It may be hard to believe that I’ve forgotten a childhood adventure — or that I can do my own laundry. But I have and I can.
Not wanting an empty laundry basket in the middle of the hallway, I opened the basement door and tossed it. Watching it slide down the steps then tumble into the wall at the bottom caused the memory door in my head to open.
It was then I remembered a laundry basket from a long, long time ago on an old familiar street not so far away called Flamingo that did the same thing.
Every Friday at our house was the great laundry roundup. Mom started by giving my three brothers and me laundry baskets with orders to bring back all the dirty clothes in our rooms. Five minutes later we returned with two socks, three T-shirts, one pair of underwear, and a stuffed Teddy Bear who went swimming in the bathtub.
This wasn’t good enough for Mom. We were marched back up the basement staircase and back to our rooms with the baskets in tow.
We dug all dirty clothes out from under beds, the bottoms of closets, any hidden away in drawers, and then sheets were stripped off beds. We helped Mom tote the now full baskets down the basement steps to the laundry room.
The rest of the day we spent playing outside. Mom spent the rest of the day playing in the basement doing 10 loads of laundry. Looking back, I can say for sure us boys had a lot more fun than Mom.
By Saturday morning all laundry had been finished and put away. While Mom and Dad went out to pick the garden, us boys headed for the basement to retrieve laundry baskets.
It was Older Brother Richard’s idea to slide down the 20 basement steps while riding inside. “It’ll be safe. No one’s gonna get hurt,” he said.
No, it wasn’t and yes, someone did. Fortunately this time it wasn’t any of us. It was someone much, much larger.
After an hour of basket rides, Bubba Hanks suddenly appeared at the top of the steps. During all of the fun, we’d forgotten he had been invited over to play. Bubba was the biggest kid who ever lived on Flamingo, so he only fit into the large rectangular basket.
Twin Brother Mark and me pushed him as he teetered at the top of the steps. Like the rest of us, he bumped down, crashing to a sudden stop at the bottom. It was Big Brother James who suggested we use some kind of lubricant on the bottom of the basket so it would slide better. But what should we use?
After 10 minutes the discussion ended when Richard made his now infamous statement, “Mom says everything’s better with butter on it.”
Five sticks of butter later, the bottom of Bubba’s basket was well buttered — along with a three-foot-wide path across the basement floor. It was time to see if everything was actually better with butter on it.
Teetering at the top again and gazing down the steps, he gripped the edges of the basket yelling, “Go! Go! Go!” The four of us gave a mighty push sending him flying down the steps without a single bounce.
As he flew across the basement floor, I thought perhaps we’d used too much butter. As he slammed into the far wall, breaking it and his arm, I was sure of it.
Reminding Mom that her butter statement had given us the idea didn’t keep all of us from getting into trouble and spending the rest of the day cleaning the basket, the steps, the basement floor, and then fixing the wall.
Bubba slid into the Flamingo Street history books that day, and we learned an important lesson. Everything is better with butter on it — except laundry baskets and basement floors.
[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]