Wardrobe palimpsest


(*The author is a certified madm… medievalist)

A palimpsest is a manuscript page from which the text has been scraped or washed off so that it can be used again. Medievalists do like to stick stuff under UV to see if there are any traces that have been scraped off, because long-dead people may have had intentions to make things disappear for whatever reason, but we are nosy buggers and just don’t care.

Now the word palimpsest is, of course, used for everything in postmodern scientific discourse, so I feel emboldened to borrow it for the situation that arose when I applied woodworm treatment solution to our new-old wardrobe at Chez Street & River.

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Although the term ‘woodworm treatment’ may sound like woodworms were given a spa experience, my aim was quite the opposite. Whatever the motivation for and the outcome of the woodworm treatment was, the solution also brought special moments of joy to our historian heart. As the water-based wash was applied, old notes became visible on the inside of the wardrobe door. Even though they are just names and addresses, and most of them are illegible, we thought it was so cool that photos were taken for sharing. And the best thing is, I don’t even have to infer the possible date from the handwriting or find some clues, as one of the more legible scribblings clearly gives us a date: 28 July 1941!

We also know that at some point there were 18 preserve jars, 4 pickle jars and 30 (?) unknown types in or around the wardrobe. These things may not be important, but it’s perhaps worth a moment to stop and think of those long-gone days, fruit-ripening hot summers and old grandmothers thinking of preserve jars as the World War is tearing up Europe around them.

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Meanwhile, on 28 July 1941, Japanese troops began occupying southern French Indochina and Mittie Stephens Cobb was planting marigolds in Oklahoma.

I kind of want to scribble something on the inside of my bookshelves now, but I’m afraid they are really far from anything that anyone would want to refurbish 80 years from now. Plus what would I write?

What would you write?

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One Response to “Wardrobe palimpsest”

  1. Liz Says:

    Awesome find!

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