I hope you have a wonderful Poetry Friday!  Please visit Mary Lee at A(nother) Year of Reading for this week's roundup.  She (and all of the Inklings) have secrets to share with us!

A few weeks ago, Molly Hogan commented on my "Monopoly" post that she found a Monopoly token between the floorboards of her old house.  I thought that had amazing potential for a story, and it got me thinking … we, too, live in a house that wasn’t built in this century.  This old house was built in the 1880’s.  Old houses have seen so much through the decades: secrets, laughter, heartbreak.  So much has happened within these walls, and I only know my slice of time, not what comes before or what will come after.

It seems that wallpaper is one tiny scrap of history that gives us an idea what life might have been like in another time.  When we first moved in, we stripped layers and layers of wallpaper in this house.  Some were pretty (and some were pretty ugly), but someone loved them enough to cover an entire room with them.  I saved scraps as we peeled away layers of history, and I thought it might be fun to pull them out and look at them now that we have lived in this house for a couple of decades.

So, as you can see, this house had a lot to say about the people who lived here, and the “clothes” that it wore on its walls over the years.

I found this poem that seemed apropos:

Old Houses
By Robert Cording

Year after year after year
I have come to love slowly

how old houses hold themselves—

before November’s drizzled rain
or the refreshing light of June—

as if they have all come to agree
that, in time, the days are no longer
a matter of suffering or rejoicing.

You may read the rest here if you like!


Thank you for touring our house’s wallpaper history with me!


  • Oh, Tracey, I love that you kept these 'layers' and now share them & the poem, too. My parents were wallpaper experts, maybe the time period (sixties & seventies), but I've never had any, even the home I'm in now is older but no paper. I'm reading North Woods, Daniel Mason, right now. It explores the history of a piece of land & the house on it through many years, quite intense. Thanks for sharing this poignant topic.
    • It seems that people don't paper much any more.  My husband and I did exactly two rooms in our house with wallpaper.  That was all our marriage could handle.  : )  I read a blurb on North Woods, and I am intrigued!
  • Treasures, indeed. When we moved into our house in 1978 (built in the early 60's) one of the bedrooms had wallpaper just like the small flower on vines pictured above. I did my share of wallpapering as well, and we still have some in a hallway and as a border in the kitchen. As I recall, wallpapering was popular in the 80's. Thanks for the poem, too - 
    I have come to love slowly
    how old houses hold themselves—
    I'm off to read the rest!
  • OH, my....yes...some pretty. But, some not so much. Those eagles?! Yikes. What a fun Valentine to find tucked away in your old house. Somewhere in the house I grew up in, there is a wallboard with the score of a biology final of mine. lol. What a great poem and sharing of a form of secrets.
    • YES!  I could have nightmares about those eagles.  How interesting to know that someday someone might find your old biology final exam score in the walls!

      Edited on Friday, 02 February 2024 19:29 by Tracey.
  • Tracey, thank you for this sweet wallpaper tour of your old home. I'm glad I don't have to peel off wallpaper any longer. I've done my share over the years. Your house was built in the 1880's!? That's amazing! I wonder what the walls were like even before wallpaper? Thank you for sharing the sweet old home poem too. 
    • It's funny you mention it.  Under the wallpaper, the walls are lathe and plaster with horsehair mixed in!  (At least I THINK it's horse hair!  Eek!)
  • "...how old houses hold themselves" -- This line just exudes love, doesn't it? Tracey, it's so cool that you kept all these wallpaper scraps. I wonder what you'll do with them?
  • What a fun way to walk through the past of your old house! I agree that the most "taking" is the Valentine--old paper, handwriting, stamps, diaries, lists feel positively electric to me, having been touched if not created by some real person's hand.  It was so hard letting some of that go when we moved last year.  Lovely poem choice.

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