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LJ Idol Week 11 Re-post: Blocks of Wood and Marbles

The Week 11 Topic for LJ Idol was an open topic, and I chose to go back and pick one of my unfinished entries for a different topic, Sticks and Stones, that I decided against using. I am really pleased with this post, and even though I was stuck in “Tribe Redemption” from the week before, I still scored pretty high on this entry. Remember, if you want to read other people’s entries or vote on the current week, you can go to the LiveJournal Community .

I was an imaginative child. I would make up worlds inside my head, sometimes writing them down on paper, other times just playing in the world inside my head. Each Summer I would go and spend a week visiting my aunt and uncle at their home in Central Pennsylvania. I loved being a “big girl” and not needing my parents for a week.

My Uncle bought the house in the mid-70s and “invited” his parents and two sisters to live in it with him – his older unmarried sister, and his youngest sister who would later get married and become my mom. I always loved sleeping in my mom’s old bedroom because I never knew what kind of treasure from her past I might find hidden in a drawer or in the closet.

It was a large Cape Cod style house with two bedrooms on the ground floor and two bedrooms on the top floor with a full bathroom on each floor. The ground floor also had a large living room, dining room, and the kitchen. A basement ran the full length of the house and it had been divided in half – half of the basement was left unfinished and had been my pappy’s workshop, and the other half was a family room.

Along one side of the family room was a long bar with tall stools. My pappy used to mix drinks behind it, and there were still containers of stirring sticks on top of the mini fridge. Under the bar was a long cabinet that used to hold glasses and trays. The cabinet became the storage area for all of the board games my family had collected — some were from my mom’s childhood, others were purchased new as nieces and nephews got older and needed games to play with. Many were purchased for me.

My favourite games were the games that had lots of pieces to them. The banks from the game Piggy Bank, the triangular shaped Triominos, dice, pick -up sticks, tinker toys, etc. One in particular I don’t even know if it had a name or was just blocks to play with, but it was blocks with different coloured rectangles and triangles on them – red, green, yellow, and blue. There were no instructions. While digging through the cabinet I found an old game my aunt simply called “Milkman”, consisting of some milk floats (delivery cars) and bottles of milk. I also loved playing Chinese Checkers almost as much as I loved playing with the marbles it came with and I would spend hours organizing the marbles and colour-coordinating each side of the board.

If I didn’t play in the basement, then I was upstairs in the sewing room pulling out buttons, ribbons, bobbins, and fabric scraps to make art projects with (I am quite embarrassed to say that there are still two of my creations hanging in my mom’s old bedroom 25 years later). Sometimes I also played in what we always called “the back room” – the second bedroom on the ground floor that had a mustard yellow sofa and some of the games we played more frequently. The back room often times became a school room for playing school or a store if I wanted to play store. My aunt was always willing to play with me and would even keep things from year to year so the box I pretended was a cash register was always there. We usually raided some of the game boxes for money.

When I visited, I was always there for a week. My visits would always include at least one day trip to some place local such as the Land of Little Ponies or Hersheypark and a picnic at Kiwanis Lake. I would also help my aunt with her grocery shopping and housework. We didn’t have a clothesline at my parent’s house, so I loved pegging out the clothing and watching it blow in the wind. My aunt also always let me do the dusting and watering of her plants, but there were always some tasks she either didn’t need my help with, or things I couldn’t do.

I would be sent to play on my own. I always had a choice – the sewing room, the back room, or the basement, unless my uncle had a puzzle on display on the ping pong table. If the table was empty, I almost always picked the basement.

The first thing I always did was get out the coloured blocks. Spread out across the full length of the bar, these blocks would become the base of my village. I used the marbles for people, and I made a swimming pool by putting a bunch of seashells in a circle. The deep end was marked off with a piece of ribbon. The piggy banks from the piggy bank game were coralled into a farmyard fenced off with stirring sticks, the milk man trucks were placed around on the “streets”, and I played town.

I would play with my made up village for the entire week. I always hated the last day of my visit when I had to take everything down and put it away, but I knew I could play with it the following year. As I grew up, my village evolved from a village with farms and a community pool, to separate houses with backyard pools, to city scenarios with row houses.

I probably made my last village when I was around 11 or 12, but I know if I went into my aunt’s basement today all of the pieces would still be there waiting for me to create something.

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