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Lavern and Shirley wallpaper the Homestead

A story by Susan Butler Czaja

Preface by David Butler: In September 2001, I convinced my sisters that they should re-wallpaper the dining room at the homestead. The old paper had been installed by our mother somewhere around 1970, so it was definitely time for a change. I bought the paper and flew back to Seattle. Like true sisters they dove into the project and perservered. Here is their story:


Jackie and I may have found a new career as stand up (on a ladder) comedians. We proved it by staying past the first five minutes of attempting to wallpaper in Cromwell when we realized that:

  1. The defunct doorbell wires ran right along the edge of the doorway.
  2. The motion detector box in the corner was not going to come off the wall.
  3. There was a huge bulge over the fireplace.

and ...

  1. the biggie... the wallpaper was not sticking to the wall over the bulge over the fireplace.

Heck, forget that the wallpaper wasn't sticking, the plaster under it WAS sticking to the wallpaper, but not the rest of the wall. But still not daunted, and somewhat naive about what we would find, we started pulling down the patch that wasn't sticking and found some old spackle over a Chinet paper plate; Mom's answer to what ever was under there. Figuring we couldn't leave that, I pounded on it with a hammer until it mostly came off. So now we have a hole about the size of a dinner plate with the old flue of some stove or other filling up the center, with a cap over it, and some pretty old lathes around it. It was a good thing that Dad was down volunteering at the Tea Garden.

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I'm standing on an actual chair and Jackie is on a stool that used to be a chair, but lost it's back. Very safety concious, Jackie says that Norm would have goggles and a dust mask on. We started to even out the hole a bit, which caused quite a bit of plaster dust so out came the vacuum cleaner. I had my single edge razor box cutter/scraper and we hacked at the plaster to get some straight edges.

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I left Jackie doing that while I went to the cellar to see if I could find a smallish piece of wall board. I no sooner got to the bottom of the stairs when I hear "Ouch!". Fearing the worst (fingers cut off, severed jugular, etc.) I went back up the stairs hoping a bandaid would be enough, but for some reason the cut she sustained never actually bled, though the top of one of her finger nails was cut off. I did find a piece of 1/4 inch plaster wallboard and cut out a piece, but not finding spackle or tape, off I went to the hardware store while Jackie finished evening out the hole. First we ate a bowl of Kix for lunch, then not being able to find a hot glue gun that we thought might be the best solution, together we searched around to find some nails that seemed the right sort. Not finding the right sort, we found some we thought were close to the right sort and Jackie nailed the piece up.

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BUT (and its a big but) the wallboard must have gotten wet or something at some point, as it just crumbled away. I tried to spackle it into place, to no avail.

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