Growing Up Leota: What it Was, Was A Cellar
When I tell someone who's walking around in a younger person's skin that when I was growing up we had a cellar, they might ask 'Oh, a wine cellar?'
Uh...not exactly. And anyway, when the older folks' had wine, which was maybe once or twice a year, they didn't find it necessary to store the Mogen David in a wine cellar.
'Oh, you mean a basement?'
Uh...not exactly. If there was a cement floor in our cellar, it was well hidden beneath 6 feet or so of dirt. And the only carpet that cellar ever saw was made by spiders and would stick to your shoes.
'Oh, you mean a tornado shelter?'
OK, now you're getting a bit closer, young fella. I do remember a couple of occasions when that cellar served mighty fine from the wind and falling branches and trees (one time in particular, if I remember right, was the night of the 4th of July).
But to be a bit more precise, the cellar was what you walked down into after you opened the door on the floor.
When you came into our house through the back porch (very, very seldom did we use the door on the front porch. Why? I dunno, we didn't, and let's just leave it at that) you'd notice there to your right down on the floor, a door with a latch. Lift that door up (with some effort, this is a floor after all) and hook the latch on the hook on the wall, and...there it is.
The wooden stairs leading down to....well, a great memory that in reality was dark, damp, and was home to a number of things that moved when the light bulb was switched on. And don't worry about that brushing that caressed your cheek, it's just a fresh spider web.
Well of course the floor is dirt, what'd you expect? It's a cellar remember? And just off to the left there, that's Mom's washing machine (And yes, it was Mom's...I'm not being sexist, I don't think I ever saw Dad touch it). That washing machine is a teacher, too. You get a finger caught in that wringer one time, you learn never to let that happen again. And where's the dryer you ask? Oh, that's out on the front lawn, those wires hanging between those two posts. That dryer out there didn't have to be set on 'delicate' or 'permanent press' or 'heavy duty', it was smart enough to know which was which I guess.
But back here in the cellar, see that little room off to the back? You go and meander in there and you'll find some good stuff. Canned meat especially. Really, was there anything better than when Mom would go down, get some canned meat, and fire up the kitchen stove?
There were other treasures down in the cellar too, neat treasures....but most people would call it junk and I'd just as soon not hear that. So let's head back up the stairs....watch your head, for cryin' out loud!...and ease the door back shut. You don't ever want to leave that cellar door open by mistake because one step back and you're (as my dear departed Dad used to say) ass-over-tea-kettle into the cellar.
Oh and one more thing...there was the one time when a civet cat somehow got into the cellar (there may have been a few holes along the foundation around the house) and...well, that's another story for another day. Suffice to say we spent a couple of days over at Howard and Lorraine's while the house aired out.