Terri Kaiser

A while back I wrote an article titled Great Beginnings, about starting out in life with possessions that were basic at best. Well, this is also about those humble beginnings, but more about the box we call our house.

Park Falls is getting ready to demo structures that are either abandoned, unsafe, or a general eyesore. We lived for a time in one of those when we were newly married. I won’t say which one, but it was an experience to be sure.

This was an old house we rented while our new one was being built. The price for the rental was right and it had more than enough room for our family. It wasn’t much to look at, but it served our needs.

The most vivid memory I have of living there regarded the first time we used the bathtub. I started to run the water to give the boys a bath and let them splash around a bit, but as the water hit the drain, I swear, a million little black worms sprouted out. We had never seen anything like it and, suffice to say, the boys didn’t get their bath that night. After much work to make sure our houseguests had been flushed out, we did eventually use the tub. But a part of my lunch wanted to vacate every time I turned on the faucet.

Once winter arrived, I don’t remember being in a house that cold. The downstairs wasn’t quite so bad, but the upstairs could freeze your eyeballs. We ended up having to close off two of the three bedrooms to have enough heat to make it through the night, and that was a stretch.

When spring arrived, so did the ants. They came in waves, marching over the kitchen cupboard like the Romans marching on, well, whomever the Romans wanted to conquer (it’s been a while since history class). Anyway, we fought back with lots of Terro and eventually thwarted the attack. Considering the invasion of the worms and the ants, I am surprised we never had mice, at least not that I am remembering.

Then there were the illnesses. We spent more time at the doctor that year than any other. All of us. Someone was constantly sick. Finally, the doctor threw up his hands and suggested it may be the house, which honestly, I had begun to consider.

There were good times in that house as well — holidays and birthdays, wonderful neighbors and it’s where we sent our oldest off to kindergarten. The first time we allowed him to walk to school by himself about did me in as I stood on the sidewalk watching him go, bouncing the youngest on my hip. A new era had begun.

This house, who I imagined housed a few different families over the years, had definitely begun showing its age and just maybe, was tired of it. No doubt it had seen many new births, witnessed rowdy games of hide-and-go-seek, stood by through tears, remained strong through fears, and suffered burnt dinners, poor wallpaper choices, and

You know, mice aside, I wonder if there were any ghosts? If there were, I missed them as I was busily counting the days until we were on the move again. All these years later the house is still there, but it’s time to go. Time for a new place for memories to be made, a new house with a new family, or just a grassy place for a sunny afternoon and a game of Ring-Around-the-Rosie (please tell me kids still do that).

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