We ripped off the mantel which almost certainly had not been there originally and the gingerbread which had replaced the original molding when someone decided to modernize the house, and then called Iggy to please come tell what to put back and how. We hardly had the words out of our mouths before he was here in his working clothes with a large pile of very impressive books on old houses. Doris, of course, too, but in a beautiful blue suit looking very lady-like except for the eager expression. It’s very simple — by scraping away the paint you can easily go back over the various mutilations to the original purity of the design. The books were studied in the hope that a duplicate of what ours had been would be pictured. I am proud to say there were none. This was going to cost some more money and I pulled in the budget another good sized notch.
While this detective work was going on, Iggy was itchily poking at the bricks in the fireplace. Obviously those had been put in later and a large stone fireplace was hiding its beauty somewhere in the depths. Finally he inadvertently managed to knock out a couple of bricks and then you could no more have stopped him than a steam roller which has gotten over the brink of the hill. He continued feverishly to knock out bricks until lunch time. Harlan tried to help but he kept getting in Iggy’s way. Doris was standing by mildly scolding Iggy for knocking people’s houses down and if you want to know what I was doing I’ll make it the subject of my next Snark paper.
At lunch time, rather than be subjected to soup on the kitchen table and the confusion of a Saturday noon at our house, they took off with a promise to be back after lunch with more tools. When the sun had set that day, the bricks had been knocked out and stacked carefully outside in case Iggy wanted them. Doris still in her beautiful blue suit had carried out many pails of rubble and we had a very beautiful gray stone fireplace instead of a rather ugly brick one. Iggy, of course, had the necessary stone to replace the few that would have to be replaced. But he didn’t offer to put them in himself, so another expense.
At this point, as I go to press, I am knee deep in scraped paint and the job is hardly started. My arm is stiff, my hair and fingernails full of dust and the rest of the house is almost in the same state as the dining room is. The tour is to be on May 25th and anybody can see professional help is going to be required. The artist who designed the ridges and gullies and raisings on that panelling never envisioned anyone having to take the paint off someday. I will never look casually again at the wood work in that room.
This is the end of the story of the dining room, but in my next installment I’ll include the next section, which is a story about the Cleaning Lady’s Gift.