it’s only fair

I helped Eddie down the steps to the basement at my parents’ house.  He wanted to find the toys.

While he chose dinosaurs and swords from the toy area, I wandered into my brothers’ old room–the cave as it’s called now because of the dark paneling, dark carpet, and just darkness of being in the basement.

This room has a closet.  It’s one of those under-the-steps-so-the-ceiling-is-awkward kind of closets.  To utilize the most space, in front of you are two hanger bars (tall and short) and to the left is a bunch of shelves.

There used to be toys–old school Little People– on those shelves, so I opened the door to peek and suddenly the smell of my childhood filled my memory.

It smelled like wood and carpet and toys.

Like children and games.

It smelled like being seven.

My brother and I would open that closet and take everything out one-by-one: the airport and plane, the farm, the school, the town, the bag of people and vehicles, and the box of blocks my dad made.

One would get charge of the school, the other the farm.  One would take ownership of the airport, the other the town.

That was fair.

Each person and vehicle and animal would get set in a long row on my brother’s thick, brown carpet.  Somehow we would determine who picked first.

Each person, vehicle, and animal would get chosen individually.

Like picking teams in gym class.

That was fair.

We would then lay out each block my dad had cut and sanded for us and choose one by one.

That was fair.

After the toys were divided up we would take our stash to the family room where the carpet was laid out in a square pattern that we used as roads.

We would argue over the prime locations for house building.

There would be disagreement over whether it was logical for the downtown to be on a mountain (the fireplace) or not.

Someone would call someone else’s house construction dumb.

Maybe a car would fly through the air.

Eventually it would all get set up.

And then we would be sick of it.

It would all have to get put away, but not before showing mom.  And then later, dad.

And some begging to keep this masterpiece of a town up for ever and ever.

Eventually each piece would be picked back up–each of us in charge of our “picks”.

Because that is fair.

There aren’t any Little People in that closet anymore; my mom has them out where my son can find them.

As I gently closed the closet door and walked back out to the family room, I wondered if my son could smell what I could smell.

I wondered if the scent of Grandma and Grandpa’s basement will fill his memory as a happy time of dividing toys and setting up cities and letting his imagination create mountains and roads.

I hope so.

It’s only fair.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
About Katie

Just a small town girl…wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. I had those same old school Little People. My mother kept a lot of our old Little people toys that my children now play with also.

    I really hate the new design.

    I love this memory.

    My only confusion dealt with your brother’s room. At first it sounded like the basement was only a toy storage/play area, but then you mention his old room there, even though he required help to get to it.

    As an older sister, this part rang true and took me back,

    “We would argue over the prime locations for house building.

    There would be disagreement over whether it was logical for the downtown to be on a mountain (the fireplace) or not.

    Someone would call someone else’s house construction dumb.

    Maybe a car would fly through the air.”

    Ahh, the memories.

    • Eddie is my son, not my brother. He is two so I have to help him down the steps. I guess I didn’t specify since readers of my blog would know who Eddie is.

  2. So, the real, proper little people?

    God, I loved those.

    And the smell of my parents’ basement.

    Evocative stuff!

  3. I love this one… especially now. My grandmother is visiting from Portugal for 2 months and the minute I hugged her, I smelled my childhood. There’s just that certain smell that takes me back to the days of freedom and warmth.

  4. I loved reading this.

    First of all, my kids are in love with our old Little People farm. It resides at my parents’ house and bears one of those old “Property of Don” stickers from the 80’s. Obviously, my brother picked the farm 🙂

    Second of all, I am sure Eddie will love the smell of your parents’ house! I am 33 and still love the smell of my grandma’s house. And the weird thing is that she’s moved and then changed bedrooms in her current house, yet it all smells the same.

    I like the repetition of the “fair” idea throughout the piece. I think it adds to the feeling of nostalgia, because I remember being so worried about what was “fair” when I was a little kid.

  5. It smelled like being seven. I love that line.

  6. I wondered if the scent of Grandma and Grandpa’s basement will fill his memory as a happy time of dividing toys and setting up cities and letting his imagination create mountains and roads.

    I like that line because grandparents are meaningful. My grandparents are sights and sounds that I can smell and hear.

  7. I love this so much. I have many of the same memories of the basement of my grandparents house where the old dark bedrooms were and all of the toys. I felt completely part of your amazing writing.

  8. Great memory. I miss childhood!

  9. Ohhh…I used to do this with Barbies. Set it all up for hours and then be sick of it. The creating is more fun than the role playing. Your story took my right back to being 7…it does have a smell…and digging toys out of my closets with my brother or cousin or neighborhood friend.

    Lovely, lovely.

  10. I really liked this Katie. 😉

  11. What a great memory! I wish I had little people as a kid!

  12. I loved this – it totally reminded me of the many times my brothers and I would do the same with legos… even well into our teenage years. Beautifully crafted.

  13. OK,I’m totally imagining kids have wars over pretend real estate. 🙂

  14. This reminds me so much of the zoos my brother and I used to make using wooden blocks and plastic animals. So much fun!

  15. I just love how you ended this! I love it when a post/writing comes full circle like that. My Mom still has all the barbies in a box, that I used to play with. The smell from that box brings back memories! HA!

  16. Oh the memories! I remember how when after my dad died and we were selling the house we grew up in…how I told my mom that I would miss the way our attic smelled..that the wood and old clothes, toys, christmas decorations had mingled into a scent that I wished I could take with me. This post made me feel the ache for that smell again. Thank u..great job!

  17. It smelled like being seven…boom…awesome line.
    Beautifully written as always. Those little people aren’t as cool as way back in the day when we had them.

  18. TheNextMartha says:

    So sweet. I have smells too. Like the one time a friend and I ate $18 dollars worth of Taco Bell. Ahh. The good old days

  19. JDaniel4's Mom says:

    I wish I had a town building carpet. It sounds like a great place to build communities.

  20. The opening a closet door that opens a time machine. I love the description of the picks. Because it’s fair. I could imagine downtown on a mountain. Makes perfect sense to me.

  21. I like that line “It smelled like being seven.”

    We had the garage…with the elevator that would ding as it climbed and lowered…you made me remember all that fun stuff…they don’t make toys like they used to.