My grandmother Christine lived in a rambler house in Lacey, Washington, down the way from an elementary school that had a covered basketball court. When we visited as kids, we’d walk down her street, which was lined with other low-slung houses built in the 1960s, to the school to play basketball and run around. Sometimes my aunt Regina, who was six years older than me, went with us and one time she made up a game in which I was a horse and she was my trainer. She pantomimed opening the door to my stall and then led me into the ring for training, all the while making encouraging little clicking sounds as if I were a real horse.
Grandma’s house had two entries: the front door, which opened into a small foyer next to the living room and another door that you accessed through the garage. The garage entry took you into the rec room, which stood for “recreation.” Both the living room and rec room had fireplaces but the rec room had a TV, some games, and a few toys, whereas the living room had a piano and a stereo cabinet that played 8-track tapes.
The rec room was fairly dark because it had only a single set of windows and lots of wood paneling. Grandma protected the high-traffic areas of the carpet by a using a clear plastic runner that was held in place by tiny spikes that lined its underside, like something you might find in a bank or law office.
A sliding door separated the rec room from the living room so one could shut the kids in the rec room if one had company or one was simply fed up with the kids. Another door from the rec room opened into the laundry area and then into the kitchen. If the grownups were visiting in the living room and the sliding door was closed, one could creep from the rec room into the kitchen and access the cupboard where the marshmallows were hidden. If one were so inclined, that is.
The best part of the rec room was the large box of LEGO that grandma kept in the closet. I don’t remember exactly what the box top looked like but I think it was about 18 inches by 24 inches and a couple of inches deep. The box held basic pieces: rectangular bricks, square bricks, long narrow bricks, and a few green surfaces on which I liked to build houses. There weren’t really enough bricks to go around for four kids so our play sessions often didn’t end well. The box didn’t include LEGO figures or other fancy bits but there were windows and (perhaps) a door or two.
On more than one occasion, we asked grandma if could take the box of LEGOs home with us but she (wisely) declined, explaining that we should play with them when we visited instead. I have no idea where that box of LEGOs ended up but I do hope whoever got them treasured them as much as we did.
Offering: My LEGO Night Bus (from Harry Potter).