AUNT BESSIE’S PLACE
By Dave Cook
This could be just therapy. Our extended family gathered twice this year for funerals, then we had our annual family reunion, and my Aunt asked for a quote last week to tear down most of a garage we all played in as kids. So suddenly nostalgia is running rampant.
How did we ever survive? Sunday morning meant that if they weren’t coming to our house then we were going to somebodies for dinner. Mom and Dad had the front seat with just two kids between them and the baby in Mom’s arms, the other five of us would fight for positions in the back seat of the old Ford sedan. No seat belts or car seats. No casualties, unless you count the songs we butchered on the way.
Most everything was closed on Sunday’s, so there was no place to stop along the way. You either peed before you left or learned to control yourself, like a champ sometimes.
Depending on where we were going we would anticipate activities to delight a decent American child. We were going to drink fresh milk warm in the barn or slide in the oats bins. Maybe swing in the hayloft (the upstairs portion of a huge building full of dangerous implements and animals, normally w/o adult supervision.)
Or any number of games to be played in Aunt Bessie’s garage. (recently slated for demolition.) It is actually an old horse barn from another day, even before me. There was a small loft, but only used for storage and we hardly ever made it up the pull down steps that are actually a full set of stairs on a hinge. Many a birthday celebration was carried out in the lower area, once the cars and lawn equipment was safely set aside. Uncle Norm had a wood stove in there that he would fire up for the chilly weather parties. Proud to say no child ever got burnt. We knew about stoves.
This garage had numerous rooms added on around it. I guess it was even an apartment for Uncle Norm’s parents briefly. I hardly remember them, but we had run of the place after them. Hide and seek until well after dark, sleep outs on the back screen room and climbing all over the roof while on high adventure.
Later, we grew up and our kids were not as enthralled with what entertained us. Aunt Bessie’s garage became only an occasional center for celebration or yard sale. Uncle Norm has been gone for many years, Bessie couldn’t really afford to keep it up proper. They also had a herd of kids.
Sad to look at it last week, all droopy and fungy smelling. Parts have actually caved in over the past winter. We’ll salvage the main structure and remove the rest, clean up the area and go.
I’ve been asked to amputate part of my childhood.