|basement (Photo credit: mobob)|
Over the past several weeks we've been all over the place in the story of where we keep our stuff. Many of us in the United States and elsewhere can hardly contain everything we own under one roof. In my series we've looked at closets, drawers, and attics. One place we have not set foot in yet is the basement.
Many houses do not have a basement. Some have a sort of a bottom floor they might call their basement. This sort of partially subterranean room is often another room in the house used as a family room, an extra bedroom, or even a garage. In other cases the basement--or cellar as it might be called--is an underground dungeon-like place of darkness and dampness. Some of these basements may have rough stone walls and concrete or even dirt floors. These latter types of basements are more the type that might be used for storage.
The more utilitarian basement is often the place where the homeowner will keep tools, garden equipment, and seasonal items. It's not uncommon to find boxes and bins of stored items getting relegated to the confines of the space under the main living quarters. If the basement is not typically seen by visitors to the home, the area may begin to look much like a warehouse with stacks of storage containers and old furniture. Those basements are visited when something is needed, but left to gather dust in the darkness for most of the year. If care is not taken, those basements also become the living quarters for unwanted creatures that can cause quite a scare when happened upon.
Most of the houses I've lived in have not had basements. A duplex in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where my family lived when I was in second grade had a sort of basement area that was actually a garage under the house. My parents didn't have much stuff back then so not much was in the basement other than their car. In some strange moment of inspiration, my father purchased a number of colors of paint and painted the individual cinder blocks of the walls with alternating colors, giving the basement garage a sort of patchwork quilt appearance. It was all very festive and quite random. We moved to San Diego after only living there for less than a year. I have wondered if those walls are still painted as my father left them.
The next house we lived in that had a basement was the one in Maryville, Tennessee where we moved when I was in high school. That house had a half submerged basement that was essentially finished with a fireplace, wall heaters, and a laundry room that also had a toilet in it. This basement made for a nice family room. During my college years our family basement became a hangout for me and my friends. Many of my records and books still have a musty basement smell. After I moved from home my parents added a pool table and bar. My mother has it fixed quite nicely now. There are some items stored there, but they are mostly in closets or neatly set in places around the room.
The most intriguing basement of my life was that in my maternal grandparents house in Morgantown, West Virginia. They lived in a grand old house that had been built in 1909. The basement of that house was a dark dingy place with one bulb to light the area. I did not go down there much when I was a child so I do not recall what was stored in the dark recesses of their basement. The one thing I do distinctly remember was the old white wringer washer that my grandmother had to use to do her laundry. After the clothes were clean she'd haul them up the stairs to hang out to dry on a line in the small back yard. Some things from back then are not missed.
Do you have a basement? Is it used for storage or has it been finished for other use? What is the most memorable basement in your years? Do you know anyone who has a bomb shelter?