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Down in the basement where I learned things

Updated on April 25, 2013

The difference between a house and a home is often called love, in mine it was work and learning.

When you fell asleep in front of a large fire, with 3 sisters playing guitar and mandolin and singing in harmony. You fell asleep good.
When you fell asleep in front of a large fire, with 3 sisters playing guitar and mandolin and singing in harmony. You fell asleep good. | Source

The first thing you noticed was a pungent pine pitch scent.

When you opened up the extra wide, extra tall oak door going down into the basement you were hit smack dab in the face with pine. What had been a coal shoot and bin we converted to a pine knot firewood storage. About 10 cords would fit down there. Pine Knots are harvested from an old forest. The are where the branches connected with the tree. Chainsaws are used but a twelve pound sledgehammer is the norm. They are taken from fallen trees where the core has already rotted. I have seen a one ounce drop of this sap burn hot for an hour. So through 300 inches of snow and a cold 5 month winter, two fireplaces help keep us warm.

In my teens There was a year or two when all three brothers would play friday night football, then head out and work a sledge hammer. and cut and haul wood for 5 hours every saturday through snow. I remember once, I had a broken nose, the eldest a broken finger and the middle a concussion. Needless to say I learned to drink beer early on.

Sometimes snakes and mice would come in with the wood.

There was a library in our basement. Scouting books and books on how things worked and chemistry books and such.
There was a library in our basement. Scouting books and books on how things worked and chemistry books and such. | Source

Our house was large -- like the Waltons. I think it was heated with steam heat radiators. About a 100 gallon boiler pushing steam through hundreds of feet.

Next to the heater was a work bench open on both sides with vices, band saws, miter saw mounts and the brightest lighting available. Concrete or dirt floors. exposed piping and electrical. Real two by eight wood and plaster and lathe surrounding us along with dirt and local rock and mortar.

This was a place where you could see how electricity could spark or turn things around in a circle. Where you could sand some wood until it had an opalescent shine that you could finish to make a trinket for mom or gal. You could put together a cool picture frame or dissect a frog or squirrel. Star charts were built here and getting over girlfriends was done here. How to use an overhead drill and how to use it as a lathe were understood by trial and error.

My brother built a volcano and my other earned an Eagle scout down here.

I must admit we had dirty books down here, covered with sawdust, dirt and sweat. They were so dirty we were not allowed to bring them up on the carpet. That was what dirty meant to us.



I seem to recall my grandpa making me building blocks down there.

Used to be dads would hand make their children toys.
Used to be dads would hand make their children toys. | Source

How do you box? And how to you build. Look mom!! All fingers.

Down in that basement you would turn on the radio and listen to Liston and later Ali.Maybe the Los Angeles rams or lakers or Dodgers. My state had no real stations for more than about 6 hours a day.

We would get Tennessee Earnie Ford and the Grand old Opera In about late youth more stations came on and Jimmy Hendrix, Elvis, and groups like the Beatles came with them.

We built things like electro magnets, stools and tables. We would fix broken stuff rather than just throw it out. We learned when to use a screw instead of a nail and a peg instead of either.

And here is an amazing factoid. None of us ever lost a single member of our body down there.

Tools are not play things and play things are not tools.

That is what old grumpy people say.

In my home we skipped over a lot of toy stages and jumped right in with real tools.

I remember when I went to middle school in shop class. They had these things called safety glasses and goggles. Wow what a concept that was. They also had safety guards on some of the power tools. And these fans that sucked the dust out of the air.

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    • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

      Lurana Brown 

      5 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Aw, thanks. :-)

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hey speaking of which I learned a lot about poetry this week from some gal named Lurana? Thank you for being a part of my writing.

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

      Lurana Brown 

      5 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Very interesting---there is nothing like hands-on learning!

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I was thinking about my hub name with surname and family name altogether. And it struck me that that was how it should be, for I am made both by my upbringing. And of course Eric is what we call my Christian name.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      A really cool experience when the lessons and the memories last. I know you realize what a rich life you have had.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      My mom liked to say, if you were not adding on to the house you were dying. Nowadays you have to get a permit to change colors on a house ;-) My childhood is continuing, thanks for the read and kind words and sharing.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      My dad had a workshop in a part of our basement where he built furniture, etc. He and my mother built our entire house. I was old enough to remember when he added on a garage...then a breezeway between the garage and house...and finally a sunroom addition to the back of the house. Our basement was finally built out into 3 sections...his work room, my mother's laundry area and storage shelves for her home canned goods, and a recreation room where we had a ping pong table etc. A door from the basement led to a root cellar where potatoes and onions etc. could be stored as it was underground and cool year round.

      Sounds like you have great memories of your childhood as I do. We got to adulthood with all of our body parts also. Ha! Interesting and beautiful votes.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Me Too Buddy me too. It was fun reminiscing though. Thanks for going back there with me for a time.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't have a clue how we survived childhood, Eric? We had no safety protection at all and still we managed to become adults with all of our fingers. Go figure! I sure do miss those days. :)

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