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Grandpa’s Bedroom

(Return with me now to the 1940s, to the Redwood Road home of my paternal grandparents, Will and Annetta Boulden.  Mind the noise; we don’t want to startle them…)

They built that house during the Depression for $70 worth of wood, my father once told me.  Economized by leaving out certain things, like a bathroom.  And stairs to the attic.  Oh, and a floor in that attic, which my Grandpa claimed as his bedroom.

So with no stairs, he used a ladder leaned up against the outside of the house to reach the room.  I remember he would climb facing outward, away from the house, because that provided the easiest entry through the small, window-sized door  underneath the Chinese elm tree.  Once inside, a visitor had to be careful where he stepped, because there was literally no floor in the room.  Just the drywall that formed the ceiling of the room below.  After someone stepped on  that drywall and crashed through into the room below, they brought up a piece of plywood and laid it down as impromptu flooring.  But one still had to be careful not to wander off the edge of it and so make a sudden exit  down to the room below.

When Grandpa B eased out of that half-door onto the ladder, he was facing away from the house.  So rather than turn himself around, he would step onto the ladder and reach both hands behind him to hold on while descending.  To this small grandson, it looked scary, but he had perfected the moves.

He died in that room in 1950, while taking, I think, an afternoon nap.  He was 72; and I was in the hospital for an appendectomy and so missed his funeral  And as I move within a couple years of that age, I find that I want to share these memories with you.  Thanks for humoring me.

Larry Boulden, March 2011

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