The other day I opened a new bar of soap. As I observed the fresh imprint, I thought of how in fourth grade, we all did projects. We loved them and continue more at home. The soap conjured memories of painting Camry bars with gold paint in my basement. The soap imprinted with flowery vines in shades of light blue, green and white smelled pretty. We gave them to our mothers, grandmothers, aunts and friends' mothers for sachets in their dressers.
Our basement was cavernous, with white washed walls in the front part and a plank door to the furnace, which was all dirt around the furnace, and dingy windows at the top of the dirt wall. I did this project at a large work table. Dad also drilled coconuts there to get the milk then cracked them open. The stairs were open with shelves at the top against the wall that served as Mom's pantry. On the back of the door hung her board for rolling dough. The landing was very narrow. A chain kept the door open a slit for the cats to go downstairs for their kitty litter. Against the stairs the solid pencil sharpener was always ready to sharpen my pencils. A glass pane door showed the stairs to the outside with slanted door to the elements, like in the movie Wizard of Oz. Eventually steel doors replaced the wooden ones.
Another craft we took off with was place mats. The mat, a luminous plastic, mother of pearl color, honeycombed that we wove yarn through the holes. I got extra to do them at home as well, since it was fun.
The Powell's basement was like ours, basically a white washed hole in the ground. Our houses were older. You didn't really play in these basements or cellars. Some of my other friends had more modern basements that we often played in on rainy days. Karen's was circular with the stairs in the middle of the house. Her house was probably a Sears house, old but still in the twentieth century. It did have root cellar, that we only peeked into once in a while. We were not encouraged to go into that part. Mrs. Wencil held Good News Club on one side of the basement, where I learned so many songs, memory verses and got confused about Elijah and Elisha. But I learned more about the love of Jesus in that dim room.
Uncle Dale's was a rec room with carpet and TV. I loved that room. I watched the Beatles cartoon with David and Bruce there on a Sunday afternoon. I didn't get the show. Sunday cartoons were different than Saturday morning ones. Behind swinging slated wooden doors, Aunt Elizabeth had her washing machine and dryer. I only saw that part once. That was the work area, off limits.
We had so much fun in many of the basements. Mom always wished ours could more like some of the modern homes. I think it would have been interesting, I imagined it sometimes. The couch, a TV, maybe a pool table, but then where would I have painted bars of soap or watch a coconut being drilled?