House: The 1970s Museum

Read Part One – The Purchase – here.

Before we got the keys to our new house, the real estate agent rang.
“Is it okay if the vendor leaves a few things in the house?”
“I suppose so. We are going to knock it down anyway,” I said, imagining that they’d leave a few big old pieces of furniture. We picked up the keys and went to visit our house. It was like walking into a 1970s television set – the old owners hadn’t left ‘a few things’, they’d left everything. Furniture, clothes, all the kitchen stuff, and even photos. Super weird. It felt invasive to be inside their house with all their things. I rang the real estate agent to check, and sure enough, they didn’t even want the photos.

They even left all their cereal; several unopened packets, all with remaining shelf life, and oddly, all double wrapped in plastic bags. The kids took them home and made them into rice bubble sweets. Lots and lots and lots of them.

As to the rest of the stuff, I managed to sell or giveaway most things on various websites or to charities. We kept a few things – some old tools, a painting that Teen1 liked, a couple of sets of cutlery (one for our daily use and one for the camper trailer). I was pleased to find a home for the vintage television set; a fascinating piece of history that now has pride of place in some guy’s self-described man-cave.

Some of it was sold to a television crew (although unfortunately not the authentic 1970s kitchen), so you might just see some old furniture on Big Brother and on an indie film set in a diner…

Unfortunately, we didn’t find a home for the orange tree. It was the most popular item I offered with at least thirty people wanting it; at least until they realised that I had measured it correctly. A 3m tall tree is quite a challenge to dig up and relocate, and in the end, nobody stepped up to do it.
We caught a bit of luck as the six-monthly council clean-up happened a month after we bought the house, so we were able to everything that we couldn’t sell or give away out on the street to empty out the house. Why did we need to empty the house when we planned to knock it down anyway? Demolition companies charge by volume, so the more stuff we left inside, the more it would cost us.

The mystery of why they left everything was revealed when we spoke to the neighbour. Apparently, the owner, her daughter and granddaughter were having a long feud, with the daughter attempting to get the owner diagnosed as unable to look after herself. The daughter allegedly rang the police saying that the owner was attempting to break into the neighbour’s property – and when the police arrived, of course it was a lie. There were other stories too, and it all added up to a pretty toxic sounding situation.

For us, we finally had the house emptied and ready to be demolished. We had all the paperwork, the approval from council, and the electricity was disconnected.

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