Monday's Memories

Picture by
Beth Polk Johnson

The Kingdom Under the House
Once upon a time there were 3 children, parents, and a dog living in a house in Camden, AL. Really it was in Canton Bend but that is not even a dot on the map, so we will say Camden. In the summer it was hot as blue blazes and because daddy had built the house in a former cotton patch, we didn't have any shade trees around the house. So where do you play when it's hot and you have no shade? Of course you play under the house.

Now this house was not built on a cement slab but was built about 2 1/2 feet off the ground and was just right for 3 children to crawl under and find a cool, shaded spot to play. It was wonderfully cool, and the dirt was black, dry and just right to make an Under-the-House town.

Our town was marvelous with roads made by Arvin and Sam with a block of wood they would drag along the ground and smooth with their hands. Houses were made with damp, soft, dirt piled in a row and shaped with our hands to form the walls. We left spaces for doors and I would decorate them with flowers and twigs for shrubbery and trees. We would also make other town-type buildings and a farm.

Arvin and Sam would carry many of their little cars, trucks and farming machinery under the house and they would farm, make roads, and drive them for hours in our imaginary town. It sounded like a small city under there with their brooom brooms and eeks for brakes and a unique sound they made for the changing of gears. It was a cacophony of sounds made by contented little boys in their imaginary world.

I would make stick-people out off twigs and dress my ladies with petunia blossoms. These blossoms made great dresses as I slipped the twig into the blossom and dressed my ladies in ruffled dresses of purple, lavender and white. My men were plain twigs for I didn't think a southern-twig gentleman wanted a purple dress, do you?

These ladies and gentlemen and twig children would work, play and live quite comfortably in their dirt-walled houses that I had carefully decorated with boxes, flowers, leaves and whatever I could find. They lived happily forever or for the years of our childhood which flew by.

We could play for hours under the house and never have a cross word or fight. Right, no wrong. It would last for about an hour and then Arvin would have to start disturbing the peace. It was not that he was mean, just a little mischievous and a disturber of the peace.

It would begin with him driving his little car or truck down the dirt road and then he would just "accidentally" hit Sam's car or the wall of my house. He would grin, holler "wreck" and keep on careening down the road hitting everything in sight. Sam would holler "Mama" and begin following and making the sound of a siren and I would holler, "Mama, make them stop" and the fuss would begin.

Then mama would come out of the house with the door slamming behind her, stoop down, look under the house and order us to stop it or come out from under the house so she could spank us. Well, you know what we would do, calm down, begin playing peacefully until we heard the door slam as she went back inside and begin to holler again.

This wouldn't last long, however, for mama would fly out of the house with door slamming, bend down and grab the first child she could get her hands on, order the other two to crawl out and paddle our little behinds. Arvin and I would cry loudly and pitifully and Sam would stretch those great, big, brown eyes and cry softly and oh, so pitifully and mama would feel sorry for us and stop.

Then we would hear her say, "You know this hurts me more than it hurts you but you must not fight." Now if you believe it hurt her more than us, I have some swamp property in Cook County Georgia that will make a wonderful site for a vacation home. She didn't paddle hard but she did paddle regularly. Looking back, we deserved every lick she gave us and more for were a busy bunch of 3.

Baths would follow in the wash tub out back, clean clothes were donned and lemonade or cold, chocolate milk, homemade cookies would be consumed. Often a nap was taken by all, including mama, and all would be right with the world until the next adventure in our Under-the- House Kingdom.

Nuff said,

The Georgia Peach

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