Urban Archaeology in the Hood

30 May

Happy in the Hole

I recently sold a property next to mine, [for reasons too numerous to mention]. The new owner is a pleasant,thoughtful and polite man about the same age as me. I hope he remains pleasant as he goes through the process of rebuilding the wreck I sold him. It has become all too apparent to me that my days of “Urban pioneering” are over.  Selling the building was the best move I ever have made. I just do not have the energy to expend on large remodeling  jobs any longer. I would much rather sit here and recount my life’s experiences to you my dear reader.

Now to get to the story at hand. I had a number of reservations about still living next door to my ex property. Watching a new owner do the things that I had planned to do still bothers me and I have little patience for nocturnal demolition occurring on our shared parting wall. It has been about three months since he took pocession and I am pleased to report that it has not been a problem. It was yesterday while I prepared for a small Memorial Day event on my deck that I discovered my neighbors passion for “digging” as he calls it, [ I think its madness] but to each his own. A few weeks ago he started to clean up the backyard and while doing so I noticed he was also digging holes, obviously in search of something, I let it pass thinking that maybe he was going to bury some of the trash I left behind. His plot revealed itself in full color stereo sound yesterday morning. He is a devotee of  urban archaeology! as I peered over my deck wall I saw that he had pitched a tent and he and a soiled comrade were taking turns digging down into the ancient privy which he had discovered. A privy for those of you who do not live in a 300 year old neighborhood is a toilet .Philadelphia like most older cities has a wealth of history thrown down the toilet. Ben Franklins privy even yielded a pair of his famous reading specs, [now on display] In fact he’s back there digging as I write this blog. My burrowing neighbor told me that it doesn’t get good until you reach a depth of at least 12 or 14 feet. All I can do is laugh at the analogies between him and Indiana Jones…”Did you find the Ark of the Covenant yet? ” I asked him, he laughed off my sarcasm and went on to explain that he has done this for a number of years.  He  told me that he and his cohort have dug all over town. I have to give him credit for an adventurous passion. He  went on to explain to  me about penetrating the “shit layer”[I penetrate layers of shit every day and it’s not in a hole I thought]. Thats when you really know you have arrived, he quipped from the bottom of his muddy confines . He told me of a friend of his who found a completely intact corpse, [YUK! a less than pleasant discovery] I’m certainly glad that its YOUR building now, not mine.

Ambitious to say the least, hope the Nazis don't show up

As they pulled out pieces of broken china my interest began to rise, Anything English? I asked, they did retrieve a broken fragment of “Blue Willow” export china which they seemed impressed that I named right away, “I know dishes ok? ” I’m not a total idiot. The best find of the day was a bottle impressed with a Frankford ave. street address a  few blocks north and an old baking soda bottle [appropriate considering the building was a bakery for decades].

As they dug  I thought what a fabulous cable show this passion would make. I told them that I will start spreading the word [via this blog] to test the publics reaction. This may be my road to fame and fortune. So whaddya Think? is this show worthy? Is this the cable answer to the “Pickers” Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of ” The Diggers” hit the link for more digging       https://picasaweb.google.com/vardisellis/FriesUrbanArchaeology?authkey=Gv1sRgCKLUw_PK7tyRjgE#

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