Sunday, December 7, 2008

The basement we dug ourselves

WE were the kids, in the neighborhood, who dug their own basement, while living in Huntsville, Alabama, during the late 60's, and early 70's! Didn't every normal family dig their own basement?

<<< Here is a picture of dad, in the most recent years.

I faintly remember how we were somehow made to feel privileged in digging our own basement!
We boys were told to crawl through the small opening behind our house, with picks & shovels, into the dimly lit underside of the house, onto the hard-packed dirt floor.
We initially had to lay on our side, while our dad told us to start digging.

It was hard work, although I suppose we thought it was fun, for a short time, I'm sure! I doubt the girls were privileged to perform any digging, but maybe they did a little digging also? (Maybe on this blog, my sisters will have a comment if their own?)
While underneath the crawl space of our home, we finally were able to throw dirt onto dad's home-made conveyor belt. You should have seen all the dirt coming out from underneath that house. The dirt would dance-up the home-made conveyor belt, whereas the clay would clog-up the conveyor rollers, whereby causing a slow-down in our progress. The conveyor contraption was designed and built by dad. He used surplus conveyor belt material, 2 x 12's, home-made wooden end-rollers, and powered by, no doubt, a surplus washing-machine motor. I recollect we were encourage to keep-track of each load of dirt, by penciling slash-marks on the house floor joists: one mark for each load of dirt we dumped into the ditch at the back of our big yard! I suppose those marks are still there. Someday, I might investigate that, but the present house owner might not quite understand my visit!
With all the trailer loads we hand-pushed to the back of our yard, we got a little careless, I suppose? Why, we once dumped a whole trailer load of dirt, and while doing so, we carelessly let the complete trailer slide-off into the ditch with the dirt. Our hands just couldn't hold-on to the trailer tongue! Of into that ditch, it went! I still don't recall how we ever got it out! The trailer belonged to dad's father, our grandaddy Pickens. He probably never knew about the accident!

Was this child slavery, family chores, or just ole' fashion family bonding? I occasionally share this story with my friends, and they find it hard to believe. I usually tell them, my dad always prefaced his ideas with, "Son, I love you, and I have something I want you to do!" Whether that was really ever said is not the point, but the mere fact dad wanted to spend the time with us kids, even if we were part of the experiment, said volumes regarding "Love".
Dad pushed sometimes pushed us to the edge, you might say, and helped us to experience some fun, at the same time.
Say what you will, but all I can say is, "WE were the kids, in the neighborhood, who dug their own basement!



juli8946 said...

Hmmmm....guess we girls were destined for greater things, Barry...although I personally would've been right there in the hole with ya'll, I wasn't asked. :) I think the basement was Dad's way of not having to load us all up in the hoopty-station wagon every time the weather looked scary. Remember Those days? Adventure-Drivin! :)
Love your blogs and YOU...thanks for sharing.

David Crossland said...

Well, at least you know where to go in case of danger, hide in your self dug basement!!!

Anonymous said...

This method of parent/child relationship was the subject of last night's Andy Griffin (Channel 15 at 10:30 pm). I thought then that I would like to get a copy , but I don't know how. Opie, strongly influenced by a new friend just moved to Mayberry from Raleigh decides he should not have to work for his 25 cent weekly allowance. The episode teaches a lot of good things.


Rocketman said...

Dad did push us towards the edge, and sometimes...just for fun...he pushed us over the edge! A metaphor for that might be your motorized bike ride to the hospital! If You need a kill switch, then u ain't living!!

Barry Pickens said...

As in the story, I did stop by the old house and the current resident/owner allowed me to see the basement, and even take pictures. The hash marks are still on the floor joists, recording each load of dirt we filled-up and emptied in the ditch behind our house.