The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Sub Terra Vita Chronicle #23: Part II—Home and Youth: A Brief Autobiography of the Valley Underground

Sub Terra Vita
By Tim Krenz
November 2, 2015

Chronicle #23: Part II—Home and Youth: A Brief Autobiography of the Valley Underground

In the story of the St. Croix Valley Underground, it begins with my childhood home and my interest in politics from a young age. As a kid growing up in Osceola, I paid too much attention to current events and topics during middle school. I watched the evening news, read the newspapers and the magazines, and dug through the history books at the old public library on River Street.

On my thirteenth birthday, in 1983, the world watched the network television movie about a nuclear holocaust, The Day After. The movie opened an active imagination and horror in me, about a future all too likely at that point. Nothing made me more afraid than that daunting doom of nuclear war, nothing except the basement of my childhood home. That basement scared me!

In that house, one part of it already 100 years old by then, we had a sectioned off basement. The old part, under the original farm house, had walls of stones and mortar. We used that leaky, wet, damp, and dreary cold dungeon beneath the kitchen and one bedroom for normal things. We stored toys, hockey skates and sticks, canned and boxed garden produce, etc. and I used it as a roller and skate rink, wearing those old “tied-to-the-shoe-with-laces” roller skates, and those pre-cool, narrow, and hard-plastic skate boards of the 1970s.

One descended down an open staircase into that part of the basement, and near the top of those stairs, in a cubby-hole under the kitchen floor, our old family cat, Curly, gave birth to kittens. She kept her litter in that hole until they grew old enough to leave it without falling to a terminal concrete floor far below them. At the top, we also used the landing as a private phone booth. Fortunately, the cord from the old rotary telephone extended far enough from the mounting on the far kitchen cupboard to reach.

In the newer section of the basement, under the dining and living room, we kept the laundry, the furnace and fuel tank, the chest freezer, and a wood storage hallway leading up to the surface and the front yard. The wood we bundled down that stairwell for our large, welded-steel wood heating stove, one covered with a tin hood and forced air system. However, I considered the sump pump and hole by the laundry its own share of the Amityville horror, and I stayed far away from it.

The opposite sides of the stone basement middle wall connected by the “wicked witch-like” iron and heavy timber frame and door. Even though two separate rooms, I always considered each a mutually freaky, or worse, place to find myself, at night, when searching for the light fixture to pull the string, in the dark. Yep, creepy, horror-movie stuff.

After seeing that movie, The Day After, I entered my own debate about mutual assured destruction (M.A.D.), and what would my family, my friends, and Osceola neighbors do if fallout started falling from nukes. When I asked my brother this question, I remember he answered, “We'll have to live in the basement.”

Looking back, I must have thought, “Seriously. Just what I wanted to do. Live in that dungeon, while nuclear winter lasts and atomic zombies inherit the earth.” Nothing seemed attractive in that underground alternative life, but anything beats atomic vampires, right? But while still an Osceola youth, we had more, and better fun, and the young life party—in the valley underground.  


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