May 27, 2009

1962--The Basement

In Florida there are no basements. If you dig too deep, you'll have an indoor pool. So, when we moved Up North we were excited at the prospect of living in places that provided the extra below-ground space.

Our first apartment was a vertical half of a 100 year old house. The floors sloped and the electricity was a game of Russian Roulette. I became very proficient at changing those old round fuses. They were located in the basement. The dirt floor basement. With giant cast iron pipes hanging down. My favorite pipe was the one that I had to learn to duck under at the bottom of the rickety stairs. I learned that the hard way. It was a matter of "feel" because the light was a bare bulb with a pull-string. In the middle of the basement.

To the left of the stairs the wall went up about three feet and was filled with sand. I found a kitchen knife sticking out of the sand once. We decided not to dig into that area in case we found a body.

The spiders were supersized with GIGANTIC webs. It was rather frightening.

That was our first experience with a basement.

Then, we moved into the 1962 house. I don't have pictures and it saddens me to this day. I will do my best with my words:

There was a light switch. At the TOP of the stairs. That was cool. I peered down the strong, painted stairs and took courage. When my eyes arrived at the floorspace at the foot of the stairs, I knew I was in for a treat. The owners were avid Bridge players. When they finished the basement, they used the suit symbols as a decoration square in the linoleum. Among other things, they would play Bridge with friends on a weekly basis down in this basement.

I confidently walked down the stairs and turned when I got to the bottom. Couches! An old 1960s TV. A phonograph! Orange walls, parquet floor. Lights everywhere! Bright, cheerful, and even the spiders looked accommodating.

Also down there was the laundry area. Lines were strung the length of the back area for winter and wet weather drying. That was because there was NO dryer. Just a 1960s vintage front-loader (yes!) washing machine.

I could picture the phonograph playing some Elvis tunes for the teenage girls' parties, probably some Sinatra for the Bridge parties. I suspect the TV was stored there when the updated one was brought into the house and placed in the living room.

My faith in basements was restored.


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