Saturday, March 15, 2008

wanna go for a ride?

Ben and I were having a meandering morning conversation at breakfast when he mentioned something about "putting up preserves." I immediately pictured The Spider Room in the basement of our old house with one lonely jar of preserved something sitting on one of the shelves. The preserves were already there when we moved in in the spring of 1955, and as far as I know were sitting there still when my parents moved out more than twenty years later.

The Spider Room? Doesn't every house have one? Hm-m-m... perhaps not any more. It was a small room in the basement of our house on West 6th street that was lined with shelves. It was where the conscientious 19th-century homemaker would have stored the fruits of her hard work throughout the late summer months. Gleaming jars of canned tomatoes and pickles and jams and jellies would have filled the shelves of the cool, dark room.

It probably wasn't festooned with spider webs back then, the way it was when our young family moved in. By naming it "The Spider Room" my dad pretty much guaranteed that although we might open the door and peek in occasionally, there was no way my brothers and I were ever going to actually walk into the small room and risk being closed in there with all those spiders - whose handiwork was obvious even to us. We knew they were in there.

It is not surprising that my thoughts should have drifted back to the old house. I think about it often now that it is gone. It is harder to let go of than I thought it would be. I mentally wander through the rooms of the house where we live now and try to find things that we had at the old house. The dresser in my room, the bedframe in Ben's room, the disassembled crib in the attic that my brothers and I and my own children all slept in come to mind. I have Dobbie, of course, the bright red wooden rocking horse that I rode every morning when I came downstairs, according to my dad. It's not much, I guess, but I'm glad to have what I do.

I will come to terms with this because I have to, but the process may take a little longer than I had anticipated. I hope you don't mind coming along for the ride on the occasional trip into my past. I appreciate the company.


Bryan said...

My grandma's house didn't really have a Spider Room per se, but one entire basement wall was shelving as you describe, for canning and jarring of various things. I seem to recall a few ancient jars still there when my mom et al. cleaned out the house for sale a few months ago.

anne mancine said...

Yeah, my parents took that opportunity to tell us all about botulism - seems like it would have been easier just to throw the jar away.

Ben hypothesizes that the room was originally where the coal chute was, which is possible, but I don't think so. It wouldn't have had a door on it if that were the case. And those shelves seemed as old as the house - to me, anyway.