The Basement

February 22, 2015 at 8:15 am (Memoir) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I hate basements. No, I’m not sure hate is a strong enough word.

I loathe basements! If I built my own house it would not have a basement. As it is, I only go into my current basement to do laundry as that is where the basement appliances live. Well, at least until I get too old to handle stairs and can afford to move these appliances upstairs.

So, to recap … basements ughh! Basements bad!

Basement Appliances

I grew up in a house with a tiny, claustrophobic dirt basement. Basically, it was a hole in the ground with a house atop it. It was accessed through the kitchen. Down there was the washing machine and various jars with glutinous forms glowing in the basement’s dim light. Here we stored the summer garden’s bounty (in jars and pits) to get us through the winter. We were poor, we canned everything we could – my mother’s mother even canned chicken as she had grown up (of course) before refrigeration and knew how to do this. Canned chicken is good eating!

The farm houses my grandparents lived in also had claustrophobic dirt basements. We never went in them. When they moved, their new houses had bigger cement basements that aspired to be rec/wreck rooms for the grandchildren to play in – we were too old by then to be really interested in hanging out downstairs as the gossip upstairs was always more interesting.

Cold Room

That first basement was avoided at all costs but on occasion I had to go down and fetch something for supper. There were salamanders and worms and spiders down there. There was a noisy, child eating wringer washing machine down there. I knew that washing machines ate children because my best friend missed half of kindergarten when their machine sucked her tiny arm through the wringer.

The basement was dark. It was damp. The light was turned on with a pull chain and you had to go all the way down the stairs to do this. If someone closed the door before you got there you couldn’t see anything at all. Many times, someone closed the door.

Someone, hah. Siblings – older sisters and younger brother – don’t we all have them!

They weren’t mean just sadistic as all children (me included) tend to be. I’m sure all of us, Gandhi included, have shut an annoying sibling up somewhere dark and noisy and scary! Though dark and quiet and scary is no picnic either!

Furnace Circa 1950s

Dark and scary. Dark and scary amidst scurrying spiders, revolting reptiles and supposed ghosts. With only a steep staircase between you and escape – no windows anywhere and why can you never find the light string when you need it most. Stupid siblings.

Why couldn’t I be an only child? But then I’d have had nobody to play with and during a tornado I’d have to hide in the basement with only a frog for a friend. I read, in a book about the Depression, about a farm child who only had a frog to play with. The frog laid quietly on its back and let her dress it in a tiny doll dress. Is this normal frog behaviour or was the frog shell-shocked by the tornado and just glad to be somewhere safe out of the wind and rain and this giant thing was, at least, trying to keep it warm and here it (the frog) thought contently “at least, I am warm and safe in this tiny, dark basement!”

My half-siblings didn’t have a basement. They lived in a trailer. A crowded, shaky trailer. What would they do if a tornado happened by? Where would they be safe from big, strong winds? Would they blow away like Dorothy did? I guess, a basement can be useful for some things. Like for hiding in. Unless you’re in a horror movie.

Do not hide in an old stone and dirt basement with only one exit if you’re ever in a horror movie. Okay! Got that!Basement Stairs

So, to recap – basements are bad! I loathe them!

But, they can also be useful for hiding in but not if your life tends to impersonate a horror movie.

Okay, maybe, basements aren’t 100% loathsome! Maybe just 95% loathsome.

I still prefer not to have one.

February’s posts were inspired by the Ray Bradbury Noun List. I hope you enjoyed them.

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1 Comment

  1. Blueberry Muffins & Red Wine [a letter] | Ramisa the Authoress said,

    […] Solitary Spinster The Basement […]

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