Yesterday's Magazette

6 – Remembering 14 Pine Street

Remembering 14 Pine Street

By Julie Cecchini

There’s the crab apple tree I climb, and Buttons is sitting tied up on the front lawn waiting for Bobby. I go up the steps through the same front door Santa uses because we have no fireplace and when I asked Dad one year how the round man in the red suit got in, that was what he told me.

I’m in the living room now. There’s the love seat that’s been in our family forever and Dad’s favorite chair. He’s sitting in it, his red flannel shirt pocket full of Cheez Doodles as he listens to the radio and reads the New York Daily News. I crawl into his lap, laying my head against his chest, feeling the rising and falling of his breath as I listen to the comforting sound of his heart beat.

Mom is in thYM:PinePix2e kitchen with its bland neutral wallpaper and she’s excited about the portable dishwasher someone has given us. She’s making homemade fudge and soon it will be time to lick the pan and spoon and maybe, finally, time to watch the Wizard of Oz in black and white.

If you look over by the door that leads to the basement steps, you’ll see markings on the wall with notations about how tall Bobby and I are and the dates we were measured.

I go downstairs. This is the hallway where the termites burst from the wall the first summer we lived here. Mr. Viner, the exterminator, came to drill holes in our basement floor, filling each hole with a chemical called chloradane to kill off the infestation. His eyes are bad and he mistakes my stuffed cat Smith to be a real animal, telling me to keep him away from the chemicals. Smith’s demise actually ended up not being death via termite chemicals but in not surviving the swim I took him for that summer in my blow-up pool.

The bathroom is the next room and also contains the hot water tank and only a toilet and sink. The water comes out of the spigot with so much force I never like using this sink. I do like the crawl space here, though, because I am only four when we move in and I can stand up in its dark recesses. It is just off this room my parents call the utility room, where the washer and furnace are too.

The next room is my favorite, the playroom, which the previous owners converted it to from a double garage. It is huge and we have three old couches there and none of them match. The only black and white television we own is in the comer on a swivel table. Fortunately, Bobby and I both love the Stooges, Batman, The Munsters and Gilligan’s Island, so we rarely disagree about television. The other end of the room contains my blackboard, and all my dolls are lined up, ready for me to teach school, which I do just about every day. But some days I play restaurant. For awhile I played hospital after my childhood trips there, making an oxygen tent from plastic for one of my sick dolls, like I had seen at St. Peter’s children’s ward.

The next door leads to what Dad calls the breezeway. It’s a screened area where we have summer furniture and in nice weather, Bobby keeps his snakes and other creatures he’s found in the woods along with Waldo the hamster and the horned toad that never seems to move, and the turtles. There are always turtles. Box turtles like the one with the hole in its shell that Bobby tied a string to and took for a walk. Or the now banned turtles that came with a plastic bowl with little steps leading up to a plastic palm tree.

The garage is next with a white Comet parked in it. Its engine caught fire once in front of the Post Office when Bobby went to pick up our dad from the commuter train at the Metuchen station. The fire department came to put it out. I’m sorry I missed it! There was a burned circular spot on the hood that was never touched up. Then we moved on to the Chevy II. No, there was no Chevy I.

I am back in the living room. There are a few steps of bare wood, that lead to the upstairs. My room is the first door on the left, small, with pink floral wallpaper that goes with the lamp Uncle Jack sent me for Christmas that has ceramic roses on it. These are the same steps Dr. Wagman walks when he makes house calls and he carries his traditional black bag when I am sick or when I have the concussion from Dempster’s dog knocking me to the sidewalk, and Bobby is there playing my favorite Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs song over and over to cheer me up.

The next room is my parents’ room. They have twin beds like The Dick Van Dyke Show. They have two dressers and I found if I let go of the handles a certain way, it was like playing music.

My brother Bobby’s room is next. Blue floral wallpaper but you would never know because every inch of wall space is covered in posters of rock and roll idols of the 60s. Behind his door, though, is, I think, his favorite, Raquel Welch, black and white bikini clad and every teenage boy’s dream. His Fender guitar is in a stand near the amplifiers that cause my father to continually utter in exasperation “Turn it down!”

The bathroom is next to his room, where I spend what seems like hours playing in tub bubbles and where I am taken to be bandaged for all cuts and bruises from bike falls and sidewalk scrapes.

The attic door off the linen closet is always padlocked in the weeks before Christmas. I don’t know if it was a conscious decision to not make the connection. Christmas is magical and Santa always knows what would delight me, like the year he surprised me with the Corner Store and the toy cash register and the newborn baby doll on the bearskin rug and the huge blackboard I use to teach my dolls, who sit obediently regarding me with their blank stares.

The front yard is bigger than the back yard. We play giant step, freeze tag, statue, Wiffle Ball and other yard games. Bobby makes a track in the deep snow for Buttons and me. He builds a space ship, with cool control panels from junkyard parts, in a refrigerator box but won’t let me inside.

I have to go now. Timmy and Beaver, Brian and Kenny, Alan and Laurajean, Janie, and Ann are all waiting for me at the curb. We have caps to bang with rocks and ice cream from Mr. Martin, the Good Humor man from across the street, and the mosquito spray truck will be coming through soon and then the streetlights will be coming on …

Julie Cecchini lives in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania. She is a member of Allegheny Valley Poets, Monroeville Poets and the Penn Hills Library Writers Workshop. Her poems have appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Innisfree, Loyalhanna Review, Orphic Lute, Pittsburgh Boomers and Tattoo Highway.

Vol. 37 No. 1 – Yesterday’s Magazette – Spring- 2010


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