Thursday, January 3, 2013

1216 Ohio Street

So when we were little kids we always hung out at 1216 Ohio Street.  This is where several of my grandmas lived.  There were various other folks who were in and out as well - mostly Aunt Thelma.  The house was a grey-blue color and was homemade - meaning my relatives had built the house many many years ago and it wasn't quite square.  It contained 2 floors and a full basement.  It was where Christmas Eve was each year.  That basement tho - you may remember it from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I believe they called it the Hell Mouth - bwahaahaahaahaa.

I remember running up, down, through and around that house.  I was a terror.  My grandmas who lived downstairs had a poodle - a little white one.  He was my best buddy.  I would make him run around the dining room table until my grandma chased me with a flyswatter to make me quit.  He would be panting so hard, his little heart just beating away.  I loved him so much.  I have no idea why she thought a flyswatter would be a good device for punishment. Hell, half the time it didn't kill the flies.  On occasion we would go outside and run around.  The best days were when the white bed sheets were hanging on the line.  We would run by and pull out the pole propping up the line and the sheets would drag the ground.  Man that made some old people mad.  I have no idea why we did it other than to just be contrary.  They always told my mom and we always got beat, so there really was no motivation to do it again, but we would.  I think the worst thing we ever did (other than put water in ashtrays, hide glasses or teeth, or hide ourselves when called) was when my brother sprayed my one mean grandma (I'll talk about this later) in the face through the screen with the water hose.  That was a pinnacle event of our childhood at that house.  

I remember always sitting on the floor by my great-grandma watching the "stories."  They weren't soap operas, they were stories - Young and the Restless, As the World Turns, and Days of our Lives.  5-8-8-2-3-0-0 Empire...I can still  remember the jingle of the commercial playing in between each show.  I think I thought these stories were how people were supposed to live for some reason - you know, drama all day every day, great clothes, lots of sex, never a dull moment.  My life didn't seem to live up to that (hence a future blog - What is the truth?).

I didn't visit the upstairs in the house very much.  Another grandma lived up there.  I still don't quite understand the relationship.  I think she was the wife of the brother of my great-grandma's husband.  Yeah, that makes great sense now that I write it out, not.  She never smiled, like ever.  I think I was mostly afraid of her.  She was like a dark figure that I would hear walking around up there and would occasionally see at the top of the stairs the 2 floors shared.  Sometimes I would sneak up those stairs and if the door was unlocked would peer in.  I think I equated her to the witch in Hansel and Gretel.  I have no idea why.  She was alone up there.  Her husband was dead too.  All the husbands were dead.  Sad really.  A lot of women without lived in that house...which leads us to the basement.

Now the basement was and remains the MOST SCARIEST PLACE I HAVE EVER BEEN, WILL EVER GO, OR HAVE EVER DREAMED ABOUT.  It was classic scary movie stuff.  There were 3 rooms all cold, dank and damp.  One had the washer and roller thing that squeezed the water out of clothes for drying.  The middle room had the freaking light switch on the opposite wall and had one wall covered in curtains.  Are you beginning to feel my panic?  The last room was full of boxes and had a wall covered in curtains.  I was told those were hat boxes.  BULLSHIT I SAY!!!  I never saw one of those women wear a hat.  There were dead people parts in those boxes.  It was cold enough down there to keep them, you know, from rotting I guess.  I rarely went into the third room.  I don't think my heart could have taken it.

So regularly I would have to go into the cellar of, basement, to get lunch stuff.  All the beefaroni was behind room #2s curtains.  So I would open the door, Jesus, my heart is pumping...  The stairs went straight down at like a 179 degree angle.  If you fell, forget it - death was imminent.  So I would get down the stairs with the light from the upstairs.  At the bottom of the stairs, I would peer into the room that I am certain was part of all the Saw movies.  The beefaroni was a 2 second run from the bottom of the stairs to the middle of wall behind the second set of curtains without any light.  That's right.  The damn switch was on the opposite wall and the beefaroni WAS BEHIND THE CURTAINS.  It took all I had each day to make that move.  I would stand at the stairs for like 5 minutes while Aunt Thelma yelled at me that I was taking forever.  It wasn't her that was facing all the dead people, ghosts, and whatever else that 2 second run threw at me.  It wasn't her losing precious years of life with the fear of the darkness.  But I loved beefaroni more than I was afraid.  It was worth the potential each day of someone grabbing me in the dark room and putting me in one of those boxes one room over or pulling me behind the curtain and torturing me just below where my grandma was watching stories.  So I would do it.  I would make the mad dash from the stairs to the curtains.  Plunge my hand behind the curtain, hope for the best, grab a can and run back upstairs hopefully before the guy behind the stairs grabbed my ankles and pulled me through.  Occasionally I would grab the wrong can.  Too effing bad, I would eat it.  I wasn't going through that twice in one day.

Funny, even now I think about that basement and all those days being terrified.  Of course now I know if I would have said something, maybe someone would have showed me it wasn't terrifying at all and there weren't dead husbands of old waiting to drag my little body into the hell mouth.  Maybe I didn't say anything because I wanted the excitement.  Probably the latter.  My imagination worked overtime at my grandmas.  I will remember it always.