The story of an old well and its secrets - Part 2

in #story6 years ago (edited)


Alright. I didn't want to ruin the surprise of what we found in the well so I thought I'd grab your attention and keep your curiosity fresh with these gold coins. We never actually found those, but... they're pretty aren't they?
If you're reading this and have no idea what I'm talking about, here is Part 1 of this story.

In the few pages of his memoirs, in 1961, my great-grandfather wrote about the house and mentions that the depth of the well is around 17 meters (approximately 55 feet deep). According to him the water probably came from an infiltration of rainwater into the soil rather than from a spring. I imagine it was the years of drought that made him realize this.

As I told you in the previous episode, Robert provided water to the animals on the farm thanks to the well. He would also use it for domestic needs. For this last use, I can tell you that the consumption was very low. At that time, there were no bathrooms or toilets like the ones we know today.


My aunt Annie bathing in a giant bucket, with my mom laughing in the back.

My mom and her sisters would often spend their summer holidays on my great-grandparents' farm. My great-grandmother, Genevieve, would bathe the girls in a large metal basin.
In addition, a special pump would bring water to the kitchen. Only one cold water tap was used for my great-grandparents' cooking and washing needs. In winter, you could always find some hot water in a huge kettle on the wood stove, ready for use if need be.

But... what about the toilets?

Well, they had two choices. For an urgent need they had the stable with the gutter that circulated in the center or, for more comfort, a type of "dry toilet" that my great-grandfather had arranged in 1960. It was what was called a Turkish toilet and was located in the courtyard. A pitcher of water was placed inside and served as a flush.
Of course they were obliged, after each passage, to fill the jug back at the well. Since the water was very precious back then (as it still is.. hint hint), no fun and games allowed 😞
A bucket was hanging from the chain of the well. They would spin the crank and the bucket would fall into the water to fill up. Their tiny arms did not always have enough strength to bring the bucket back up, so my great-grandmother would often rush to help them and bring them away from the well.

Yes, I know right about now you're thinking "Ok all this info is great but, is she ever going to tell us what was found in the well?!?"

Alright, alright, alriiiight

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(Deep breath) On a beautiful sunny morning in the summer of 2009, a team of well diggers settled in the yard with their van, tank, pump, pipes and ropes. They emptied the maximum amount of water and stopped at about 13 meters deep. One of the men then put on rubber boots and tied his own rope to another, who was leaning against the well. He went down until he found a floor under his feet while a third man slowly lowered a long vacuum hose. The evacuation of the mud began.

Meanwhile, my parents were above waiting and watching. They say it was impressive to watch them work. The one who stood at the bottom of the well was so far down, he looked like a small child. From time to time, the worker had to climb back up because he had trouble breathing due to the gases festering up the bottom. The man wasn't wearing a mask either... a little strange if you ask me.

My parents warned the workers ahead of time that they might find a silver sugar bowl, to which they showed no sign of surprise. In their profession, they often made interesting finds. They did, however, admit their disappointment to never having found a treasure - a "real" treasure.

A first object came up. It was a bottle, filled with what appeared to be a brownish liquid.
Being in Burgundy, one would assume it to be a delicious vintage old Burgundy wine. But no, not at all!

On the glass and on the cork one could read: Grandes Brasseries Chalonnaises. What? Some beer??? Looking at it closely they understood the story of this bottle.

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In a time where fridges did not yet exist, people used cold water to keep things cool. It was quite probable that, on a day of intense heat and hard work on the farm, a worker placed his bottle in the bucket to then lower it down to soak in the cold water. Unfortunately, the bucket tipped over, and the bottle was forever lost at the bottom of the well. Well, not quite forever... This bottle did turn out to have wine inside, although no one has dared to have a taste.

Not too long later, a spoon pointed its nose out of the deep dark depths. After observing it from every angle, it was quickly disregarded and qualified as a boring vulgar metal spoon, without much interest. They had expected at least silverware, if not gold!

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The spoon was followed by 3 metal brackets and a large U-shaped nail. I know, I can feel your disappointment... this does not look like a treasure! The workers seemed to have fun seeing my parent's look on their faces every time a silly object came back up. They tried to minimize their dreams, but there was plenty to do. Back to work!

An old child's leather shoe, worn out and stiff, came up.

