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In Focus

I have lived in my house for about three and a half years. I know it was unoccupied for about six months before that. I know it’s been at least that long since the air ducts were cleaned.

I have bad allergies. I know having a hoard of pets doesn’t help, but it is what it is. I wake up most mornings with my allergies killing me; mainly the never-ending runny nose. Even after taking my allergy pills and washing my face, it sometimes takes hours for them to subside. There were some nights it got so bad I needed Benedryl just to get some relief.

I decided to reach out to an air duct cleaning company and made an appointment.

The day finally arrived. It was time to clean those air ducts. I showed the workers around the house and pointed out the vents. I know my house was built sometime in the 1930s and once served as a parish house for the Methodist Church in town.

There are vents of different sizes and styles from different eras. It was discovered one vent had been completely sealed up at some point. And another vent was just a dummy vent like it was put there to fill a hole in the wooden trim instead of just fixing the trim.

Along with a hoard of crayons and a My Little Pony toy, something interesting was found. While they were in my mother’s room, they found a bag that was stapled closed in the vent. They handed me the bag that said “Gibson’s Discount Center” with a receipt stapled to the bag from April of 1967. That told me the vents in this house had probably never been cleaned before.

I opened the bag to find an unopened box of 126 Kodak film. Being in a sealed box, I know this film was not used. The date on the box was December 1967 and it cost $1.59. I thought this was a very interesting find since I went to college for photography and worked in a photo lab for many years. These particular cartridges were typically used in instant cameras and the cartridges were introduced in 1963. Kodak stopped manufacturing them in 2008 and not many film processors can process them anymore.

I remember these cartridges well as they had to be opened in a dark room or dark box. You had to break these cartridges, carefully, in half, roll up the film, and put in a sealed film canister with just enough of the end of the film exposed to attach it to a card to run it through the film developing process. This definitely brought back some old memories for me.

The Gibson’s bag was also interesting. I Googled this store and found that Herbert and Belva Gibson opened Gibson Products Co., a wholesale novelty company, in 1936 in Abilene, Texas. They refocused on discount stores, opening the first Gibson’s Discount Center in Abilene in 1960. At one point, Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, offered to purchase the franchise. Nothing ever came of it. In 1978, they had 684 stores across the U.S. Their largest chain, Pamida, began to open discount stores under the Pamida name. The stores went defunct in 2003.

There was a Gibson’s located in Wadena at some point. I was told by a local historian that it was on Main Street where the Wadena Pioneer Journal used to be located.

While these objects found in my vents hold no monetary value, they are interesting finds from the past.

It was also great to wake up the next day with no allergies trying to suffocate me. My house smells great and I wish I would have done this sooner! Plus, I have the peace of mind knowing I may have reduced a potential fire hazard from a dirty dryer vent and having a dirty furnace.

In my opinion, the improved air quality is absolutely worth every penny!



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