The Old Cellar Door

Mom, Me, CatsHere is the old back yard in all its glory. There were always cats around when I was growing up, which is probably where I attained my respect and love for the furry creatures. This is a picture of Mom and me with some of the cats. The twisted looking tree behind that table is the apple tree I used to climb and behind it is the pump where we drew our water. Just to the left you can see the open cellar door and handle. The cellar was a dank and dreary place. Cement steps led down into an underground mostly earthen basement. This is where the old coal furnace resided along with the pile of coal a truck would come and dump through a small door on the side of the house. During the winter months, the furnace required attention to keep the house warm. To me it was a huge and mostly scary monstrosity that produced heat through floor registers I liked to hover over when I had on a skirt. In the back area, a wooden door protected a small room with shelves to house all the canned vegetables and fruits, and our potatoes.

Not many trips were made into the basement during the summer, but one day my dad was headed down there. He liked to tease and make people laugh. So this particular day, I thought it would be fun to “tease” him back by grabbing the handle on the cellar door and telling him I was going to close him in the basement. As you can see I was a rather skinny little girl. I had to hold that heavy door with two hands, He told me to stop and leave the door open. I laughed, not realizing he was getting serious. I kept moving the door up and down, and the last words I remember him saying were, “Don’t drop that door!” Yep, just like that the door slipped from my fingers. Instead of closing him in, the door crashed on his head! I was terrified and ran into the house to hide. I heard him calling me to “Come out!” I knew he was really mad and I was in big trouble. But he didn’t whack me on the bottom like I expected. I apologized and he made me promise I would never do it again. I promised. Luckily he wasn’t hurt too bad, but I’m sure he had a sore spot on his head for a few days.

That cellar door was the source of a lot of fun. I remember holding an umbrella and jumping off, standing at the top and singing to an audience of cats, pretending to tap dance because I liked the sound my feet made. In time the old cellar door was gone, along with the old coal furnace. When Mom moved in with us and sold the house, the basement was nothing like it had been when I was growing up. I suppose that’s how it is for all children who look at old pictures and reminisce about “those good old days.”

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