This is one object where you could easily let your imagination run wild: a child leans over the well, watching his shoe float a while then slowly sink in. The mother comes running over in a panic. Is she upset because the child almost fell in? Is she upset because the shoes are now forever gone? (they were very expensive back then)
I'm sure you could come up with other versions of the story too.
There were no more laces left, or any of the strings used to attach the sole and the tongue. The water had swallowed them whole.


A small kitchen knife in good condition was also found. After scrubbing it, the knife actually went back to its original place - the kitchen - where my mom still often uses it to this day. Not a single trace of rust. That's what I call quality! They sure don't make things the same way today. Imagine dropping your good ol' Ikea knife down a well, letting it marinate 60 years and seeing what happens?

Then came the moment we are all waiting for. Yes folks, it happened.

The man from the bottom of the well shouted a huge:


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He had finally put his hand on Robert's silver sugar bowl. It is hard to explain the joy this brought to my parents. It was their treasure... at last!

During all these hours of search, the suspense and constant renewed anticipation to find the sugar bowl seemed to have taken on an immoderate importance. But there it was, barely dented and a bit muddy.
With the side of his sleeve, my dad rubbed the dirt off, bit by bit, when, to my mom's long awaited surprise, appeared the name "Robert" in all its shining beauty.

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  • Did you think they would find the silver sugar bowl? Or maybe some other scary objects?
  • What do you think the story of the shoe is?
  • Have you ever found anything ancient hidden somewhere? or been told about a treasure which remains to be found?


First photo credits to pixabay. Unfortunately, many photos were taken of the workers and entire cleaning process but then stored in a now broken external hard drive. It would have been nice to share those with you... who knows, maybe someday someone will recover them at the bottom of a digital well 😉

This story is a translation and slight adaptation of the one written by my mom in French. You can find her original post here.

Don't hesitate to leave comments, ask questions, and share your ideas - I love to hear from all of you.

To view some of my previous posts, click on the links below:

“Learning is not a race for information, it is a walk of discovery” - Jane Healy

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Interesting story, thanks for sharing.

Make up a luck-related story about the well and put it on a board. Open the well for public visiting. After 10 years. Get someone down the well to collect tons of coins. LOL.

Haha there's the business man! Not a bad idea @fr3eze. Gives a lot more meaning to the term "pump and dump".

Nice story wonderful finds! It made me nostalgic. Haha, I used to bathe in such a big bucket when I was a kid. It's unforgettable!

Agree... those were the best times :) Combine the giant bucket to bathing outside in nature and you've got one happy child!
Cheers @anna-mi :)

I can't believe I missed this post and part one of the story! I just went back and read part one and I have to say I love your great-grandma !!! What an awesome story, and I'm so glad you completed it here. I saw your previous posts about your great-grandfather's paintings and had such an image of his character, which I obviously saw through rose-coloured glasses...thank you for painting the human side of him here! Of course we are all blessed with good and bad qualities, and I think this story is an expression of that for your great-grandma;) Perhaps there was a child who continually left his shoe in the way somewhere, forever being tripped over and one day, your great-grandmother had enough of that too haha

I wish I understood French, because I would love to read more of his memoirs on your mom's post. Your family is so fortunate to have this history at their fingertips...and now they have the silver sugar bowl too ;)

Thanks Lynn. Glad you came by and enjoyed the story.
LOL for the creative shoe anecdote. The possibilities are endless :) I think that's why we actually kept it... because there is that mysterious side to the shoe which holds us back from considering it is completely trash and throwing it out.
I wish my mom's post were "translatable"... I tried, but the letters from my great-grandpa are soooo hard to translate. It would take a professional to transcribe them in a way that fully respects not just his style of writing, but also the whole atmosphere of the war. You would love them though, it is a captivating life he lived.

You are most welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed my little 'shoe anecdote' haha I agree, it's something you just can't throw away.

I remember you saying before how difficult the letters were to translate, but I do believe that I would love his stories!!

Do we ever have things easy now with running water to our houses!! I have never seen a well like this before but on a trip staying in an old cabin in the woods, we had to walk to the creek and get 5 galon pales of fresh water for usage and boil everything that was for drinking or cooking and all the lighting was oil lamps. It was a humbling experience!

