Alright. I didn't want to ruin the surprise of what we found in the well so I thought I'd grab your attention and keep your curiosity fresh with these gold coins. We never actually found those, but... they're pretty aren't they?
If you're reading this and have no idea what I'm talking about, here is Part 1 of this story.
In the few pages of his memoirs, in 1961, my great-grandfather wrote about the house and mentions that the depth of the well is around 17 meters (approximately 55 feet deep). According to him the water probably came from an infiltration of rainwater into the soil rather than from a spring. I imagine it was the years of drought that made him realize this.
As I told you in the previous episode, Robert provided water to the animals on the farm thanks to the well. He would also use it for domestic needs. For this last use, I can tell you that the consumption was very low. At that time, there were no bathrooms or toilets like the ones we know today.
My mom and her sisters would often spend their summer holidays on my great-grandparents' farm. My great-grandmother, Genevieve, would bathe the girls in a large metal basin.
In addition, a special pump would bring water to the kitchen. Only one cold water tap was used for my great-grandparents' cooking and washing needs. In winter, you could always find some hot water in a huge kettle on the wood stove, ready for use if need be.
But... what about the toilets?
Well, they had two choices. For an urgent need they had the stable with the gutter that circulated in the center or, for more comfort, a type of "dry toilet" that my great-grandfather had arranged in 1960. It was what was called a Turkish toilet and was located in the courtyard. A pitcher of water was placed inside and served as a flush.
Of course they were obliged, after each passage, to fill the jug back at the well. Since the water was very precious back then (as it still is.. hint hint), no fun and games allowed 😞
A bucket was hanging from the chain of the well. They would spin the crank and the bucket would fall into the water to fill up. Their tiny arms did not always have enough strength to bring the bucket back up, so my great-grandmother would often rush to help them and bring them away from the well.
Yes, I know right about now you're thinking "Ok all this info is great but, is she ever going to tell us what was found in the well?!?"
Alright, alright, alriiiight
(Deep breath) On a beautiful sunny morning in the summer of 2009, a team of well diggers settled in the yard with their van, tank, pump, pipes and ropes. They emptied the maximum amount of water and stopped at about 13 meters deep. One of the men then put on rubber boots and tied his own rope to another, who was leaning against the well. He went down until he found a floor under his feet while a third man slowly lowered a long vacuum hose. The evacuation of the mud began.
Meanwhile, my parents were above waiting and watching. They say it was impressive to watch them work. The one who stood at the bottom of the well was so far down, he looked like a small child. From time to time, the worker had to climb back up because he had trouble breathing due to the gases festering up the bottom. The man wasn't wearing a mask either... a little strange if you ask me.
My parents warned the workers ahead of time that they might find a silver sugar bowl, to which they showed no sign of surprise. In their profession, they often made interesting finds. They did, however, admit their disappointment to never having found a treasure - a "real" treasure.
A first object came up. It was a bottle, filled with what appeared to be a brownish liquid.
Being in Burgundy, one would assume it to be a delicious vintage old Burgundy wine. But no, not at all!
On the glass and on the cork one could read: Grandes Brasseries Chalonnaises. What? Some beer??? Looking at it closely they understood the story of this bottle.
In a time where fridges did not yet exist, people used cold water to keep things cool. It was quite probable that, on a day of intense heat and hard work on the farm, a worker placed his bottle in the bucket to then lower it down to soak in the cold water. Unfortunately, the bucket tipped over, and the bottle was forever lost at the bottom of the well. Well, not quite forever... This bottle did turn out to have wine inside, although no one has dared to have a taste.
Not too long later, a spoon pointed its nose out of the deep dark depths. After observing it from every angle, it was quickly disregarded and qualified as a boring vulgar metal spoon, without much interest. They had expected at least silverware, if not gold!
The spoon was followed by 3 metal brackets and a large U-shaped nail. I know, I can feel your disappointment... this does not look like a treasure! The workers seemed to have fun seeing my parent's look on their faces every time a silly object came back up. They tried to minimize their dreams, but there was plenty to do. Back to work!
An old child's leather shoe, worn out and stiff, came up.
This is one object where you could easily let your imagination run wild: a child leans over the well, watching his shoe float a while then slowly sink in. The mother comes running over in a panic. Is she upset because the child almost fell in? Is she upset because the shoes are now forever gone? (they were very expensive back then)
I'm sure you could come up with other versions of the story too.
There were no more laces left, or any of the strings used to attach the sole and the tongue. The water had swallowed them whole.
A small kitchen knife in good condition was also found. After scrubbing it, the knife actually went back to its original place - the kitchen - where my mom still often uses it to this day. Not a single trace of rust. That's what I call quality! They sure don't make things the same way today. Imagine dropping your good ol' Ikea knife down a well, letting it marinate 60 years and seeing what happens?
Then came the moment we are all waiting for. Yes folks, it happened.
The man from the bottom of the well shouted a huge:
"I FOUND IT!"
He had finally put his hand on Robert's silver sugar bowl. It is hard to explain the joy this brought to my parents. It was their treasure... at last!
During all these hours of search, the suspense and constant renewed anticipation to find the sugar bowl seemed to have taken on an immoderate importance. But there it was, barely dented and a bit muddy.
With the side of his sleeve, my dad rubbed the dirt off, bit by bit, when, to my mom's long awaited surprise, appeared the name "Robert" in all its shining beauty.
- Did you think they would find the silver sugar bowl? Or maybe some other scary objects?
- What do you think the story of the shoe is?
- Have you ever found anything ancient hidden somewhere? or been told about a treasure which remains to be found?
The story of an old well and its secrets PART 1
Drawing + Coloring CONTEST WINNERS
The treasures left behind by my great-grandfather #10
Drawing + Coloring CONTEST
“Learning is not a race for information, it is a walk of discovery” - Jane Healy