House

My childhood home was built in 1905 in the city of Lawton, two years before Oklahoma became a state. It was two stories, but the semi-submerged basement and attic with vaulted ceiling made it seem bigger than that. Also I was four when we moved in and I'd only ever known a small one story home, so it felt like we were moving into a castle.

Front/side view. The only time it ever snowed on Christmas. 1985.

We were suddenly living in a home where you could sometimes not hear another person even if they shouted. It came equipped with a janky intercom system, which I assume when it was installed could be used for actual talking, but by 1979 when we moved in had devolved into just a noisy buzzer sound. It was LOUD, but effective. Basically it allowed you to scare the crap out of someone on the other side of the house.

The basement was composed of three rooms, a half-bath, and an adjacent and even more subterranean cellar. No one ever went into the cellar apart from my dad. We wouldn't even go in there if there was a tornado warning. Maybe for nuclear fallout, but it was dark and there were spiders, so it would have to be an end of the world scenario.

One of the basement rooms was the laundry room. Washer, dryer, and clothesline lived there. For some reason that I'm sure made perfect practical sense in the early 20th century, there was a curtained off shower. I think my dad maybe used it once when he was particularly grimy from yard work. 

The second room had a couple of high windows where the basement crested the driveway and was a sometimes workroom for my dad. I don't remember anything crafty happening in there aside from the time he and my brother put together a model airplane though. This room mainly served as the landing zone for the laundry chute and as a refuge/hiding place for the cat, who enjoyed the exposed heating pipes that hung from the ceiling. They were warm and crinkly and out of reach of grabby children.

Room number three was our playroom. It was the largest of the three, was partially carpeted, and had 

a secret passage.

Yes, a secret passage. I don't know the story there. Part of me wishes I did, but another part of me is glad it was so mysterious. It was maybe a foot wide and turned one corner before dead ending. No light, so you needed a flashlight. You could then jump up into a crawl space that would take you into the backyard. We found a small shoe in there once, which was deeply unsettling. I didn't go in there much, but it was a fun party trick for friends when I got older.

The attic was also spacious enough for play. The main space was mainly storage and wasp breeding ground, but there was a tiny room in the back with a door and a window that I would visit from time to time. Provided it wasn't summer that is. You did not want to be up there without air conditioning.

There were two staircases between the first and second floors. One was the front staircase that elegantly curved into a straight path after the first few steps by the front door. Because they were nice and straight, we couldn't help thinking how fun it would be to create a makeshift sled, but that plan was scrapped in favor of wrapping someone up like a burrito and rolling them. I believe blankets and sleeping bags were discussed, but this plan was scrapped by a practical mom wandering by. Mainly I used the back stairs for non-sledding purposes because it was usually more convenient, but also because my dance teacher, who had been friends with a previous owner's daughter, claimed she once saw a ghost descending the front stairs. I refused to use them until high school after that.

Near the back stairs was the laundry chute. My brother and I thought it was so cool. There were doors on both of the main floors and it emptied into the aforementioned workroom in the basement. There had been much speculation as to whether or not a human could navigate the chute, and one day we decided to test this theory. Not being a complete idiot, Doug decided to start his descent from the first floor. 

It kind of worked? He got stuck. I remember running to the basement and yelling up to him. Then seeing one shoe drop onto the pile of clothes. Then another. Eventually he wormed his way to freedom, but it was a tense half hour or so. Mainly for fear that the parents would arrive home and we would get in trouble. Conclusion: Laundry chutes are not for people.

My favorite part of the house was the pool. It was rectangular with soft curves on the corners and a deep end that went down nine feet. I swam all summer every summer, any chance I could get. It had an extra sproingy diving board that safety regulations of newer pools would not allow. You could catch some sweet air on that thing and it was very popular with friends. Our pool parties were some of my favorite childhood memories. 

It can get unbearably hot in the summer in Oklahoma, and though I wasn't assigned the task as often as Doug, I did have to mow the yard on occasion. Yards. Those spacious yards that seemed so full of adventure as a child became too spacious and never-ending when it was time to mow. But the reward at the end of the chore was to abandon the mower after the last blade of grass was clipped and do the Nestea plunge into the pool. There isn't a better feeling in the world.

We lived in that house for fourteen years. By the time we moved out I was seventeen and really didn't remember living anywhere else. I was sad to leave, but I understood that with Doug already in college and me leaving in short order, that was a lot of house for just my parents. It was a great house to grow up in though, and I appreciate the time I had there.




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