ASG is warehoused in the Greensboro ORD – the Overseas Replacement Depot – built during WWII. This complex had barracks, training grounds, and storage buildings for troops. It was a major staging point for troops and materiel before being deployed to the European or Pacific theaters. A North Carolina Highway Historical Marker stands next to our building.
So what do we do?
Our salvages are usually old houses in and around Greensboro that are going to be demolished. The utilities (water, electric, gas) are shut off so we can work safely on light fixtures, sinks and so on. Sometimes the house is empty. Sometimes it has junk left in it – old furniture, dishes, magazines, etc.
Our salvage volunteers are not alike except for enthusiasm. They come from all varieties of ages, genders, and skill levels. Basically, we are people interested in old houses (or just old things), and looking into something different!
Volunteers don’t have to be particularly strong or have experience with hand tools. They should wear sturdy shoes and weather-appropriate old clothing. These houses are not clean. Work gloves, safety glasses, tools, bottled water and soda are provided by ASG. ASG has plenty of hand tools, but you can bring your own tools if you have favorites. Just clearly mark them, and don’t mix them up!
When ASG has a salvage, a notice goes out to e-mail subscribers ahead of time. We usually do salvages on Saturdays but sometimes we have opportunities during the week. We will try to give salvage volunteers two weeks notice coupled with a reminder a few days beforehand.
For the salvages, we meet on the scheduled Saturday morning before 9am, and load the ASG van with gloves, hand tools, drinks, some battery tools, ladders and the first aid kit – which we usually don’t need!. Each volunteer must sign a liability release before participating. We share the address and leave around 9 am in a caravan. If people can’t make it then but would like to join later, call ASG and Cheryl will tell you the salvage location.
You can spend as much time as you like at the salvage. If you only have an hour, that is just fine. If you can stay until finished, that is even better. We spend about 4-5 hours most of the time.
You must be 18 years old to participate. Dogs can’t use a hammer very well and we don’t want them to get hurt on nails or broken glass so they can’t go.
Once at the site, the leader will review any particular notes; sometimes the owner wants us to leave certain things intact or has other considerations for us. The leader will also give us a priority list of the things that we want to salvage. We get the types of things that you see at the ASG shop – window sashes, doors, light fixtures, sinks, tubs, wood trim, flooring, railings, columns, balusters and so forth. These range in weight from five pounds on up to 250-pound tubs. No one needs experience to remove these items, there is always someone to show you how it is done. Most of it is done with hammers, screw drivers and pry bars. Safety is a primary consideration. So if you are uncomfortable doing one thing, we can find something that is more your style.
And there are a variety of things that need to be done; from detailed things like removing nails to heavy-duty ripping up flooring. If you don’t like what you are doing, let the leader know and you’ll get something else to do. People work at their own pace and take breaks as they wish.
Once we have retrieved ASG items, we load up in the van or other trucks and take it back to the shop at the Greensboro ORD. We unload it, put it away (time permitting) and go get some lunch. Each volunteer records their hours in the book. Each hour that you spend salvaging earns you a $10 credit that can be used for purchasing any of the cool stuff. People that go on the salvage get first crack at the stuff from that salvage.
The houses are all interesting in one way or another and sometimes we perform unusual feats like chopping through a roof to get chandeliers, putting a hole in an outside wall to remove a tub, tearing apart an old boiler to get the doorplate or propping up a porch to remove the columns. We sometimes find old letters, pictures, postcards or other interesting stuff. So far, no boxes with $20 gold pieces hidden in the wall (at least that anyone will admit to!) but who knows what the next salvage might bring!
Let us add you to our contact list for future salvages work!