Thursday, February 26, 2009

Story Time... Part I

Eventually, when A.D. is old enough to start grilling us with a thousand questions an hour, I plan to start sharing stories of myself growing up. I want to do this partly because my dad told me stories of his childhood, and partly for no better reason other than stories are fun to tell.

I guess this is a good story to start with...

One of my first childhood memories is of what I consider one of the most magical places in the world. Although it wasn't a castle in a classical sense, one with a mote or a dragon guarding a cave full of treasures, my grandparents' house was my castle. I was the scrawny thirty-pound knight who explored every inch of that castle.

When my parents got divorced, my mom and I moved in with my grandparents (my Nanny and Poppy) whom I lived with until I was four. Their house was on a cul-de-sac, and their yard was immaculate. The paved walk to the house wound from the driveway to the front door through a double-file army of perfectly rounded boxwoods. A blanket of periwinkle covered the beds that surrounded the one large and majestic poplar that sat front and center to the house.

Through the front door were two polished brass urns, from one of Poppy's trips abroad, I'm sure. They were home to dozens of candy wrappers that I jammed into them. They're probably still in there if you look. The living room was on the left, the kitchen on the right. Poppy's orange swivel chair sat in the family room at the rear of the house.

Nothing really exciting was located upstairs except for Poppy's room. Of course Nanny and Poppy had their master bedroom, but Poppy had his own bedroom for his daily 2 PM nap. He had a dresser on the left that was topped by a flat wooden box with a few velvet-lined wooden drawers. Poppy would occasionally lift me up by my armpits so that I could peruse the treasure. There wasn't too much of value in the box. A few silver dollars, some two dollar bills, his high school ring, and a few other shiny metal objects were perfectly organized in the box. I think I asked to see the contents of the box even through high school.

The middle level and upstairs of their house was fine, but the real magic really started happening in the basement. A small den was at the front of the basement, where me and my cousins were often sent to play when the adults were overrunning the living room. We quickly got bored in the den, so we moved our adventures to the crawl space, located at the rear of the basement. The crawl space had about 3 feet of clearance, nails poking out of boards, and a fine carpet floor... It was a perfect playground for children. We would set up shop down there and play games, eat, peruse the old newspapers, and plan out stupid skits or songs to perform for the adults.

My favorite thing in the crawl space was Poppy's tackle box. The box was complete with a thousand of the same size hooks, a few bobbers, corks for the end of the hooks, some pliers, and a can of reel oil. The whole box smelled of the sweet gear oil as soon as you opened it, which most likely attributed to his low numbers of fish caught when we did go to the lake.

Lastly was the back yard. A deck sat on the back of the house that I'm sure Poppy re-stained twice a year. A storage shed was at the back right corner of the yard, the outside rear of which served as my personal urinal between the months of April and October. (I don't care who you are, it's fun to pee outside...) A sandbox sat next to the shed (the personal urinal for neighborhood cats when not covered) complete with buried G.I. Joes and army men. A wooden swing sat between a poplar and an oak at the left side of the yard.

The house as I'm describing it generally remained unchanged from when I was about four years old until they moved out when I was about 22. It will always be one of my favorite and most comforting places in the whole world, even if I can't visit it any more.

1 comment:

Special Treasures said...

Tim, I can remember the playground of the crawl space myself. Your mother and I spent many hours playing down there. We usually played school or house. But it was ours and no one bothered us down there. The house changed some from my childhood. The screened porch where squirrels would come in became the back tv room. And yes, the yard and house was always immaculate.