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Monday, June 18, 2012

ESSAY: The Room in My Grandfather's House [Full link to blog for email clients.]

[I am traveling this week.  The following is an essay I wrote many years ago.  I'm running it today in honor of yesterday's Father's Day holiday.]

My Grandparent's house was in a very small town in Eastern Ohio.  The house was over 100 years old , and looked it. It had once been a two-family dwelling, with a store attached to it.  Two living rooms, two kitchens, one dining room, one nook.  The basement was cold and dark, and covered with coal dust.  The whole house was heated by a coal furnace, and "Nana" cooked on a coal stove.  Winter mornings dawned
bright and sunny, snow on the (huge) back yard, and Buckwheat Pancakes on the griddle.  But at night... (shivers).  

Upstairs were 5 bedrooms. My grandparents had one at the extreme end of the house, and my parents slept in my Dad's old room across the hall.  Two other rooms were my aunts' and were reserved for other adult guests.  The kids got the "big" bedroom.  Unfortunately, that room had THE DOOR

You see, the store was closed up and used as a storage area (the "store room")  It had an old out of voice piano that my sister would always play, and looked out at the world through frosted windows.  Above the
store was another storage area that had once been a meeting hall (some say it even had a *dance* floor, but that was just a rumor).  There was only one door to the store room from downstairs, and we used it occasionally since we went in to the piano, and Nana stored some things in there (including a bigger table and chairs for guests).  But the upstairs had two doors, one off of the hallway, and THE DOOR in the
kid's bedroom. 

It was pure torture for kids knowing that THE DOOR was never opened. In fact, I never knew of anyone actually entering the upstairs storeroom by those doors until I was at least 16 (and by 19 my Grandparents no longer lived there).  Now, my sister was 5 years older than me and loved to tell ghost stories before bedtime.  All of my first cousins were at least 5 years younger than me, and never participated, but we had a distant cousin (my great aunt's nephew by marriage, who turned out to be a 6th cousin or something like that) who was in between my sister’s and my age, and he helped her out with the stories.  We even had a board game (called "Green Ghost" IIRC) with little glow in the dark ghosts.  We played it in that room with all of the lights out.

Well, we concocted all sorts of stories to scare ourselves silly. Behind the door was a skeleton (or someone was boarded up in the wall of the storeroom. You know, things like that.  That was one room where we always slept with the covers over our heads.  It's also where I took to sleeping facing away from THE DOOR so that I wouldn't wake up a see it opening during the night.  We had another story, too.  There was an old toy box in the room with old toys from my aunts' and my sister's childhood.  There was an old toy clown that my sister told me would come to life at midnight and open THE DOOR. (It took me years to get over my fear of clowns, and I'm still not overly fond of them...).  Then one morning, after I was too old to share the big bed with my sister, I had to sleep alone on the room.  I woke up to hear sounds from behind THE DOOR, then, IT OPENED! 

… and in walked my Grandfather.

Now, Grandpap was tall and thin, but he was no skeleton.  I think I went screaming into my parents room. Then they went to my sister and soundly scolded her for putting such nonsense into my head.  Still, when I was older, it was always Mom and I that would stay up late watching science fiction and scary movies on late-night TV.  My only real regret is that I never got to see the house in its heyday.  It was dismantled and sold for the antique wood long ago, and I never got to see the dance floor upstairs.  Bees had gotten in and built a sizable hive in the upstairs, which was why my Grandfather was up there that morning.  He couldn't go back out the door he came in because of the bees. 

I didn't spend much time in that house after that age because we had moved to Texas, and more often than not, the visits were at our house, not theirs.  I think I was only in the house 2 or 3 more times, and one of those was a salvage mission.  

I miss that house, and all the wonderful memories, yet I will also always associate that house with scary memories as well!

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