be. What once was an old house was now a newly formed pile of rubble (same house, different “shape”).
Thinking it might be something interesting about which to write, I pulled off onto the short side road upon which that house rubble is located and walked up to it. Sometimes, a “drive-by story” is all that’s needed. But sometimes you have to pull over, get out of your car, and put your feet on the ground!
In a city like Danville, looking towards new beginnings, sometimes old dilapidated houses, unless they’re of historical importance, have to go.
Near that demolished house, another old house still stands, as yet “un-collapsed” by wrecking machinery.
In front of that old house stands a large, vine-enwrapped magnolia tree whose un-crushed, cone-like seed pods fill the section of road in front of it, advertising the road as little used.
In the yard of the pile of rubble, which once was a house, sat a bulldozer. This great piece of machinery had made some deep ruts in the yard, but there were no residents left to care; and even the ground seemed past caring as well.
The mass of broken walls and lumber in the rubble pile made me suddenly remember the retro childhood game “Pickup-Sticks” which I played in the 1950s (but the inspiration for that game is even more “retro” than I am, going back to ancient China).
As of now (but not for long), a closed-in, windowed back porch is the only part of the demolished old house which remains intact. If someone suffering from stove-pipe myopia were to look straight in the back window (and nowhere else), he would notice nothing wrong, providing the house door leading to that porch still existed and had been left closed.
In addition to the rubble “mountain,” there was a little hill of set-aside, twisted sections of a tin roof to presumably be taken somewhere for recycling or to the scrap metal buyers.
There were plenteous scraps of siding and pieces of foam insulation. The insulation now laid bare to the chilly March wind.
Here and there were a few pieces of polished hardwood floor, “looking their best” for their trip to the dump.
Some large bricks lay about, others forming part of the mostly still-standing chimney, with wonder of wonders a complete hearth and mantel. But if you were looking for some knickknacks to be still sitting on that mantel, you would have been very disappointed.
Rising above the jumble of “lumber sticks” was a piece of sheetrock of bright blue color. Since the day was cloudy, that piece of sheetrock seemed to do its best to mimic the sky’s blue, since that blue, itself, could not be present.
Just before I left the site, and after my eyes had seen all that was to be seen there, my sense of smell picked up something that still infuses my memories of the things seen.
Ghost hunters sometimes talk about ghostly smells, and standing there, I smelled the strong smell of freshly hewn wood.
The best I can figure is that the old wood was, in a way, “re-hewn” by the rough instrument of destruction.
And from that “hewing,” something “fresh” and “alive” was released from where it had been hiding pristine in the heart and knots of the old house’s timber for all these years.