Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hoarder House on Haunted Hill!!!!

Over the past 3 weeks, I have been cleaning out the house of the mother of a girlfriend from 20 years ago. She contacted me this summer about doing some plumbing work, but I never heard back and assumed that she had forgotten about it. I got the call a little over 3 weeks ago that she had the materials and that I could come do the work. I got there the next day and began the job, and we ended up talking more than I worked. I forgot how much I missed this woman. Though things obviously didn't work out for the daughter and I, I often thought about her parents. If anyone remembers the post I made last year about attending a funeral, that was her husband. We sat and talked about the times when I dated the daughter, and all the fun we all always had. I really did forget how much I liked her.

Now....if anyone has ever seen those TV shows about hoarders, this is one of those places. It was bad 20 years ago, and it's worse now. As if it weren't bad enough that the house is piled full of "stuff", she is in her late 70's and has Parkensons. She walks with a 4 legged cane and has a hard time navigating through the house. After a few talk with her and the daughter, she's kept me on to get rid of things and clean the house. I thought I knew what I was getting into, but now after being there at least 5 days a week for 3 weeks, I have barely scratched the surface. It's truly unreal.

I started in the basement, which was the worst of all just because of garbage. Not food garbage, but emty boxes, containers, and bags as far as you could see. As of yesterday, I have 36 giant contractor sized trash bags full of just trash to go to a dumpster, which we're getting next week. I've found things down there that the wife and daughter didn't even know about. Tools. Unopened, unused power tools. A 6 foot tall rollaway box full of Craftsman hand tools, most of which has never been taken out of the package or used. I found a Craftsman chainsaw from 1986 that was never opened, gun blueing tanks, boxes and boxes of fishing gear, metal detedting equiptment, diving gear, a 1976 Coleco air hockey table that was never opened, an All American pressure canner, 7 dozen canning jars, coins, knives, 3 never opened Coleman lanterns from the 1960's, 72 packs of mantles for the lanterns, 12 packs of flints for the same, handwarmers, and clothes. WOW the clothes. There are three racks, 24 feet long, of womens clothes, sealed in garment bags that have never been worn. This place is like a treasure hunt and a junkyard nightmare at the same time.

A few days ago, we decided to skip the basement for a while and start upstairs. We first attacked her bedroom. WOW again. There were so many piles of clothes that she had barely a 10 inch wide path to get to her own bed. Along the back wall is a long dresser, maybe 8 feet long. On top is a stereo system, cable box, 27 inch tv, two vcr's, and hundreds, no lie, hundreds of video tapes in stacks. At the foot of the bed were 6-7 file storage boxes, again full of videotapes. She decided to start with the husbands clothes, and we attacked his drawers. yet again. Unopened wool socks,flannnel pajamas, t-shirts, dress shirts, and then came the boxes. Every drawer had boxes. Boxes of what? Jewelry. New, never worn jewelry. I don't mean costume jewelry or the $100 Target-Kmart type jewelry, I mean platinum watches, solid gold rings, pearls, emeralds, diamonds, real jewelry. There was so much that by the time we finished just that room, we had filled two dresser drawers with nothing but jewelry. I'm still shaking my head at the literally thousands of dollars of jewelry in that room.

On Saturday we started the spare bedroom that was once her daughters. Again, 25+ boxes of not only video tapes, but now DVD's. Never opened DVD's. Singles, packs, box sets, hundreds of them. I moved those aside, and hit the gun cabinet which was in the middle of the room behind the piles. Seven long guns were still in the cabinet for ten. I moved piles of junk from behind it, then moved it so I could get inside. I got the drawer on the bottom open, and found ammo for things he hadn't had for years, scopes from the 60's that were still in their box, unopened cleaning kits marked 1972, an 1874 revolver in a sock, an old never used straight razor, and other pistol accesories for long gone guns. As we got into dresser and desk drawers, I found even more jewelry. Some were new, and some were things he had found while metal detecting and had cleaned and repaired. Again, thousands of dollars worth. Then came the dolls. Collectable dolls. From stores, from catalogs, and from tv shopping channels. Dolls from 12" high to 4 feet. Special edition Disney dolls to high dollar collectables marked $500. Once again, thousands of dollars just sitting in a room piled with junk.

After moving around and rearranging things in that room, she mentioned the mens shoes in a closet inside the front entry. We went there next, and added over 40 pairs of mens shoes to the mountain of womens shoes I already had in the truck. As I was loading the boxes, I saw one with a shipping label and curiousity got the best of me. USPS label-September 4th, 1964. Holy shoe fetish Batman! These shoes are a year older than ME! I loaded them all in the truck, again shaking my head, then sat with her for a cup of coffee. It was then that she said something she's said to me at least 3-4 times since I started this project. "I'm sure glad I'm not one of those hoarder people like you see on tv". I really have no answer for her on this one. I can't outright tell her "umm, you ARE one of those people". I just can't say it to her face. Though she's aware that the house is a disaster, she can't see that she is one of them. She always makes comments about how much the husband had bought over the years, but she somehow justifies the thousands of movies, hundreds of shoes, and who knows how many articles of clothing that she owns. I changed the conversation and talked about our garden, finished my coffee, and headed for home knowing that I have many more days, or should I say WEEKS left to get this place cleaned out and liveable. As I'm writing this now, I am trying to think of a plan of attack for today when I get there. It's overwhelming.

