Fun Basements | Mark’s Remarks - Republic-Times | News

Fun Basements | Mark’s Remarks

By on June 20, 2018 at 10:30 am

Our first basement was unfinished and old. It leaked a little if it rained a lot. The concrete walls were cool. The uncovered rafters had pretty, untouched and solid wood from 1953.

We loved it.

We set about making our first basement into a place we could hang out. We painted and put down some carpet squares, hooked up a television, and even put a second-hand fridge and oven down there. We had our computer set up. We had most of the big toys down there, and we strung twinkly Christmas lights around and put some comfortable furniture down there. 

I guess I’m thinking about that old basement as summer approaches. I remember heading down there when the kids were little, when the rest of the house was warm. The basement would be dark and cool, and we’d be barefoot down there, padding around, playing and having a great time in the cool of that place.

Even thinking about it brings my temperature down.

On stormy nights, we’d head down there with pillows and blankets. We’d take flashlights and provisions. As the storms raged outside and we clicked on the TV to catch weather updates, we snuggled in between those concrete walls and that steel-beamed construction, feeling safe and protected. I think the kids even looked forward to those nights. We did, too.

We built tent houses and grand Lego villages down there.  Epic piles of laundry would be washed, dried and folded in the cool of that place. There was some exercising done down there, but not enough. We had birthday party after birthday party down there, and I can still see big piles of wadded-up gift wrap, empty paper cups and a slab of crumbs where a birthday cake once was. 

Many a painting project took place down there, too, with paint cloths and old newspapers spread around. 

One of my funniest memories I have of that basement is when I decided to get a gallon of heavy-traffic paint and paint the basement stairs before I put some cool carpet treads on them.  My plan was to make the stairs low maintenance and attractive at the same time. 

I still remember the strong odor of that paint, and I remember turning on fans and cracking those old basement windows, happily cleaning and sanding the stairs and putting on the first coat. I had been painting for a good amount of time before I realized I had painted myself into a corner, so to speak. 

The only way to escape the basement at this point was to build an elaborate climbing structure out of old chairs, squeeze myself through the small opening on the side of the staircase, and pull my big old body up to the unpainted landing. With the prowess of Tom Cruise in the “Mission Impossible” movies, I pulled it off.  After the first coat dried, I made better plans.

Our new basement is finished and furnished. It has a full bathroom and a fireplace. It has nice flooring, and although I need to do some work on the bathroom and laundry room ceilings, the ceilings are covered.  Painting needs to be done, but the walls are finished and nice. It is still much cooler than the rest of the house and is a nice place to hang out when the house gets warm in the spring.

And even though I am grateful for our nice new basement, I still miss that old unfinished one, with its wonderful sense of informality, purpose and potential.

Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.