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Cleaning up the ketchup & mustard

07/15/2015
Cleaning up in the Mustard Room. (Photo by Jennifer Moore)

Cleaning up in the Mustard Room.
(Photo by Jennifer Moore)

We said goodbye to our ketchup & mustard rooms.

That’s what we called our Bangor dining room and living room.  The deep red and sorry yellow on the walls looked like they came out of a plastic bottle with a resealable cap. A home designer might call it bold. We just called it funny.

Before we moved into the place three years ago, the property manager decided to add a fresh coat of paint to the lower level. The handy man boasted to me one day that he painted the two rooms with a new product that combines the primer and color in one can.

“It was something new. You could do it all in just one coat,” he said. “I think it looks pretty good.”

“OK…”

Anyway, the boxers and movers took over the ketchup & mustard rooms during the last 48 hours and put everything we own into a huge truck.

Then we had to clean, sweep & mop.

With the rugs rolled up and hauled away, we rediscovered the “unique” hardwood floors in the ketchup & mustard rooms. It was one of our first impressions that will remain a great memory of our time in Maine.

Who knows when, but sometime in the history of 355 Ohio Street (maybe the Great Depression?), it was decided to refinish the living and dining room floors. The beautiful 19th Century hardwood had gone from shiny, grain-streaked pine to a crusty, scuffed and blotched mess of a floor.

Time to sand the floors down and add a few coats of poly, right?

Sort of.

Before we moved in, Jen and I stopped at 355 Ohio. We didn’t have the keys yet and had rented the place sight unseen. We were eager to get a look at our new home. Peering in the windows, this is what we saw: the outer edge of the floors were sanded and clean. The middle was still a pea soup color with more than 100 years of scratches, scuffs and stains.

“What?!” said Jen. “Look at those floors!”

Somewhere down the line, money was saved on a home improvement project: Just sand and refinish around the edges, the carpet will cover up the rest.

It was our first lesson in the thrifty and creative ways of many real Mainers.

As I put the finishing touches on our last day cleaning, I handed Jen my camera phone.

I swept the sanded and dirty part of the floor. Jen snapped a picture.

There we stood in the empty mustard room.

Just a couple of hot dogs.

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One Comment
  1. Mark, I don’t know if you ever encountered this other incarnation of Maine thrift in your years here: building the foundation, capping it off, and moving into the cellar, maybe years before there’s a house on top.

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