She's letting me take anything usefull that is in the house, with no care as to what it's worth. I repeatedly said I could sell things and give her the money, but she refuses every time. A few things she wants to give me as partial payment for the cleanout, and for the repairs that will need done inside and out once I'm finished. I forget how many truckloads I have hauled out, but here is a list of things that I have brought home so far:

Browning BLR 7mm mag (unfired)
Remington 870 Wingmaster 12ga (unfired)
Marlin 60 .22 semi (unfired)
French 6.5 WWI bolt action rifle
British Enfield .303 rifle
Marlin 30as 30/30 unfired
Interarms MKX 25.05 (unfired)
Interarms MKX 30.06 (unfired)
Marlin/Glenfield 20 .22LR bolt action
3300 rounds CCI minimag .22 LR
misc cleaning kits for above
200rds .357
300rds .303
NIB straight razor from the 30's
two NIB safety razors from the 50's
2 Buck hunting knives (lockblades)
2 Buck pocketknives
2 Ronson lighters from the 60's (NIB)
5 Coleman lanterns (3 of which have never been used)
72 packs of mantles for the lanterns
10-10 packs of flints for the lanterns
Gun blueing tanks
Misc ice fishing gear
Fishing gear from the 30's (2 reels alone sold for $300)
6ft rollaway box full of mostly never used or in-package Craftsman hand tools
NIB Craftsman circular saw
NIB Craftsman hand sander
NIB Craftsman 1/2" pro series drill
NIB Craftsman 16" chainsaw
NIB Milwaukee sawzall
Craftsman battery charger/starter
Coleco air hockey table dated 1976-never opened
NIB mens workboots and rubber boots (size 10 1/2 dammit lol)
And more things I can't seem to remember at the moment

Now you see why I haven't been back to the blog since the last post. This place exausts me both physically and mentally. I finish there for the day, come home, eat dinner, shower, and sit. It just drains me every day. I'll keep everyone informed on the happenings there and what the newest finds are. For now, I'm off to let the truck warm up (we have about 3" of snow), and head over for another adventure.
Wish me luck!


Abigail said...

I don't know you, but I'm so happy that you're helping her! Many hoarders (myself included) just get ourselves so overwhelmed that even though we want to clean up, just the thought of having to sort and get rid of stuff we know is trash, is overwhelming. So thank you for helping her! And you're getting some great stuff in the process!

Happy Days said...

Unbelievable! It must be so overwhelming! How in the world do you know where to start. Too bad you don't have a salvation Army to give all those shoes too. There must be some agency that could take the stuff. Good Luck, it will probably take you forever!!...debbie

Chris W said...

This is defenitely a chore and a half! I was there today about 6 1/2 hours and she's able to walk through her living room for the first time in years without having to navigate around boxes.
Debbie, I'm taking most of the clothes and shoes to Goodwill since there is a store up the road that I pass every day. I have a personal ban on the Salvation Army lol I wouldn't give them the empty boxes.

small farm girl said...

Wow!!!! You have found a treasure trove. Yes, it may be a lot of work, but where would you EVER find those things for free. Well, not really for free. But, I bet you are thinking it was worth it.

Ralphy said...

I don't know what the lady's husband did for work but back in the day, the rust belt had good decent jobs that paid well and people accumulated stuff. I watch American Pickers on cable TV and I am constantly amazed at what people have acquired over a life time of work. Hang in there and the economy will get better and you too will have oodles of stuff when you get old that young people will gaze in wonder at. lol !

If It Hits The Fan said...

I've been following this on TSP. It's really amazing. You're doing a good thing for this lady, and I'm sure she and her daughter appreciate it. The stuff you are keeping is a bonus on the good Karma!

Fiona said...

Your blog is interesting. I for one feel the need to save so many things, as I feel it can be recreated into something else. 'waste not want not' :) So I struggle against hoarding.

Thank you for sharing

Blessings Fiona

Vee and the Kid said...

As preppers, we have a fine line between "preppers" and "hoarders" and I'm dangerously close to crossing that line. Started going through boxes to make notes of what I have, and organize so I can easily find everything. Great! Vikki at

Kellie said...

People who save their treasures do think differently than normal people. Yes I am one of those that tend to accumulate a lot of stuff. So I did research on it, our brains actually function different along the top...think mohawk! But from your comments it seems it was the husband that was the hoarder. I can tell this because if it was the lady, she would NOT be so relieved right now! But rather stressed! By her giving you the things, you are actually (if she is a bit of a hoarder) helping her mentally and NOT just physically. Thank you for that! It really helps to know and it is much easier to do, if one (the hoarder) knows their treasures are also going to be treasured by the person they are given to. And how wonderful she can be a part of it! (so many die and then it is really sad going through all that) take care! and have a blast!

City Sister said...

What a wonderful find...for both of you...she needs you to help, and you have some wonderful items you need to get by.

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