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The house sat atop one of
It was nearly a half century ago when we lived there; the house was already over a hundred years old. It was huge, even more so when considered from the perspective of a six year old. The ceilings were high enough that I believed you could have put three floors inside instead of two. The outside was the color of dark rain clouds, indicative of the many storms that went on inside. The windows were taller than me, outlined in white with irregular black specks where the paint cracked off --- or was it peeled off? There were five or six steps in a semicircular shape leading up to the front door, one of those huge doors that took two hands to open. The inside hallway had beige and black checkered tile floors. When they were wet we could slide on them on our bare feet or on our bellies. My brother and I could hold hands and stretch out the other arms and still not reach from one side of the hallway to the other. When we came home from school that day, Pop was sitting on the left side of the hallway as you walk in the front door.
The house had more rooms than I had fingers and toes. A visitor could easily get lost in it and sometimes when we played hide and seek nobody found us. More often than not we were scared out of our hiding place by a sound, an odor, a hiss, a hum, a voice or even a touch.
There was a big front yard with ‘the woods’ on the opposite side. We played Tarzan on vines that hung like hair from under a witch’s hat. We fought battles against dragons and sometimes defeated Indians, rebel soldiers, the Germans and Japanese, all in a single day. We found bones in those woods, perhaps from an animal, perhaps from something else. Inside the house we battled apparitions and other unexplained phenomena. Much of the time we were scared.
Down the porch steps and to the right and over a small mound we often walked along a small path, created by the six kids in our household and the dozen or so other kids in the immediate neighborhood. The weeds to one side of the path tickled my knees, but of course my knees were closer to the ground then. Up over and down another small hill a ways was a secret cave where we hid from our parents and smoked cigarettes. The older kids told stories we little ones shouldn’t have heard and they frightened us with four letter words – kill, hate, beat, rape, dead and so on. On good days in the caves, we dreamed the kind of dreams that took us away from the house.
From this cave we could see down the tall buildings and bright lights of