We three kids liked to play on our cellar door. We would climb up it–and ride our tricycles down it. We thought we could show those Duke of Hazards some real stunt driving! When we got brave, Dennis would lift the old heavy door while Dee and I propped it open with a large stick. Crickets, startled by the bright sunlight, desperately tried to escape into cracks and crevices in the stone. It was creepy! Occasionally we would find a fat frog camouflaging itself on the cool steps.
We slithered down the side of the steps, hugging the wall opposite the spiders and cob webs that dangling in the corners. I never could understand the fancy door at the bottom of the steps. It was much too pretty to be in a dingy cellar. It had a brass doorknob and oval-shaped beveled glass in the top. There was a carved wood design on the bottom half.
Half eaten boxes of rat poison laid around, and there were creepy nooks to explore. In the corner there was a huge hole in the upper part of the wall. We kids called it our cave, but it was actually a potato cellar. Dee and I would stand on our tiptoes and peek in, holding the flashlight while Dennis crawled in. It was a cool place to dig in the dirt. Maybe someday, if he dug long enough, he would end up in China! When that happened, Dee and I decided we would hop in and go with him.
Newborn lambs were placed in the cellar during the winter time for warmth. We fed them with a glass bottle with a large black nipple. We had to hold on tight as they suckled those bottles like they were starving.
There was a wire strung across the ceiling to hang wet snow clothes. The east wall was lined with old rickety shelves filled with jars of canned fruit. Some beyond the edible stage had brownish green monstrous stuff growing inside. It appeared to bubble up on top. I wondered when we opened the jar if the contents would expand and ultimately fill the basement! An old wooden table with peeling yellow paint sat in the center of the room serving as a catchall. Empty fish bowls and bird cages hung from the rafters.
Our big brown “McCormick Deering” cream separator was moved from the milk shed to the cellar. It was utilized daily until we sold Bess, our jersey milk cow. Dad poured a bucket of fresh milk in and we kids argued over who got to crank the handle. The cream separator had a good life. Norm questioned me as he was hauling it out of the cellar. “What did you say we were going to do with this?” It has been the center of lots of conversation. It sat in my dining room in Arkansas City. We then moved to Clearwater and placed it in our plant room filled with flowers. Now it enjoys Arizona’s winters sitting on our patio. At times I fill the two bowls with ice to serve pop and beer.
I can always figure out who the city slickers are when they question, “What is that?” I think everyone should have a cream separator in their home–and share their memories from exploring old cellars!