Have we talked about the basement yet? I don’t think we’ve really talked about the basement. The one with the cage? The one that had a 6 ft. long wooden box in it that suspiciously resembled something you don’t want to find in a basement? The one with more antique knick-knacks than a local vintage knick-knack shop? The one with the cage??
Being from the west coast, basements are new to me. Though I would have LOVED to have a basement in Texas – all those hours spent worrying about tornados probably took years from my life. Yea, a basement was all I wanted, but instead I had a closet under the stairs and frequent adrenaline spikes.
But back to real basements. After touring a lot of properties on our hunt for Deep Eaves, we became familiar with the basements in this part of the city, which I’m sure are like most basements, everywhere, except on those HGTV shows, which are all finished mancaves or the new American must-have, The Greatroom (in case the living room(s) in your 6,000 square foot mcmansion aren’t enough).
The basement we ended up with is a real special basement. Not just dark and semi-damp (actually Lou will tell you it’s surprisingly dry for such an old basement), but it’s complete with crumbling patches of the foundation walls (and here, Jim the mason will tell you that it’s actually in good shape, not caving in or moving or whatever basement walls do), uneven floors made of something resembling dirt, dust, and maybe concrete, a ridiculous maze of pipes overhead – some old, some really old, many wrapped in asbestos, all with broken valves – well, valves that were working fine until we turned them for the first time in 50 years, thus causing them to break to the point of no return…heh.
There’s just kind of a creepiness to it. Especially in winter as the low light comes in through the windows. Especially with the now-broken valves causing a few sporadic drips in otherwise muted silence. Even the plumber, who spends much of his time in basements, I’m sure, told me (as we stood alone in the basement) that I was brave for being down here. I’m guessing he wasn’t trying to flatter me. I’m guessing he wanted to get out of the basement himself. It’s the cage, I tell you.
However, as of now, I’m no longer wary of the basement. I’ve spent enough time there, alone, cleaning it out, getting to know it, talking to it, the usual, to feel that the basement and I are now on good terms.
So now that the basement and I are on good terms, let’s talk about what’s in it. We’ll start with the cages. We call them cages but it’s really a cage-like piece of metal that divides the basement into two sections. And it has a door. With a lock. Just in case.
Old barrels, a corkscrew, and a pretty flower hook, all in a little room on one side of the basement. There’s also a very old PBR case in this room, and on the other side of the basement, a very old (are you sensing a theme yet?) wine press.
To Lou’s disappointment, someone came and took a lot of the stuff in the basement. But they didn’t get everything.
Cash for hard times, found wrapped in an envelope inside a tobacco tin that was shoved up behind a shelf in the wine barrel room. Yes, this basement has a wine barrel room and cash in the walls. Those leaky valves don’t seem so bad now, huh?
At closing, it was joked that “if” we found any money in the house, we could keep it. Okay, it’s $200, not $2,000,000, but in 1955 (the year it was printed) it was a lot. Who am I kidding, it’s still a lot. Enough to treat ourselves to wine and cheese, a small Christmas tree, and overpriced food and drinks at a football game. You know – entertainment. Things you aren’t supposed to buy when you are fixing up a two-family home with a basement full of broken valves and cage dividers. I’d like to think the person who put it there would approve. After all, we’re putting a lot more back into the house.