It has been a busy couple of weeks. We worked through the last couple of weekends making sure we have made the most of our six weeks of fieldwork and public interaction. After weeks of excavation we came to the bottom of a five-foot-by-five foot pit in the far back of the property we believe was either a privy or cesspool. It is still lined with vertical wood boards with horizontal supports along the bottom. Teresa Robbins and James Kuzma slowly worked through layers of rubble and domestic refuse before finding a layer of the collapsed tar paper roof at the very bottom of the unit. For the most part the artifacts date to the 1930s-1950s. Lab analysis of the items will give us a definitive date. What happened here? From interviews with folks in the area and experience at other sites like this, we theorize that the waste in the pit was removed and spread throughout the garden to enrich the garden soils. This interpretation would account for the wide time range of materials we have found mixed in the yards behind the house. The unit went deep: a full five feet plus. We had some guys from the neighborhood, Josh, Brandon and Nicky, help us shore up the edges. Here is Teresa resting in the unit after its completion:
We had a great deal of visitors to the site over the last two weeks, who have shared their memories, family histories, food, photographs and local sites. Last week we were treated to an amazing meal of meatballs, pasta, salad, carrot cake and coffee provided by Grace, Linda and Angelo DeLorenzo. The DeLorenzo Family, including Carl, lived on the lot during the 1940s before moving up the hill to Pardeesville Road. The family has shared many photos and stories of living on the lot. We all became fascinated with Grace’s recipe for meatballs cooked with raisins in them. They were delicious! Below, a picture from one of Grace’s visits followed by an image of the feast:
Last week we gave tours to two groups from Eckley Miner’s Village, who so kindly hosted us a couple of weeks back at Patchtown’s Day. In the last few years we have taken numerous field school students and other visitors to Eckley to see restored and reconstructed company town housing and outbuildings.
Last night felt like a grand finale (though we still have much work ahead of us). We gave a tour to folks from the community, as well as a WYLN news team. (Thanks to Ann Cervasio down the street for organizing this!) We had about two dozen people out to share stories and learn about what we have been doing. It was great! (here is a link to the Facebook video)
Today we gave a tour to Kent Jackson from the Standard Speaker, who wrote a great article last year about our dig at Canal Street in Lattimer. We are expecting an article to come out over the next week.
We ended the day with two new unit excavations examining the foundations of the house on the lot to the west. On other parts of the site we are filling up our previously excavated units: a bittersweet process…