On today's episode of Archaeology with Lanny, Lanny gets creepy. Like, REALLY creepy.

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10:10 AM
It's no secret that I've got an affinity for old stuff - ESPECIALLY if the old stuff was once buried.

My childhood home was (and still is -- for now) situated between two towering locust trees and was surrounded by rolling alfalfa fields. The space between our house and the main road (the east side) was a deep ditch.  I'm terrible at estimating distances, but I think that the property to the east of our house was about 200' x 200'. The whole yard totals just under an acre.

This was my great-grandmother's house, now fondly referred to as 'The Burrow' for obvious reasons.

I can't recall exactly when my parents began the process of filling in the side yard; but for a few years, the comings and goings of dump trucks were our normal. Fun fact - most dump truck operators aren't accustomed to dropping their load under the main power line for a home. I can remember several occasions in which the driver snagged the line, disconnecting power to the house.

Anyway ... the material that got dumped was varied; from pristine topsoil to rocks, gravel and other items. I can remember playing on what I remember being a massive mountain of dirt and discovering a cache of the most curious little objects. Looking back, most of it was probably trash... broken dishes or pottery, and similar. Every now and then, however, I would discover something intact and altogether precious like a tiny, antique vial of pills or a porcelain lid with the name of an apothecary inscribed. These tokens were more than enough to get my (admittedly-overactive) imagination going. I had fantasies of the past without the burden of understanding how truly shitty it must have been. (Mostly the disease, plagues, and sanitation issues)

Fast forward to today (okay, Tuesday) and you'll find a slightly older version of that same  imaginative little girl (spoiler alert: It's me), overindulging her fantasy and romanticizing this house's rich past. ("I didn't major in Anthropology for nothing" ... is the subtext of every cover letter for a non-anthropological job ever.)

Throughout the course of this project, D. has made some rad discoveries in the walls and under the house:

 TREASURE COLLECTION!

 A broken piece of an old light fixture, some HUGE nails, an old gum wrapper, miscellaneous broken china fragments.

 SILVERWARE! Who loses TWO forks? IN A WALL? 
I'm not complaining though, this house is like my very own time capsule!

 A scrap of wallpaper that I am suddenly, and inexplicably inspired to have replicated ... No idea why.

 This one is my favorite. A bottle of "Extra Fine Lager Beer" by Henco Brewing Co. 


Our initial thought was that it was left behind by when the furnace and ducts were installed, as that's the only way that it could have been dropped that far from the outside walls of the house. I did a little research and discovered that Spokane, WASH was the proud host of THIRTEEN breweries at one time and Henco was founded in the late 1880s and went defunct for good around 1915. It's safe to assume that this bottle was, in fact, NOT discarded by a careless (and drunken) HVAC employee in the 50s; rather, a rare surviving artifact of Henry Lydell himself. 

There's no beer left. I checked.


This week's research got me thinking about the old wedding photo I happened upon a while back. I discovered it entirely by accident (using quotation marks can work wonders for a google search) on a random website called 'worthopedia' that showed me the description of the listing and the date it sold, but obscured the final purchase price on ebay unless I coughed up $14! Obviously THAT wasn't going to happen. (here's the part where I get creepy) So I sauntered over to ebay and started looking at expired listings that matched the description. When I started to notice the same half-dozen sellers popping up in every search, I decided to get creative and lurk their feedback ratings around the date the photograph was sold. I didn't find it in any of those local users pages, so I decided to email them in the event that the listing simply expired and perhaps the photograph went unsold. I explained the reason for my search and a little history for why it was important to get my hands on the picture. I heard back from a few of them right away with 'not my listing, but good luck!' messages. Later, I got a message from an ebay user in town who said he looked up the item I was talking about and gave me a suggestion based on the language used in the original listing. 

I found the profile and scoured the feedback for sales around the time it would have been purchased (I really had no idea that people still used ebay that avidly) and I FOUND the listing for the photograph!! (A+++++++ ebayer, would buy again). Unfortunately, the purchasing user's name is blocked (probably for this exact reason), except for the first and last letter, but I messaged the seller in hopes that they'd give up the information.  He emailed me back asking for more information, so I provided it and now we wait.

I felt a little bit creepy, stalking around the internet asking vague questions, but altogether excited for the potential to get my mitts on this:



Internet Superdetective? Or creepy, first class stalker lurker?

About the author

Lanny is a reluctantly-homeowning anthropologist busying herself with blogging while her husband does all the work on their historic house. In her abundant spare time, she likes to cycle, perfect breakdancing moves, perform at all local rap battles, and research the original owner and map his genealogy in hopes of lurking his descendants on Facebook.

4 comments :

  1. Wow, you're an anthropological Nancy Drew! Or, perhaps more to the point: where in the world is Carmin Sandiego? Nice sleuthing, gumshoe.

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  2. Wonder if you still have the beer bottle? My husband great great grandfather owned Henco Brewery in 1900.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Maria!

      We definitely do still have it -- It is perched atop our refrigerator as we speak. :)

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  3. Merry Christmas! Are you interested in selling it?

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