Cigar Box Reminder


Lately, my evenings and weekends have been filled with non-carving matters, including tending to the needs of our house that was built in 1905.  When Kristin and I bought it in 1996, the same year we were married, we became the third owners of this humble place in our hometown then in need of a good dose of TLC.  We entered in with little money, but plenty of DIY enthusiasm and enough ignorance to maintain our confidence.  Little by little, we’ve gotten to know this house by working on it and living in it, and it continues to surprise us with hidden quirks.

Two became four and we’ve shared a lot of memories in this house.  Once in a while the house reminds me it needs some more attention.  I kick and scream a bit, then get to work.  This week, as I was working in the cellar, by the stone foundation in need of re-pointing, I found a piece from a cigar box stamped with the words “Old Virginia Cheroots — Medium” (top photo).

Now, as much as I had been trying to maintain a positive attitude, I was not in a good frame of mind.  In fact, I probably looked a bit crazed, covered with grime, dust, cobwebs and a scowl.  Thoughts of condominiums kept passing through my mind.  Oddly enough, that little scrap of cigar box encouraged me.  I guess it was a small reminder that the house has a long memory and I’m just part of the story.

The first owners of this house were William and Minnie Fisher (no relation).  William owned a cigar store downtown and did some horse dealing on the side.  Our little town was growing then, and business was booming.  William often donated free cigars to various celebrations.


Greenville Evening Record, April 14, 1916.  There you have it, a good five cent cigar.

After William’s death in 1932, Minnie lived here quietly, one might assume, except for one morning in 1939 when she was rudely awakened.  I can see her now jumping up, looking out my bedroom window, only to see a dump truck just below, where the front porch had been:


Greenville Record Argus, June 28, 1939


The front porch was rebuilt.  There it is yesterday afternoon.

After Minnie died in 1949, the house was purchased by V. Spencer and Pansy Goodreds.  Spencer was a professor of Literature and Theater at Thiel College here in Greenville.  Pansy was involved in Thiel affairs and hosted sorority gatherings at the house:


Greenville Record Argus, Dec. 14, 1949

We never had the pleasure of meeting Pansy.  She lived here alone for nearly twenty years after Spencer died and then moved, in her nineties, to live near her son in another state.  I’m writing this now, almost exactly seventy years after that Christmas party, in front of a fire in that same fireplace.  But not a sorority girl in sight.

So I’ll make the best of re-pointing the cellar walls, but I think that job and some others can be spread out.  The little garage where Pansy parked her old Ford is now my workshop, and I’ll make some time for the bowls and spoons in there calling me.

Note:  These clips came from our local Greenville newspaper, which, thankfully, is still being published daily.  The archives of ours and many other newspapers are fully searchable at NEWSPAPERARCHIVE.  It’s a great resource.


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22 Responses to Cigar Box Reminder

  1. dchernoff says:

    I really enjoy these stories, which have nothing to do with woodworking but are full of humanity. Keep them coming!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Richard McCarty says:

    Dave, great story / history to be a part of and add to…. Thanks for sharing other aspects of your life in that rich environment… Hope your Holiday time there is rich and meaningful as well… Best to you and your family…!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Richard Hetrick says:


    Thanks for sharing some bits of history about your home. It’s fitting that a teacher of history should live in a historic home and have the same last name as the original owner.

    Dick Hetrick

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Barry Gordon says:

    Fine story and it’s great that you know your home’s history! And well-written as well. It seems you’re quite talented in at least two areas of skill!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reg McClelland says:

    My Dad who is now 90, went to high school with W L Dunn. There business was located in Cochranton, PA. I believe his nick name was “Cubby”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dave Fisher says:

      Hi Reg. Thanks for sharing that connection between Jake and W L Dunn. If I recall, you and/or your dad may have done some work here for Pansy. Anyway, someone who had told me exactly what model and year Pansy’s car was that was always in the garage, but I can’t remember other than it was a Ford.


  6. francedozois says:

    fun that you can follow the history–good luck with the cellar and Merry & Happy to you and yours–

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I confess I look forward to your blog posts almost more for the beautifully poetic writing than the carving. Though it was the amazing carving that brought me here first. Thanks for a moment’s pause to think about the past and it place in it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dan says:

    Dave, I absolutely love stories like this! Thanks for sharing. On January 2nd, I will begin rebuilding my house that was destroyed by one of our SoCal wildfires. You have inspired me. I’m going to make a small box and fill it with a few mementos, photos, and a handwritten note. It’ll tell the story of the house along with with a few (hopefully) interesting tidbits. I’ll leave the box inside the walls as I’m building. The house will need to tell its story. Thanks, Dan

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dave Fisher says:

      Best wishes for your new build, Dan. The story of your home has already begun with a theme of resilience. I admire your spirit as you write this new inspiring chapter! Thanks for sharing that.


  9. treenworks says:

    We’re planning a shindig for our home as it turns 100 this year. Great post. Wishing your and yours a very Merry holiday season.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Michael Race says:

    Nice. Merry Christmas, house. You too, Dave!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Brian Douglas says:

    David, What a wonderful story !! I could see it in my head as i was reading it !!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Jed Dillard says:

    The difference between a house and a home! Glad you’ve discovered all this.

    May your Holidays and New Year bring you comfort and joy!

    On Sat, Dec 21, 2019, 9:06 AM David Fisher, Carving Explorations wrote:

    > Dave Fisher posted: ” Lately, my evenings and weekends have been filled > with non-carving matters, including tending to the needs of our house that > was built in 1905. When Kristin and I bought it in 1996, the same year we > were married, we became the third owners of this humb” >

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Owen Lowe says:

    Wonderful story.
    My family made our home in our 100 year old house since 1996 too. When doing needed repairs and crawling through the eaves installing insulation, I once found a plaid hunting cap that looked c.1950s dropped down between the studs. When buttoning everything back up I decided to put the cap back in the wall. Another project revealed a brass dog license from 1925 in the space behind the shoe molding in the living room. Left these discoveries in place, since who am I to come along and clean up the history of the place? Someday after I move on, one way or another, someone’s going to find my lost favorite pocketknife or that fishtail gouge that went missing years ago!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dave Fisher says:

      Thanks for sharing those stories, Owen. I like your thinking about returning the found objects. And I like your attitude about losing objects as well. Thinking like that takes a bit of the sting away.


  14. Emil says:

    Great story Dave,

    Merry Christmas to you all!


    Liked by 1 person

  15. Skip Florey says:

    Terrific story. It’s always a treat to read your stories and I look forward to them.

    Best wishes,
    Have a safe and wonderful Holiday

    Liked by 1 person

  16. ken belanus says:

    We had a 1905 house in Johnstown PA. Pointed and sealed the stone foundation. Worked like a slave for six years then moved the day it was finished. I call it the house of one ceiling because I replaced all 15 others. I sure understand where you’re at. It does give satisfaction to put a fine old home to rights again. All the waste of New is so wrong. Three hours carving to an hour pointing up I about right. Enjoy the process of preserving history.


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