|See? Really old! And mysterious!|
On the Stringam ranch, we had an old garage.
It was long and single storied with white, stucco siding and very small windows.
At the north end, there was the big garage door.
Opening into a large, dark room.
Which, in turn, opened into the root cellar, described here.
But the root cellar only took up half of the 'basement'.
The other half was a really strange stable.
Well, I thought it was a stable.
It had dividers, forming stalls, though there were no gates.
And it was deeply covered with straw.
The weird thing about this stable was access.
The only entrance/exit was a small window high up in the south wall of the garage.
I often wondered how one could get any animals down there.
Someone didn't plan that very well . . .
No wonder the straw was clean, even though it wasn't fresh.
The small window, however, made an eminently suitable entrance/exit for children.
And their toys.
It was my secret place.
My hiding place.
Where no one could find me.
All right, I admit that it was well within hollering distance of the front door of the house.
And that when my Mom wanted me, all she had to do was shout.
But I felt secret.
The single window had no covering, so, during the day, the room was brightly lit. And there was no danger that one could be shut into darkness by a heavy door.
Like in the root cellar, with which I had a history.
Moving on . . .
One could slide in through the window, toys and all, drop into the thick straw, and spend hours in one's own little sunlit, straw-filled world.
It became the place where I parked anything I didn't want the other kids to get into.
And where I hid the stuff I wasn't supposed to get into.
I once lugged in an entire boxful of old pamphlets and envelopes and stationary that Dad had tossed out.
What a treasure!
I would sneak into my secret room to play with it, certain that, if Dad caught me, there would be
hell heck to pay.
I felt so sneaky!
I played happily for months in my secret stable.
Finally, I asked Dad what had happened to the door.
He stared at me, puzzled.
I explained that I had to crawl into the little stable through the window. What happened to the door?
He laughed. “That's no stable, Diane. That's the old ice house.”
Ah. Everything was explained.
“Um. What's an ice house?
Dad tried to explain to me that every winter, the men would go down to the river which just happened to flow right past the garage, and cut great chunks of ice.
Then the ice would be hauled up to the ice house and passed through the little window to someone waiting inside.
The straw was to keep it cold.
I suspected that he was pulling my leg because I had played down there for months and I hadn't seen one bit of ice.
“Why would they do that?”
“Well, they needed the ice to keep food cold.”
“Why didn't they use the freezer?”
“They didn't have freezers.”
I stared at him. How could anyone survive without a freezer?
“They didn't even have a fridge.”
Okay, now I knew he was kidding me.
Everyone had a fridge.
Some people, like us, had two.
I shook my head. “Dad. Dad. Dad. That's just silly.”
And I went back to my playing.
But you know something?
He was right.
Sometimes dads are.