I discovered, when I fell through the floor, the only thing holding the sun porch together was the indoor, outdoor carpeting. I mean really, who builds a sun porch (knowing the rain will enter the room through the screens) with pressed wood. Even Plywood would have been stronger, although the results would have been the same. I removed the green carpet (like you would use on cement, or an outside green at a Minnie Golf) and immediately fell through the floor. Now it was a good two and a half feet to the ground below and it hurt, (my feelings if nothing permanent.) So, we tore tear down the porch. It went down fast, as I recall, considering that I had my mad up from the fall. I reused the two by sixes (that I fell between in the sun room) on the basement floor. The same person who used the pressed wood on the floor in the sun room had redone the basement. It was all built with pressed wood paneling which as all the rage in the fifties or sixties, maybe even the seventies. It was re done in the eighties, and with walls everywhere in the basement.
The first thing I did was rip everything out and I discovered (1) the obvious bump in my kitchen, (and on the second floor as well) was a result of an old house settling on an improper wall in the basement (now you would think a contractor, the person who had owned the house at one time and was responsible for the basement remodeling and the sunroom addition, would know that) and (2) a disintegrating rafter under the kitchen floor which was put in the day the house was built and was in direct line to water traveling from the flat roof above the kitchen to the rafter below it.
Now in fairness we should have known about the water damage considering the great Perry creek flood happened on Friday night as we were moving in the last of our heavy things—the washer and dryer. The rain came down in sheets. It was a monsoon outside and it came down on the washer and dryer and our heads as we tried to move in. My future brother in law (I never questioned his love for my sister after that) helped get them from the truck to the wooden stairs, up them and across the floor in the sunroom, (that’s right, the same floor that would collapse with me) to the back door through rain coming through the screens (refer back to the ability of screens to hold back water.) Did I mention that the Perry Creek would go over its banks the next day? A day that would include the start of the horse racing season which I was the announcer and the start of a new job as news director at KSCJ radio. That could have been the reason we moved the last of the heavy stuff on Friday night, I don’t remember. Now technically I wasn’t supposed to start as the news director until Monday. That was the deal and I was sticking to it, even with the Perry Creek flood. I didn’t make many friends that day (except for the people at the horse track.) I had one reporter who was part time and I figured she would cover the flood. She called me in the booth at the horse track to tell me of her consternation, anger really, over the fact that she had to cover the flood. It‘s good that she got on the phone to cover the flood, but it’s bad that she quit the next day. I started my first day as the news director knowing that I would have to hire a news person.
The next day was the day Sherry and the kids carried the last of the boxes up the wooden stairs, (stairs you could have gotten with the purchase of a new trailer home) across the sun room floor and into the debris in the kitchen. I found out about the debris in the kitchen on the phone in the booth at the horse track. It seems the ceiling had collapsed from all that rain the night before. It was right over the spot where the rafter under the kitchen floor was also getting water. Although I didn’t discover the rafter for years, I knew immediately (because of the phone call) that our new kitchen was a mess.
We should have known something was up by the weird way the kitchen was installed with a ceiling that was two feet below the rest of the house, and that if you took the fake ceiling panels down (like the ones used in a basement) you would find an odd wood structure built just where the flat roof was leaking.
The flat roof had a door next to it on the second floor. The door and flat roof were designed to help you bring objects to the second floor that wouldn’t fit up the winding stairway, things like mattresses and box springs. We had roped and brought up the mattresses, as we knew we would have too, a week or so before the great flood. I had checked out the flat roof before we bought the house with my trusty side kick, my son. David was about 12 at the time. During our inspection of roof, we discovered a tennis ball on the flat roof that had somehow sunk into the gravel and tar and was trapped there. I didn’t think much of it, but David did and went back out there by himself and pulled up the trapped ball and threw it from the roof. That was not the exact cause of the leakage that brought down the ceiling, but it sure didn’t help. The fact that it was a major storm, that it was shoddy job fixing it up from another cave in and the tennis ball sized indention all worked in concert to bring the ceiling down… again. Now I knew at least why he had opted for the hung ceiling. It covered a world sin. We put it up again over the weird wood patches, but the ceiling still leaked. For years we thought the tennis ball caused the problem, but it was after I tore the sun room down and discovered the bad rafter that I blamed the previous owner: the contractor.
We re-did the basement so that I could use it. As I mentioned, the joist had to be fixed because it was crushed on one end due to the flooding. I assumed I would have to replace the joist and rebrick the outside. After I had done my due diligence with contractor’s I finally found one who would rebrick the basement for 1500 dollars. I thought that was a little much, but I hired him anyway. Now to keep the price down to 1500 dollars I agreed to work as his grunt doing all the digging and hauling all the bricks. We would go down to the old foundation and start from there. Well, there wasn’t an old foundation. There wasn’t any foundation at all. I found out that when these houses were built in 1917, they basically dug out a basement leaving a dirt floor and then started laying brick on the dirt. Now I don’t know the process completely, but they dug the basement about four feet smaller than the house, laid brick on the dirt around but away from the basement, bricked up to the main floor and then built everything after that. They then went back to the basement and rounded the basement wall and held it all together with cement. The foundation was nonexistent. We propped the existing joists Including the bad one, dug down about 8 feet, poured a cement foundation (for the corner we were doing) and bricked up from there. I had always intended to brick the whole way around my house, but the 1500 dollars stopped me and now, at least, I have a foundation under about 10 feet my house. Suffice it to say I fixed the joist, or rafter depending on where you’re standing and went on to redo the rest of the basement.
As I mentioned I put in the two by sixes down on the on the cracked cement floor in the basement (a basement that was apparently poured in over time.) I naturally put them down on end so that the floor would be 5 and 1/5 inches higher. (Don’t get me started on why they are called 2x6’s, a fact that would prove to be a problem later when the real 2x4’s we’re matched up with the new 2x4’s which were really 1 and ¾ by 3 and 1/2’s.) I nailed down ¾ inch flooring which was brought the floor to over 6 inches above the rest of the cement floor. The raised floor is interesting conversation piece that I have stubbed my toe on many times.
I was putting the walls in the basement when one the great stories of all time happened. My first grandchild was helping. Now she was about 3 at the time and ever since she was a little baby, we took her everywhere with us. If one of us was going to Menard’s, we would stop and get Bailey. In fact, it was at Menard’s that I found a Christmas present from Bailey to her Grandma (Sherry.) It was a carrousel that played music. Bailey and I had a long talk about how important it was to keep it a secret. Now I don’t know if it was ever a secret but Sherry and Bailey both swore to me that Bailey didn’t tell. So, with her little sister upstairs, she was down in the basement helping me put up walls. I gave her a hammer and she was putting nails in the wall that didn’t connect to anything. (I pulled them out later.) At one point I was bent over the wall that I was working on. I laid the wall out, hammered the studs together and then Bailey and I would push them up, in place and then go work on the next wall. Anyway, I was bent over and sitting on the floor hammering one of them together. I thought Bailey was hammering in nails to whatever and she said to me (who knows what goes through a child’s mind) “Now this will only hurt for a minute.” I said “Ok.” Then I thought, wait, what? At that moment she hit me in the head with the hammer. I fell forward to the floor. In cartoons they always show little stars and choo choo trains going around in a person’s head after they have been hit in the head. I’m here to tell you that I saw little stars and choo choo trains in my head for a minute. I then took Bailey by the hand and staggered up the stairs. I said I thought it best if I continued, on my own, for a while.
With the stakes sufficiently measured, with the sun room torn down, and the decision on the cistern put off until another day there was no reason not to get started with the addition. I tried but my Dad prevailed, and I started it that day in August, 1999.