Wednesday, November 12, 2014

If You Pull Out a Drawer From the Chest-of-Drawers It Makes a Handy Bassinet

I lived most of the first half of my life in "The Old House."

My friend Camille Kendall has written a book about an old house, Bethel Road, which I highly recommend. Here is the link:

The Old House was not that house.

The Old House became the Old House when we moved across the road into the new house during my senior year in high school.

The Old House was your basic shotgun house (3 rooms straight in a row) with additions made by my dad for a growing family. You used to see a lot of these houses in the rural delta, usually situated on the front edge of a cotton field.

Ours, like all the others, stood about a foot and a half off the ground, the height of the cement blocks on which its frame rested. The plank outer walls were covered with the "fancy" tarpaper siding with the brick pattern imprinted on it. This served as the only insulation in a day when most Southerners thought "insulation" was a word which described U.S. foreign policy.

By the winter of 1985, the Old House was showing the effects of a half century of wear and tear, the ceilings sagging in several of the rooms and the rusted tin roof flapping and banging whenever a southerly breeze would arise.

There is a certain restfulness about a flapping tin roof, by the way. I slept through a tornado in '83 which took out the tractor shed several dozen yards away from the Old House.

I lived in the south bedroom at this time, a space heater fueled by a 30 gallon propane drum being the source of warmth. A blanket nailed over the door warded off the chill air from the rest of the house. Pretty much.

Hardly the place for a woman and infant child.

Free beers and pass-the-hat were usually adequate compensation for hard-working musicians, so on the weekends, when we would play the nightclubs, I would have cash and would rent a motel room for the three of us.

Pretty cozy, actually. The double bed served as combination banquet table and TV viewing area for the family unit. And we discovered that the room's two chairs, pushed together, make a just-the-right-height stand for one of the drawers out of the chest-of-drawers, which made a handy bassinet, just the right size for a month-old baby.

And this was our arrangement for the next six months, until warmer weather enabled me to move my girlfriend and our baby out to the Old House.

The rest is history.


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