Glad the silver sugar bowl was found, what a beauty! I would still consider that a treasure in the well. The rest of the stuff I'm not too sure! The old beer is kinda cool tho. Too bad there wasn't any gold coins! I think everyone sees an old well we think of ancient treasure and a hoard of coins hiding. Great story :)

We sure do. I also made these experiences quite a few times on my travels. Many countries around the world still do not have the same luxuries we do. And far from it! Brings you right back down to earth...

I was being a bit cheeky with the gold coins 😜. I see the sugar bowl didn't disappoint though. Glad to hear it!

Great story. I was on the edge of my seat :)

Cheers 😊 Glad you liked it.

ah how satisfying to finally see the silver bowl with Robert engraved on it. I can only imagine how your family feels that it's finally in its proper place. but i love.. just love! that your great grandmother threw it in there! that little story brings me joy haha! perhaps because it seems like perfect revenge ~~~ lol! i love stories of reclamation and this one hit the spot.

HA! * insert evil laugh *
Totally agree. Although I think my great-grandma would disagree with the sugar bowl being in "its proper place" 😜

Wow this post is like a movie with a great climax. History and great stories of what our loveones left behind are indeed the great treasure found.

This was very interesting. Every paragraph had a new information. I loved it.

Would have loved to see the pictures too but the picture of the silver sugar bowl is worth everything.

The history shared too, and the picture of your mum and aunt was just perfect.Thanks for this lovely post.

Glad you liked it and thanks for coming by @warpedpoetic

I love it! The pictures are so beautiful. And of course the sugar bowl. What a treasure indeed! Have you had it appraised? It would be fun to see what the value is. What a great story. Your writing is very engaging, I really enjoyed your family story! Thank you!

Thank you for the beautiful words and encouragements.
We've never had it appraised. Or not yet at least. It's one of those objects that holds more sentimental attachment than financial I guess. But it would be interesting to know.
Thanks for coming by @birdsinparadise :)

The owner of the shoe was probably cleaning it up with water (and removed the laces before to do that) and it just slipped out of his hands, into the well? That's my best bet haha ^^

Works for me. Your guess is as good as anyone's😉

Nice! For a minute it seemed like there was nothing of interest down there, but I figured you would not be sharing the story if it did not have an interesting end :-P. Cool sugar bowl, and how interesting to find a relic from the past.

Well yeah... apart from the sugar bowl, you could say the rest is just a bunch of old junk. I do wonder what would have happened if my great-grandma had never told my mom the story. Would the bowl have ever been found?
If yes, what an even more intriguing story it would have been... with everyone trying to guess who this mysterious "Robert" is.

Gases??? Where on earth did they come from?

From the earth. Precisely.

Should there be gases in there??😁😁

Yeah a lot of gases accumulate in the bottom of old wells, especially this one being so deep. The carbon monoxide (toxic but does not smell) found in them can be fatal.

U learn somethin new everyday merçi!!

Carbon Dioxide will get you if you're not careful. It's heavier than oxygen so it doesn't dissipate and you add more every time you exhale.
A friend lost his Dad that way. Guy fell into a well and couldn't climb out. They found him the next day, but it was too late.

You're alive Matty!!! Sorry to hear that bout your friend's dad..that's awful!
Don't know much...what's that carbon stuff inside the car?Similar to that one?

That's Carbon Monoxide, exhaust fumes. Nasty stuff.
Carbon Dioxide is what we breathe out. It's not poisonous, like Carbon Monoxide, but being heavier than oxygen, the regular air sits on top of the CO2 and once it's above your nose, you're done for.
The son died too, car crash 20 years ago :(

Oh oops, I thought it was monoxide.
A horrible way to go... absolutely tragic. Sorry to hear that.
I don't know how the guys here made it without a mask or anything. They might have had an extra ventilating tube or something down there. My mom did say they often came back up for air but... doesn't sound very "professional"

Their masks should have been proper to filter those the fire fighters'??

One would think...

I am glad that they were able to retrieve the sugar bowl. With all those things down there in the well, I hope they didn't drink this water!

I'm pretty sure they did! I know, I'm a little confused too.
But you have to remember the water back then would not have contained so many pesticides, and the well might have been a little cleaner than it is today.

Still...I don't think that I would like to drink water flavoured by an old leather shoe!

Haha! Muddy-metally-leathery toxic water anyone?

Wow, what a wonderful story!!!

Part 2 was worth the wait.

Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it :)

well... no "basilic" in the well ? even in the sugar bowl ? weird... mostly, the sugar attracts basilics. Did you find any wish drowned in the well ? for Snow White used to wish upon the well for the prince to come... it worked ! Anyway, if you found the wish for the charming prince to come, and don't use it, I'll be interested ! Many thanks Osmosis for this wonderful story !

Haha! Ca y est on a perdu @tiloupsa, elle est partit dans un délire de basilic loin sur une autre planète. Reviens, Tiloupsa revieeeeeens!
I didn't find the wish but I'll make sure to bring you any toads to kiss if I ever find one 😉 We have loads of toads in this region!
Thank you dear.

yerk, no thank you... I've been kissing all the toads around and not one of them turn out to be else than an ugly toad... above all, I've catch some pimples around my mouth and not a single sexy young or old prince in sight... anyway, if you find a basilic, I would try though ;-) who knows..... but.... if you find a good prince out of a basilic, you'll have to avoid his glance. How falling in love with someone you cannot stare at ? useless... bon ben laisse béton alors, pour le basilic, va ! :-D

A great and well told story. Any of those things, including the spoon, have a special significance when you know they're from a bygone era.

Now for the question I didn't see anyone else ask—if they did, I apologize. Did your parents ever get the silver bowl appraised? While there's definitely sentimental value, I'd hope they'd have a very safe place to keep it.

True. In fact we've even kept the "junk" objects as souvenirs.
No appraisals done but not to worry, it's kept in a suuuper safe place :)
Thanks for dropping by @glenalbrethsen

I had read it from your Mom but read it with pleasure, superb story @osmosis

Merci Marie. Glad you liked both of our versions :)

Wow.... this great looking photography, i appreciate your post

Cool story...Keep it up..

it's looking really amazing...👍

That's all absolutely fascinating!

You are a good storyteller. Thanks for letting us in on your family's life!

Thank you. Glad you enjoyed reading it :)

wow really great ...stuffs that was old and belonged to my closer and old relatives make me think about the years that they lived. And actually in our culture ,meanwhile i am a Turk,after our closer relatives death his or her stuffs are dealt to his/her children and grandchildren,wife or husband and maybe his/her closer friends , brothers and sisters as a memory from him/her.

As i see on the pictures silver sugar box is really cool and vintage...It is a really good present for you from your great-grandfather...

Thank you for sharing and have a nice day...

have a nice day

Thank you for coming by @mnallica. We do have a big family, so inheritance will do what inheritance will do. I'm just happy these valuable memories can stay within the family and the stories can be shared 😊

Great story and wonderful to be able to find those things.

It is pretty exciting. Thanks :)

You're such an excellent storyteller. That's quite the excavation, and a treasure to boot! Such history.

Thanks Katrina. So happy you enjoyed following this story :)

Interesting well. It reminds me of Little House on the Prairie. Thanks for sharing, hehe. I'm Oatmeal Joey Arnold. You can call me Joey.

Nice to meet you Joey. I see you've taught in Vietnam as well (or are still teaching there).
Thanks for dropping by :)

Yes. Was in Vietnam teaching for 5 years until 2017. Good to see your great smile here. Thanks.

@osm0sis good like.

Sandbok pollow me whaaAAaAAaAAaa? Noice.

good .. noice makes the atmosphere crowded, so will the crowd in your posting comments. I'm sorry, that's what I always do, just noice

Hello! Thank you for subscribing to my blog. I liked your home in watercolor technique. Why did not you post new posts so long ago?

Hi @marymik23. Funny you should ask, I've actually completely run out of inspiration. I don't know what to write about!! It's a strange feeling after being so active and posting often...
Anyway, I'm glad you came to see my blog and enjoyed my great-grandfather's paintings. It's lovely to meet you.

Life around is so interesting, so many topics can be devised different.
Sometimes, when there is no mood, I watch feature films in which heroes conquer different problems and difficulties. What inspires you?

Yes I know... many things in life are inspiring, I just have to find the motivation to write about them and not just live them I guess.
I'm watching The Walking Dead right now but unfortunately (or fortunately for some) that doesn't inspire me to write a post!

Maybe the "Supernatural" TV series is better? There are such cute main characters! And the dead too, by the way ;)

Haha! I will check that series out. Thanks for the recommendation :)

I'll go too, I'll look before I go to bed...

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A bit late but wanted to say it was really entertaining reading your family's treasure hunt!

Better late than never ;)
Thanks Johann!