The farmhouse I grew up in had an attic just like in the movies. A slightly undersized slatted wooden door with about 20 layers of paint, wearing a worn black latch would greet you with the ultimate creak when it was time to snoop in the deep dark unknown for a spell.
We had a big family that didn’t like throwing clutter out, so Mom stashed all kinds of strange stuff in there. In my eyes, it was just boxes stacked in musty, dark quarters. But to my Mom, they were priceless artifacts that were there for a reason.
Every once in a while, Mom would ask me to venture into the attic to fetch something. So not my favorite thing to do, but I obliged. The strange little door always led to a funky smell inside complete muffled darkness. Holding my breath, I forced myself to stretch my arm (not walk) into the dark unknown, waving my hand aimlessly in the black hole until I felt ‘the string’.
Praying the string wasn’t a spiderweb, “clickclick” flooded the space with dim brightness, exposing a steep ceiling of framework and insulation. The attic wasn’t pretty, but it was romantically functional in an old rambling farmhouse sort of way.
I’d tiptoe on the wooden planks that were layered on top of the rafters, greeted with a cold draftiness that circled around my feet. Shivering and pulling my sweater a little tighter around my shoulders, I’d search for the requested objects of desire, rushing out once it was firmly grasped in hand.
Eventually, Mom sold the farm after Dad’s passing. That meant a really full attic to deal with. So when it was time to clean out the old farmhouse, the deal was, each kid got their own stuff back. Ask an adult with an already full house if they want a bunch of extras that would never really see the light of day again and you aren’t so eager to take part. But it is what it is so I had to venture back into the scary attic one last time.
Grabbing a flashlight as backup, the narrow beam weaved it’s way through layers of irregular boxes, a giant fish tank, hippie clothes and… my toys. MY TOYS!
Cracking open a dusty lid, an Easy Bake oven cradled against my Chrissy doll emerged, along with a mini playback of Toy Story. It was as if all my treasures were saying, “Love me again, please?”
My attic today isn’t quite as ‘romantic’ as the one back on the farm. It’s simply a storage area under the stairway. But what’s more important is the preserved memories inside each and every precious dust covered box.
Jane West with her plastic beige clothing that dated my brother’s GI Joe.
Clackers that happily bruised my hand.
A Footsee that kept me breathless to keep spinning.
Spirograph that always messed up right at the very end of a design, sending the tiny pins spinning.
Barbie and her elite wardrobe, handmade from remnants by my sister .
The bright aqua Easy Bake Oven I used with my brother, in which I doubt we ever allowed any of the cakes to fully bake.
Etch A Sketch, where I felt like the quality of my drawings were going to earn a grand prize.
Precious, precious memories and hours of entertainment!
Mom was right. I’m really glad she didn’t throw much away. Unfortunately, I’ve carried on her trait in a big way with my own son, keeping a little too much perhaps. Which really translates to…
I need a big, dark, scary attic of my own!
Did you keep your childhood toys? Which ones were your favorites?