Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Childhood (09/03/09)
TITLE: This Old House
By Vickie Buchanan
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The wide steps (there were five) and the bordering cement platforms easily adapted to a stage for a one-of-a-kind performance. Or they could become a launching point for a caped heroine who could practically fly.
The best part was inside. The dark wood floors held the scent of age and past families and felt warm to a barefoot little girl. A few carpets covered portions of the floor where furniture defined a sitting or eating area. They were graphic patterns to the adult eye, but a five-year old could find a map to a secret world just by following the green lines. (You entered in back of the leather chair, but don’t tell anyone.) My very favorite spot was the dining room. A huge, heavy table seated our big family—Momma, Daddy, 3 or 4 sisters (depending on where the husbands were stationed) and me, the surprise baby sister who arrived after the other six were grown. There was always a white cloth on the table, lovingly starched and ironed by Momma. Each place setting would have a cloth napkin, also neatly ironed, (Daddy wouldn’t use a paper napkin) and a glass of cold water. Dining might very well include a young soldier or sailor, coaxed to our home from the nearby USO. On the table would be many pretty little dishes holding pickles, preserves, oleo, carrot sticks, vegetables Momma had canned. Somehow she always had enough food for whoever showed up, even though a lot of the groceries were bought with ration coupons. It is important to note that it was my job to pop the yellow capsule that colored the oleo margarine, kneading the white mass in the cellophane package until it turned bright yellow. It was a valuable skill that I performed, one that seemed important to my family.
The prime spot was at the end of the dining room near the front entrance, the Window Seat. I could often be found there with a book and one of the dolls or stuffed animals who enjoyed listening to me read stories. The thick cushion was dark, dark green and could be a forest floor or the deepest, coldest lake, depending on the story and the stuffed animal. It was best on a rainy day when drops would trickle down each of the separate panes of the bay window that enclosed the seat. The drops formed patterns and puddles that were quite decorative, and could easily be used to enhance the current story.
On sunny days I would sometimes be escorted across the street to White’s Park where I could explore the walkways and stand in awe at the strange cacti growing there. A friend named Margaret lived on Hidalgo, across the park, and another friend, Beatrice, lived down the block. They both lived in apartments, but I was never inside either of them. We could meet in the park to play, but somehow we always ended up on my front porch, sampling honeysuckle or flying off the steps into an imaginary world known only to five-year-olds.
I really loved that old house.
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