Friday, April 09, 2010

The Spirit of the Floor

I’m going to linger for only one more day on old places. One thing I find charming is an old worn floor. I’m not talking about a business that doesn’t care about its appearance and neglects upkeep. I’m talking about a floor that is clean, but one that has earned veneration through decades of foot traffic. I love seeing a shop where the floor is well worn at the entrance. This is a shop that that marks time one and two feet at a time at a time. This is a shop doesn’t need a welcome mat; the welcome message is warn into the floor by those that have been welcomed there before. You are welcomed by the ghosts of eons of shod feet that previously crossed that threshold.

Though you can detect that layers of linoleum and paint have been worn away to expose a wooden or concrete floor at the base, there is a good feeling about it because it is smooth and clean.

A long while ago I wrote of an old diner in my home town. This diner had brick steps. Most foot traffic came to these steps from the left. People would place their foot on the first step and pivot their direction to head up to the door. After generations of feet doing this the first couple of bricks were worn into a bowl shape. When it rained the water that collected was close to two inches deep in this bowl shaped rut.

I guess I’m trying to raise awareness of the floors we walk on. I’m not talking about the floor at your local super market that will be replaced every couple of years because of so much traffic. I’m talking about the floor that is the very skin and bones of the establishment. One on which we are honored to walk upon.


Blogger darev2005 said...

One of the best places I have seen for worn down stone is military bases. The US Army can wear down anything, given enough time and the manpower. I went into an old store once years ago and the wooden floor was so worn down in places it was like walking on a trampoline. The stuff on the shelves would wobble when you walked by. I spent the whole time hoping I didn't suddenly end up in the basement.

7:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in a small farmhouse that is about 120 years old. A basement was put under the house when indoor plumbing was installed, maybe 100 years ago. The basement is still unfinished, but the wood stairs have the bowl-shaped imprints of a hundred years of people going up and down them to use the bathroom and do laundry. Unfortunately when we sell, the house will be torn down to build something big and shiny. I've always thought I'd like to take the stairs with me.

7:15 AM  
Blogger The elderly guy said...

You mentioned the door at the Olney store yesterday, the floor there tell a story of thousands of cork boots making a bee line for the back of the store where an ice cold six pack of Blitz Weinhard was ready and waiting to provide a refreshing lager for a logger.

11:50 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Darev, I loved the line " The US Army can wear down anything." Though I've never served, this is probably the reason I didn't enlist.

Anon, Thanks for the idea for another post in the future. I know what you mean. I grew up in a house that was built in 1860. 100+ years of use sure can give character to something that is used often.

Elderly Guy, there is nothing like a cork boot to enhance and speed the aging process. There used to be and maybe still are some signs that say No Cork Books at entrances of stores. The last one I saw was at the mini mart by the Astoria Chamber Office.

When I was selling the last house I lived in I had an open house. There was a linoleum floor in the kitchen that was pocked with impressions from high heels that the women agents wore.

5:50 AM  

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