Tuesday, July 17, 2012


         My parents parked their car in the garage. A rare phenomenon in today’s world, but fairly common in my youth. Most of our neighbors kept their single car sheltered in the garage each evening. Fathers headed to work in the morning, and the empty space became an extension of our play area. Mom swept the smooth surface daily while Dad swished water over the cement every Saturday as part of his weekly yard work routine. We actually had a neighbor across the street who waxed her garage floors monthly (but that’s a totally different story).
         Our unfinished garage became a daytime fort when the sun bubbled the blacktop of our street into an oozy barrier to outdoor play. We’d haul a huge fan into the enclosure, zigzag clotheslines from corner to corner, and create tent heaven. This large space meant each of us had his or her section. I remember sitting cross legged on the cool cement as I devoured my latest Nancy Drew mystery. Beside me rested my little white transistor radio where Bruce Hathaway from KTSA introduced the latest summer hits. Charles enclosed himself into another corner where he feathered a water laden paintbrush over his watercolor books. Some days he played with his trucks, imitating the low grumble of a backhoe. Our tented town disappeared before Dad returned home from work.
         Some days, Mom gave us finger paints and let us decorate the entire surface with wild designs. She added sidewalk chalk to our art supplies, so we could spill art down our long, sharply sloped driveway. Other days, we hauled out our skates and converted the garage into a rink. I remember circling round and around to pick up enough speed that I’d catapult out the front, pick up momentum on the inclined driveway, and careen recklessly (and miraculously) into a 90˚ turn onto the sidewalk. Our garage became home to our own Tonka Truck Mayhem where our trucks performed incredible feats of death defying leaps and crashes, complete with sound effects.
         The house my parents moved into in League City boasted a large, two-car garage. With this added space, they decided to use part of the area for a ping pong table. Whenever they needed to place more than one car into the garage, they’d simply fold the table up on its hinges and slide it into the center. Eventually, my brother housed his car into the second side, but often his side provided space for setting up a train set.

         The first house David and I rented sported a two car garage, but we never got both cars parked inside because of David’s ultra-light. The wings folded up and slipped into a covering and neatly took up one side of our garage. When we bought our home, the ultra-light trumped the car in getting covered space in our single car slot. Eventually, the craft found another home, but by that time we’d become accustomed to having our cars sheltered under the canopy of our neighbor’s huge Arizona ash. The decision to convert part of the garage into David’s office seemed simple enough. We sectioned the garage into two parts. The back part became an enclosed laundry room and David’s first office. We kept the garage door on the front part, moved our old kitchen cabinets into this area, and set up a work and storage area.
         When we began the process of combining households this summer, the little garage became a dumping ground. Odds-n-ends stacked precariously on top of each other. If we didn’t know what to do with an item, box, or bin, we stashed it out of the way. “Out of sight, out of mind” didn’t hold true for me over the last few weeks. I longed to carve out a few hours of time to attack this area of the house. When my sister and her husband arrived on late Thursday afternoon, I knew I’d finally get the block of time I needed. Friday morning, before the temperature could climb, I headed into the garage. I cleaned out all of the lower cabinets, dumped out and reorganized all of the drawers. With a little effort, I rearranged things enough to open up additional storage space for a few more bins.
         Once I shifted enough around, Paul decided that he could move a few pieces of his equipment around and free up enough space in the old office to set up his DW kit! I love the idea of having our garage being a “play” area again. This time no one’s skating in circles or building tents. Instead of the sound of Tonka trucks smashing, it’ll be the sound of cymbals escaping from the garage.

Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman


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