Treasure hunting in the garage 

Day Sixteen: Third Time’s the Charm

Today’s Prompt: Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar, or tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile.

— — — — —

When I was a kid, I loved to climb into the loft over our garage and poke around in the boxes and cubbies stored up there. Of course, I was definitely not allowed to go up there and certainly not allowed to snoop my way through the trove of interesting things that could be found there. 

That didn’t stop me, though. 

The loft was, to my mischief-filled, pre-pubescent mind, a mysterious world of shadow and hidden relics. I was convinced, at eight years old, that there was a doorway to another world hidden behind a stack of crates in the back corner. I was sure that if I could master my fear of the dark and of spiders, I would one day wander into Neverland, or Narnia, or The Hundred Acre Wood. 

That never happened, much to my sorrow. But many a Saturday afternoon adventure happened in the dusty gloom of that loft. 

It required daring and agility to gain the attic. Rickety wooden steps stopped in a square landing about six feet above the threshold of the door into the garage from the laundry room in our house. But there was still a gap of several feet between the top of the landing and the edge of the loft floor. So you either had to bring a step stool up to the landing, or do a pull-up, to shimmy on your belly over the edge. I did both, but the pull-up most often, until I had a growth spurt and my strength to weight ratio betrayed me. 

Junk. Most of the contents of the loft fit that description. But I didn’t think so then. All of it was discovery, excitement and thrills. Interesting cases covered in dried, flaking leather, or pasteboard boxes printed with stripes or flowers or polka dots captured my imagination. Every cardboard packing box represented a chance to unearth treasure of unimagined dimension. 

I remember finding a red leather case with faded green velvet lining housing a full set of shiny, steel, precision drafting tools. These were a relic of my oldest brother’s one semester of architectural engineering at college. The tools had been my great uncle’s; he was a builder in West Texas in the first half of the twentieth century. My grandmother had lent them to my brother for school, but they ended up in the loft when he switched majors. I wanted so badly to keep and learn to use them, but my mother wouldn’t allow it. 

Another time, I came across a box full of chefs magazines and spent an entire afternoon looking through them, drooling over all the amazing pictures of fantastic dishes. The desserts were of most interest, of course. But the photography was so exquisite that even dishes showing things I knew I could never eat captivated me. Then, in a stunning discovery, I found myself reading a profile about my own father. In an internationally recognized magazine. My dad. I was so chuffed to see it, I ended up busting myself by running into the house with the issue in my hand, hollering about it to my mom. She grounded me for being in the loft without permission. But she kept the magazine in the house for a long time. I loved looking at it, because it gave me a glimpse into my dad’s world outside our family. 

Digging through the saved tidbits of days past can be nostalgic and emotional, even traumatic. But, with the right mix of child-like wonder, curiosity and daring, adventure can be found in every forgotten corner and dusty crate. 

1 comment so far

  1. Jackie Blue on

    There used to be a room in my Grandma’s garage full of stuff left over from my dad’s young life. I found world’s of neat stuff there–everything from a crystal radio set to who knows what all. I loved playing and digging around in there. It fit with things she would tell me about his young life, and things he would let slip sometimes, too.

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