When Mom would tell my brother and I to go play outside, one of our go to things was explore the woods that edged our property. The woods were always a magical place, full of adventure and lots and lots of briers. We would discover animal tracks and pretend to be explorers. On one of our many explorations, we discovered an old house.
It wasn’t some mystery house that no one knew about. My grandpa used to know the lady who lived there, but to my brother and I it was a domain filled with wonder and adventure. The old house had been abandoned for 20 years after the woman living there had died. Inside, there was still some of her dishes, an old fridge, a bed, and so much more. Most of the windows were still intact and you could still walk on the floors, though one side sagged.
My brother and I always felt some sort of reverence when perusing the house. At a point someone lived there, and left behind were the earthly belongings she could not bring with her. To children, the house was filled with mystery. We could only conjure images of the way the house used to be from our imaginations. Oftentimes, we discussed if we would find forgotten treasures (we never did and wouldn’t have kept it anyway). Adding to our wonder were words written on one of the walls. There, written in pencil was the name of my grandpa and his telephone number. To a child this might as well have been the discovery of Egyptian hieroglyphics. We were so excited and ran to tell my grandparents about our find.
Over the years we explored the area around the old house, discovering a well that we were strictly forbidden to go near. We also explored another abandoned house in the woods at my grandparents. This one had been abandoned since the 60’s and was too far gone to enter. Instead, we would peep in and use it as a backdrop for photos.
The old houses always held a certain allure to me. They were my castles in the country. We made sure to share the fortresses with my two younger brothers as well, and they dubbed it Monster House after one of their favorite movies. Just as it had for my older brother and myself, the old houses captivated and intrigued my youngest brothers too. It is a special part of our childhood–being able to step back in history.
Last night that history was laid to rest in a display of fiery inferno, providing one last mystical show for my brothers and I. The owner of the houses decided it would be best to allow the local volunteer fire department to receive training practice and burn the buildings. In this way, the houses wouldn’t pose a threat to anyone as they further dilapidated and would also give the fireman in the community a chance to practice their fire fighting skills. It also gave us quite the show.
Last night we said good bye to old friends. Gone is the childhood mystical fortress that held such wonder. In its place stands a lone brick fireplace and the memories of days gone by.