Thursday, September 1, 2016

boyhood sketch 4. RATS AND MORE RATS

The buildings that enclosed the rear and one side of our family yard were utility barns and warehouses belonging to the city's transit system. Many other buildings were located over this vast corner property. Buses and street cars came in and out of the yard for maintenance. There were train tracks with train engines and cars parked for periods of time. The constant daily rumbling activity in this property chased its residents away to find lodging elsewhere. They found refuge at our home. Rats, hundreds of them. When we first moved to the house, we saw bullet holes inside on all the walls. Previous residents had shot at the rodents crawling unseen behind the wainscoting. The foundation of the house rested on firm soil. That’s correct, not concrete but soil. This was perfect for rats to tunnel into, nest and reproduce, in safety and in the dark. A plumbing problem in the bathroom caused my father to open a trapdoor and go into a crawl space with its mud floor. He let me follow him but said be careful or your foot will go into a rat hole. I did not stay long, freaked out when seeing the entire dirt surface under our house, full of rat-sized craters. When my brother Neale was born, I was eleven years old. I remember Dad telling me one morning that he had jumped up at night to protect Neale when seeing a rat crawling along the baby's crib railing. We moved from that house less than a year later. (The bus yards were to the left of the green house, 10 Clark Street. Today that rugged yard is converted into a shopping plaza.)

1 comment:

  1. Having rats is nothing to be embarrassed about, especially when telling tales of childhood and nostalgia. These pests are part of a great deal of fond childhood memories, as morbid as that may sound. I have my own rat stories, but they don't include a baby's crib. That one was a delight. Still, this is a pest to be purged.