Playing in the Basement

Grandma Kc wrote this on March 14th, 2014 23 Replies

This is a special memory from my own childhood.

My sister and I loved the basement! It was one of our favorite indoor places to play. Now this was not one of those fancy finished basements. It was the old-fashioned kind with stonewalls and mostly a dirt floor. The old coal furnace was still down there. Dad must have replaced it when I was three or four but the old furnace was still there and it scared us. We were sure it could spit fire at us or something worse. It had a very evil face! We would run past it to get to the fun parts of the basement.

The basement had a coal cellar attached to it, too. I have one faint memory of going with Daddy in his old pickup truck to get a load of coal at the lumberyard. The cellar was on the side of the house sticking up just a few feet off the ground. It had doors on the slanted roof of it that Daddy would open to dump the coal in. When we got the new furnace it was converted into a gigantic root cellar. Our mom used it store potatoes and squash and while it was supposed to be clean, we found lots of coal dust to get into anyway!

Kc and her sister standing in front of the chimney and next to the coal center.

You can see the top of the coal cellar to the left of us.

But the best part of the basement was at the far end where there was even a concrete floor. This was where we would always go to huddle during tornado warnings, a common occurrence in southern Michigan. That was also where the freezer was! It was a huge chest freezer and if we stood on a box, we could open the top. We loved that freezer because inside it was this huge can of fresh frozen cherries. It was one of those big yellow New Era Potato Chip cans. We had three cherries trees in the yard. I know because I fell out of all of them at least once! Mom would pit and half the cherries and put them in those cans in the freezer for making cherry pies in the winter. My mother didn’t cook much but she could bake a wonderful pie!

Then there was the time she went to get some cherries and the can was empty. Up until that point she had no idea my sister and I were eating cherries on a regular basis. It was the best part of going to the basement. I’m pretty sure my Dad was helping himself to them, too but we were the ones who were blamed. We were the ones who did not get pie.

We were always in trouble for something!

23 thoughts on “Playing in the Basement

  1. Joyce

    My best memory of the basement was the summer we spent cutting paper dolls out of a Sears catalog. I cannot believe we spent nearly one entire summer down there instead of outside!
    You and your sister’s antics remind me so much of those days – we were good little girls too, but still found naughty things to do. We would have been right in that cherry jar with you!

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      I can believe you spent the summer in the basement! With the heat and humidity of those Michigan summers your basement was probably the perfect place to play. We used to love the Sears catalog – our wish list!

      Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      Did you ride your trike down there because it was cold or snowy outdoors? Or was it because it was too hot to go play outside?

      Reply
  2. Judy@grandparentsplus2

    Who could resist cherries? My grandparents’ basement was so dark and scary that when I’d have to go down to get potatoes or onions I’d run. 🙂 My daughter always had a play area of some sort in our various basements with one where she even could ride her bicycle all winter. And, when my granddaughter was little she loved our basement where she rode her trike around and around. Great memory.

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      I don’t remember ever going into my Grandparents basement but since it was a very old farmhouse I imagine it was very scary. Most California homes don’t have them so I don’t know that Amara has ever seen one. I am pretty sure she has never been in a basement like the one from my childhood – she doesn’t like scary!

      Reply
  3. Sandy Siegel

    Those old Michigan basements are scary places! My grama and grampa’s basement was yucky and I hated having to go down there for anything. Everything was dusty and it was damp and dark. And there were a couple of fish heads nailed to the floor joists overhead. My dad or my grampa nailed them up there if they caught a big fish. Why???? Who does that??? They were gross on their own, but cover them with years of cobwebs and dirt and they were downright terrifying looking with their mouths hanging open and ready to eat me in one bite!!! You were very brave to go down in your basement for those cherries!!!!

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      Poor Sandy! How terrifying! We may have had a scary furnace to run by but those fish sound like something out of a Stephen King novel!

