The north wall held my father's library with lower cabinets of gardening guides and other rarely used reference books. A green cloth couch stood parallel to the shelves with enough space to walk and an old TV table reserved as Joanna's private space, often a make-believe kitchen.
Large sliding glass doors occupied most of the east wall, which in the day, was made of a single sheet of glass. Double or triple sheets for insulation were not yet generally available so that side of the room was always cold.
On the south wall were shelves of books, certificates, diplomas and dust-catchers.
The west wall contained a fireplace, which my parents enjoyed, since both grew up in homes heated by fireplace. To the right of the fireplace was a large lighted closet. It was so full of “kid stuff” it is difficult to recall what else lived there.
“Scrabble,” a “Chinese Checkers” board, a box of the unmistakable color everyone knows as “Monopoly” and other games stayed on top.
“Twister” was easier to reach and the children loved watching their grandmother contort.
Below, and reachable to the children, were paper, crayons, small toys, clay, molds, cardboard boxes of this-and-that, and anything my mother could think of to occupy the children.
A broom stood in a back corner but the two lower shelves held decades of “Reader's Digest,” stacked two deep on end.
My father gleaned jokes from the magazines to punctuate his speeches. He picked those old enough to be forgotten by his audience.
This walk-in was called “the plunder closet” because the children were free to go in, close the door and delight in anything in there. If a kid was missing they were likely sitting on the floor enjoying something recently added for their discovery.
Doug enjoyed reading but the sight of a thick book made his eyes roll. “Reader's Digest” was perfect for him. He didn't have to read a whole book to get a story and his chuckles could be heard sneaking out from under the door.
Their grandmother measured their growth and marked it on the wall, then the pencil marks moved to the closet of a bedroom. The marks are probably still there under coats of paint, with notes, ages, heights.
This Christmas I belatedly started Doug with a subscription to “Reader's Digest.” Now he can build his own library of magazines.
If asked “the plunder closet” would be a favorite memory of their grandparent's home but neither have seen it, nor even been in that house, since their grandparents moved from it in 1979.
I'm sure it isn't as large or mysterious as they remember.
As adults they probably wouldn't fit, but I'll bet they'd like to try.
Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.