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Remembering Basements

Posted by on December 18, 2008

treebough.jpgLast evening I decided I should start to look at things and categorize those items that we should pack for our journey South.  We won’t be needing everything as we have to make a stop back here in mid March for dental and doctors’ appointments.  So I pushed myself off the easy chair to descend to the basement.  Now here the anomoly–the basement.  Ours came totally finished with drywall, paint, a fireplace, and carpeting, not to mention a half-bath.  The builders also included surround sound so you would have the theatre effect.  When we purchased the house it was called the game room, or family room.  Now you must realize there is only me and the wife living in the abode, so utilization by the family was an oxymoron.  So think about this!  I’m going to leave my wife who is watching the 50 inch HD television.  I’m going to leave the comforts of the refrigerator and pantry cabinet full  of goodies.  I am going to saunter down a set of steps to be “by myself” in the basement so I can watch television on a smaller version without the foodstuffs from the kitchen.  And to top this all off, the room added and extra 20k to the purchase of the home.  Here I am, off on a tangent again. Basements have to be the third greatest feature of American life. They are wonderful due to the fact that they are so amazingly, so spaciously, unnecessary.  But I know basements because I grew up with them.  Most American basements are the same. There’s always a trickle of water coming from some unknown source that meanders it’s way across the floor, a clothesline that hangs between two nails but is rarely used, and a dank smell of which its origin is never found but conjures senses of old leather and used newspapers, along with some things that should have been aired out but never were.  Basements are so enormous to normal requirements, in fact, that we almost never visit them. Every dad who ever adventures into the basement pauses to think, “gee, we should do something with all this space. A pool table, or perhaps a wet bar, or even a pinball machine would enhance this. But its just a pipe dream of things you intend to do, like learning Spanish someday or take up home yoga, and never do.  And think back when you were a child.  How fearful you would be to venture down those steps, wary that someone at the top would shut the door and lock it,  jump in the car for Chicago, and never return for you.  No, basements are deeply and inescapably scary, and that’s why they’re always featured in spooky movies.  And then along comes a shadow of Joan Crawford cast on the far wall, wielding an axe. This is why even dads don’t go down there very often�

4 Responses to Remembering Basements

  1. Michael Lockridge

    I am a left-coast reader. No basements. Perhaps it is a cultural divide, an experience that is not always common.

    Why no basements? Hey, I am on the Internet! Google!

    It apparently has to do with the frost line. We don’t have one, so freezing/thawing is not an issue for left-coast foundations. So, no cultural experience of “the basement.” Why dig if you can just grade the site?

    It is the same reason there are fewer upper floors. During several of the building booms land was cheap enough to design single floor homes that sprawled all over the place.

    Thanks for sharing the basement observations. You have filled in a gap in my cultural experience.


  2. GypsyLarry

    I’m happy that I was able to fill that gap. It seems as if the left coast always has been ahead of the game despite the fact that it was settled later. Thanks foe commenting.

  3. Debbie

    Larry, I remember when my basement was new, and unfinished, and you said you’d give anything for this dry open space……seems it has to grow into the dreaded “basement” which mine has…….36 years of things you can’t part with for some reason or another, God forbid we ever decide to move…………..

  4. Donna

    WE or should I say I actually do use the basement. Ours,too ,came finished all we added was some furniture and the tributes to our horses. Shelves of pictures,staues,trophies etc. Here is the kicker-I am the one who irons while watching chick flicks on the older smaller TV which will probably blow up 2/17/2009 or just watches a TV with no sports. But if I remember correctly the horses belong to Neil-yet it is I who view them oftern!!!

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