      Reply
  4. Launna

    I remember those days too when my sisters and I would invariably be in trouble for something… we used to have a lot of fun though, playing together all day… Enjoy the rest of the weekend Kc… <3

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      We never set out to really do anything wrong – it just sometimes worked out that way!

      We have been very lucky to have a warm and wonderful weekend. Sure hope you did, too!

      Reply
  5. Kristi

    As always, I love reading your childhood stories–and this one even has a photo, too!

    I don’t know if children are scared of furnaces any more, now that they are small and fit in a closet, but I sure was scared of our big, noisy one when I was a child!

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      One of the best parts of those old photos is that my Dad wrote on the back of many of them and I love seeing his scribble and his notes. It is another way to hold on to a little piece of him.

      Hope you had a great weekend. It was just beautiful here.

      Reply
  6. Lilli

    Sweet memory Kc. I love all pies but never learned to make a good crust. I have found a good gluten-free prepared crust though at Whole Foods so pie is back on my dessert menu!

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      I am so glad you found something that works! I joke that I didn’t get the pie crust gene – I am terrible at them and have just given up trying to make them from scratch. I buy the refrigerated ones and I have become OK with that! I am really good other stuff!

      Glad you can eat pie again!

      Reply
  7. Sarah ~ Magnolia Surprise

    Oh no! No pie! What a terrible punishment! (But I’d be eating those cherries too…)

    Growing up in Louisiana, we didn’t have a basement so the one at my grandparents’ fascinated (and scared) me. Steep stairs, a dirt floor, the smell of dirt, and surely monsters down there! But no cherries that I know of!

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      SO has Noli ever experienced one of those old scary basements? Or any basement at all? It was a little hard to even get Amara to understand what a coal furnace in the basement was – or a coal cellar! Must say our basement would have terrified her!

      Reply
  8. Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs

    We had a basement in Minnesota that sounds just like this. Only, I was scared to death of it! I actually was scared of the entire farm house, though, because my older sister used to do all kinds of mean things in hopes of scaring me. It worked.

    (Thankfully we never had to huddle in the basement during tornado warnings. Come to think of it, we had to have had tornado warnings — it was Minnesota! — but I can’t recall for the life of me any warnings while at home, only while at school. Hmmm…)

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      You must have had a basement living in Minnesota! You will have to ask those evil older sisters! Now I am betting that Bubby and Mac don’t have a basement in Arizona so I wonder if they have ever seen one.

      Hope you have a wonderful week!

      Reply
  9. Cranky Old Man

    I loved the basement, hate when they are finished, as a kid it was the one place indoors were we could play and not be afraid of breaking anything!

    They can somehow be scary, I would not go down alone for years after I saw “The Creature From The Black Lagoon”

    Reply
  10. Poppy

    Hi Grandma Kc,

    So nice to meet you! Sorry it’s taken me a while to visit, but I was trying to prep the house for 2 months and pack a few suitcases for my trip home to Toronto.

    So enjoyed your reminiscing about your basement antics with your sister. Boy, you make cherries sound so tempting and cherry pie a real luxury, which of course, it was, especially when it was homemade and available in the middle of winter – heavenly!

    Have a lovely week!

    Poppy

    Reply
  11. KImberly

    My grandparents had a coal furnace and great big old trunks in their basement. Alas, no cans of cherries. Actually, we have a fairly scary basement in this ol’ farm house. Mostly a furnace basement and not big enough for play, or mine would be down there I’m sure. Gideon goes through cabinets, pantry and freezers when he’s here, making sure there isn’t a treat he missed.

    Reply
  12. Joy @ Yesterfood

    Kc, I loved your description of the basement and the evil furnace! We didn’t have a basement when I was growing up; no one had ’em in Texas. We did have a storm cellar, though, and my sister and I loved to play in it. It was always nice and cool, even in the very hottest summers. We had to go down in the cellar at least once a year for tornado warnings. In the little town I grew up in, the local fire department would blow the siren three times to warn of an approaching tornado. One siren blast was a grass fire; two was a house fire, and three blasts meant run for cover!

    Reply

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