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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Childhood (09/03/09)

TITLE: This Old House
By Vickie Buchanan


I thought it was the prettiest house ever. At the age of five I wasn’t a real estate expert, but I knew I loved that house. I spent many lazy afternoons on the big cushioned front porch swing. Honeysuckle vines wrapped snugly around the porch, years of growth, thick and lush, fragrant. I competed with the bees, picking the blossoms and sucking the honey from the tiny little straw at the center of the bud, one drop at a time. Occasionally I would disturb a lizard whose home was the dark, moist thicket of the vine. He would scamper across the porch and I would squeal and pull my feet up under me until he passed.

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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This article has been read 374 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Marita Vandertogt09/10/09
Hey - I remember the yellow capsules in the margarine and squeezing till it all turned yellow. I love your descriptions - almost felt like the memories were mine. Nicely done.
Mary McLeary09/11/09
Vivid images that remind me of my great aunts' house in Mississippi. Thank you for the memories.
Mildred Sheldon09/14/09
Oh I just loved this story. Kind of reminds me of those days of long ago.
diana kay09/15/09
Oh lovely! I put this one down as a winner! The child eyes viewed as an adult. The first line is great and sets the tone for the whole peice.Clever!
Sylvia Brown09/16/09
Oh, the memories. There's been half a dozen or so such houses in my life. One of them, where my future husband and I spent many hours in the front porch swing.
Lisa Johnson09/17/09
I remember tasting the drops of honey from the tips of the honeysuckle. This story reminded me of my Granny's house in a little town in Tennessee. Congratulations on being Highly Commended for your level.