Bruce Summers, SummooseTales, Inc. is a member of the Association of Personal Historians
The Holidays and the start of the new year are a great time to do some exploring or cleaning out… a few recent basement finds – I took a quick look through my parent’s basement during December and the holidays, I found…
- An old piano (out of tune) that we bought for something like $5 from the old New Freedom Elementary School (we had to take the frame off the door and the lid and wheels off the piano, then used the muscle of 5 strong teenage boys and my dad to muscle this piano down the steep outside cellar steps into the basement – it may never come out)
- My grandmother’s sewing kit, a floor mat from my parents for boat – Summers’ Dream, a wicker basket that held toys for children and grandchildren
- A mystery box with correspondence from the 1880s from my great-grandfather (will need to explore that one in more depth)
- My father’s slides from his time as a second Lt. on Heartbreak Ridge during the Korean War… (I did a voice recording of his narration as we looked through the first three trays of these slides)
A Superfine picture of a can of Limagrands (my family was in the vegetable canning business for 118 years) – See Summers 100 Years
- The wooden wine glass holder that I made for my dad 40 years ago to attach under the basement steps (hmmm… I might need to borrow that for my own home). My dad is still using the same electric belt-sander that I used to make the wine glass holder. It is sitting in the same spot in the basement since we moved in – in 1966 (I remember using this on dozens of school project and to make my own Cricket Bat when I came back from the Peace Corps in 1984).
- Not in the attic but in my dad’s filing cabinet was the original pencil drawn diagram of the Prisoner of War Camp used to house German Prisoners in Stewartstown, PA during World War II… but that’s another story.
I encourage you to checkout what’s in your basement or your parents’ or grandparents’ basement or attic or that bottom desk drawer, then ask them about and record the stories connected to these items and related memories, you’ll be glad you did. (Hmmm… I guess I should call my dad and ask him why he keeps a toy fire engine by the belt grinder)?
This is a second in a series of blogs about basement finds, earlier I wrote… There were two mice, different generations, two different houses, three hundred yards apart…
- I recently recorded a few updates to this mouse story. My mom shared… An exterminator or similar service provider was checking our basement, this was perhaps around 1960 or 61 and said… “Did you know you had a rat in your basement?” Well this was enough for her to promote my older brother to head of the Summers Laundry as a 5 or 6-year-old since the washer and dryer were in basement. I also received a promotion to head of canned vegetable procurement as my mom now trusted me as a 4 or 5-year-old to go down to the basement to bring up canned vegetables for dinner. This was in our home on Singer Road. Note: I recently rediscovered one of the old wooden bar stools from one of my parent’s former houses, I can just about picture my Mom perched high on top of this stool waiting for my Dad to come home to address a mouse or rat issue.
- A bit of back story… My mom explained that our first home on Third Street in New Freedom, PA also had a significant mouse problem… though possibly no rats. My dad’s first cousin had a large black walnut tree and of course black walnuts benefit greatly from being given a few months to dry out before opening. My dad, having been married just a few years, thought that the attic would be a perfect place to dry black walnuts. Well, evidently the field mice, or perhaps they were regular house mice or more specialized walnut mice fairly quickly decided that my father was not really keeping up with his chores, since he was busy with the peak season for vegetable canning at the Summers Canning Factory, so they volunteered to turn the walnuts over each night, while my parents were trying to sleep. My mom was less than pleased to hear the walnuts rolling around in the attic. I was an infant and my older brother was just 2 or 3 at the time, we were not really bothered, I heard on the radio today that “white noise” such as this might even be calming, perhaps I found it soothing as I was taking my many naps during the day and sleeping through the night, though I admit I have no memory of the rolling walnuts. My mother was even less pleased that the mice sometimes got lost on their way to and from the attic and found their way into the interior of the house, this prompting a call to my father. He on the other hand is very proud of the fact that he trapped a record 23 mice in that house in one year. Long story short – my mom perhaps earned her phobia of mice honestly during her first 5 or 6 years of marriage.