Why at 12:14am does inspiration hit? Sheesh, here goes...
Was covered with black linoleum and dark wood panels. She had large Mexican and African voo-doo masks on the wall and lots of character drawings too. The voo-doo masks scared the crap out of me. You did not want to get caught as the last person in the basement alone with the voo-doo masks or your head would shrink or devil would getcha. At least, that's what I always thought to myself. Still...I loved that basement. I suppose I partially loved terrorizing myself with my wild imagination. But if you saw how crazy-cool it was, and you were just a little kid, I'm sure you could come up with some scary thoughts too.
There was also a beautiful teak bar in the corner with mirrors all along the back wall so when you sat at the counter, you could look at yourself and boy did I love doing that. We would play down there for hours and scare each other by taking the masks off the wall and wearing them. Then we would sit at the bar with our masks on and someone would play bartender. We were like little Pygmies with cocktails. We must have looked hilarious but we didn't think so at the time.
No doubt I was also the bossy officiator of what we were going to play and how we were going to play it. It often ended up being hide and seek as the opposite side of the basement was the laundry area and crammed with more old clothes to hide in.
Every once in awhile, my grandfather, ever the prankster would walk past the door to the basement, open it and shut off the light switch and shut the door. Immediately we would all start screaming in fear at the top of our lungs because of our hyper-active imaginations. Then I would hear my grandmother yell at him from the kitchen above. "Mike!" She would say. "Cut that out and turn the light back on!" My grandfather had a raspy laugh as he would open the door and flip the switch. After which we would all breathe a sigh of relief. Then he would quickly shut the light off, then on, one more time for good measure and leave.
Another favorite thing about that basement was the old 1950's refrigerator that was down there. That's were my grandmother stored all her goodies. There was always some sort of cake or jello mold waiting for us kids to find. We would ask for a *snack* before dinner, be told NO and then go back down with forks and eat it anyway and try to make it look like we didn't. (Because that always went over well at five years old.)
These are merely my shutter-click memories of growing up in New Jersey, but how I love them so.
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