His house, an edifice of dilapidated wood, reminds me of age. The white siding showed evidence of neglect. Paint chips had fallen off and collected on the window ledge and shudders, leaving small patches of wood showing. The shudders were brown and rough, like that of the bark of an old tree. Hanging askew, they gave the impression of experience. Before the front entrance stood a moss enclosed porch. The moss hung off the porch like motionless waves of the sea. Mounted in the porch stood a cast iron rail, while crooked, it still displayed the same strength as though it were new.
A rickety old mailbox was erected next to the porch. The post had decayed from so many years of weathering; it amazed me that it still endured. The numbers on the mailbox were reminiscent of the seemingly ages that he’d been living there. As I recollect, they had always been there, each crudely dangling by their own minute nails. Each number showed signs of, long-since-faded, gold embossment, with spots of rust freckling their surface. The door looked like a ramshackle collection of scrap wood and glass hung loosely on its hinges. Down the steps and larger than life was the yard.
The front yard was a vast expanse of green, covered by sticks, which had fallen from the “great tree”. The “great tree,” as I called it, was a colossal tree that seemed to go all the way to the heavens. I often wondered what would happen if I could reach the top. There were lilac trees, which lined both sides of the front yard, leaving only a gap for the driveway that came through from the road. A gate, made from semi-bent steel bars and chicken wire, blocked the entranceway. The driveway, two strips of concrete separated by a grass median, led back to the garage.
The garage, like the house, also had a lot of years behind it. The roof of the garage was made of reddish shingles, which, due to age, were falling apart. Just outside the main garage door were two half-barrels, one on each side. These barrels smelt with a combination of Old Italian wine and freshly placed soil. Next to the barrels, lying on the ground was a collection of miscellaneous gardening tools, a small spade, a cultivator, a pair of trimming shears, and a tulip planter. Also sitting next to one of the finger like extensions of the cultivator was a small bag of seed packets.
These seeds were the usual seeds my grandfather used for his garden. There were tomato, cucumber, and bell and chili pepper seeds. There were also squash, pumpkin, and watermelon seeds. Hanging on the side door to the garage was an old fireman’s axe. The axe still shone with cherry red radiance, and the blade was a shimmering metallic sharpness in the afternoon sun. Inside the garage was cluttered with boxes full of odds and ends from TVs, radios, and other diverse electronic equipment. Behind the boxes was an old workbench.
This is where I can remember my grandfather doing his handiwork making picnic tables, fixing electronics, and sometimes just sitting drinking a beer thinking about what we would do next. The workbench was littered with a wealth of tools and devices, which I would only dream about what they could be used for. In a clearing, in the middle of the boxes, was an old bullet heater. I remember my grandfather telling me one winter afternoon to stay clear of its head because it would get red hot. In the other half of the garage was my grandfather’s prized possession: his red 1992 Thunderbird.
He always used to tell me that one day he would allow me to drive it. The Thunderbird had only 1,000 miles on it and it was always spotless. Just outside the garage was the back yard. This is where I remember spending my days running around in the waist-high grass pretending that I was in a jungle. In the center of the yard was a large satellite dish. It was a large black ominous monstrosity, which seemed to turn of its own free will. Next to the satellite dish on the right side was a sandbox my grandfather and I had built one summer.
On the other side of the yard near the house stood a crabapple tree. There was one year when I was four and a half that I went outside and saw a rose blooming out of the side of the tree. When I asked my grandfather why the rose was there he said, “Maybe the tree is having a good day. ” In the back of the yard was an old tree, not as old and wise as the “great tree” but still a very old tree. Inscribed on the base of the tree were the initials D. S. W. and A. G. C. these were the initials of my parents before they had gotten married.
Behind the garage was the garden, which in the summer was flourishing with fruits, melons, and vegetables. Beside the garden was a very large compost bin my grandfather put his grass clippings in. Every time I would go to my grandfather’s house I would find something else that seemed to make me ponder the workings of life. It was always a place where I could explore the unknown and find the answer to the question, “What should I do today? ” There was always a sense of adventure and excitement. These are the memories of my grandfather’s house.