When we moved into our 1925 farmhouse almost 13 years ago there was not much of its original charm left. The previous owner had pretty much stripped it out and did a pretty poor job of even that. Fortunately the porches around two sides of the house were still intact. It looked like there had been about three additions added since the house was originally built. The biggest addition, and probably the last one before our ownership, was obviously built by what is known in the trade as a hack. There were numerous areas around the perimeter that had no foundation or crawl space dug. We discovered the last area when we replaced the deck at the rear of the house last year. There was a twelve-foot area that was totally supported by a couple of twelve-foot 2×6 with nothing but mud under them. Obviously much of the remodels were done without any official inspection. That is one of the potential problems with buying older houses especially in small towns.
But to continue my basic message here there were a couple of bedrooms that seemed a part of the original house. One of the most notable things about these rooms was the size of the closets. Each one had a door that was about eighteen inches wide and a total inside width of no more than two feet. When the house was originally built this we more than enough room for the occupant’s clothes. In those days most typically had about two changes of clothes and a “Sunday go to meeting” suit.
Fast forward to today and it now takes a room about the size of these old bedrooms just to contain our clothes. I am a fan of the TV series “Little People, Big World”. The family in that series are definitely not “neat freaks”. They usually have many piles of unclean clothes lying around each teenager’s room. But in the background there is also an eight foot wide closet also filled with clothes. I kind of think this is the norm for most families. Each kid probably had forty to fifty changes of clothes!
We talk about how rough we have it now days but as usual everything is relative. The original owners of our farmhouse were by no means poor. They owned most of the land down our road. But in their wildest dreams they would never have imagined having the amount of clothes that we do today.
One of my favorite words the last few years is “Simplify”. I am trying to shed much of the material things in life. In some areas I’m doing a pretty good job but in others not so good. I have managed to shrink my possession of clothes down to what I could stuff in about a four foot width. Gone are all the suits I once wore. Gone are many of the “business casual” shirts and pants. I now have about a dozen shirts for summer and another dozen for winter. The pants are down to about eight pairs. Simplifying my life seems to be enabling me to look at the larger issues. I don’t know why that is important to me but it just is…..