Beginning of the Road

By D.C. Sorensen

September 1996 ?


My oldest kidlet has been spending the large portion of the week doing some snooping.  Having read far too many Nancy Drew books for her own good, she believes old houses naturally contain dark secrets.

When we first moved into our house last August we did discover a secret staircase.  It really is not that secret.  You donít enter it through a trap door.  There is no hidden doorway in the wall.  It is just one of those very narrow affairs that adults find difficult to use, but kids can zip quickly up and down.  Stairways like this come in handy in a house-wide game of hide and seek.

Alexa was not satisfied with just having a secret stairway.  After all, the adults knew about it.  She was after something more mysterious.  This week she and her friend Brenda LaPage found a secret room that exists under our front porch.  They found a crawl way behind the old paint shelf in the basement.  The girls asked for permission to move the paint and shelving unit and proceeded to stand on a paint can perched on a stool, which was on top of a chair.  This barely got them high enough to see into the secret room.

With flashlights they could see the room was full of treasure.  I was enlisted by the two excited detectives to see for myself.  They thought they could see a dead hand or something.  A quick peek revealed to me a well-insulated crawl space.  Inside was a dirt floor and old junk.  One object I could recognize was an old TV tray.  Everything looked in order to me, but I did not have the heart to tell the girls what they found was not treasure. 

Using sticks and broom handles they managed to pull out a few mysterious papers.  They didnít have the courage to crawl into the room.  Alexa thought they might sink into the ground and disappear.  She reads way too many Goosebumps books.

The first paper was directions to a kidís game called Skittle Bowl.  This paper had to have been at least a hundred years old, though it had a copyright of 1964. 

The second document was a Duluth News Tribune from December 6, 1964.  Why was this paper being hidden?  What terrible secrets did it contain?  What shameful thing would cause someone to throw the Trib into a dark secret room?  Maybe it was the article about ďPreists Donate to Protestant HospitalĒ that shook up the former owner of this house.  What would Martin Luther or Saint Peter say of a world where priests from Mayknoll, New Jersey would give $1,275.00 to a Protestant hospital in Taichung, Formosa?

Perhaps it was a bad day on Wall Street that landed the Trib in the secret room?  The DOW had fallen from 327.9 to 324.7.  Investors were worried that LBJ would not be able to keep interests rates down.  If he failed to do it would mean the end of the world.  He failed.

I think all these secrets rooms only reveal a rebellious spirit that still lives in Ely.  Ely was once damned by the Reverend Billy Sunday as being one of Godís two worst creations.  The other was hell.  That spirit of freedom was heard all during the 4th of July.  I am referring to all the illegal fireworks.  Where did those sparklers, bottle rockets and black cats come from?  I think they were all stashed away in all those secret rooms.  Even a local minister of the faith allowed his kids to stock up on fireworks the last time they were in Wisconsin.  Wisconsin is dumb enough to have legal sales of fireworks.  They have forgotten it is much more fun to do something illegal.

My feeling is that the state should allow the legal sales of sparklers and black cats, but still keep it illegal to use them.  That way we can still enjoy our guilt.  I did point out to the embarrassed minister that, at least as far as God goes, there is absolutely no mention in the Bible that fireworks are evil.  Maybe the government could learn from the Bible.  Not everything that is fun is endangering your soul.  I canít wait to start storing my stash of sparklers for next year in our secret room!


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