a mattress, a stairwell, and 2 stupid kids

During the 80's, my family lived in an old two story white house on 80th Street in Marysville Washington. The house was filled with character, hardwood dining and living room floors, huge picture windows that spanned two walls in the south west corner, a deep dark basement, and an endless maze of halls and rooms that had no purpose. My parents used the downstairs parlor as the master bedroom, there was a studio apartment directly behind the house (two or three steps from our back door) that we rented out to people who needed a place to live. The back yard was more of a dirt patch. There was a basketball hoop at the end of the driveway, and we had a problem with stray cats.

That house holds many memories for me. I dumped vegetables down the furnace vents because I didn't want to eat them and my parents wouldn't let me be "done" with dinner until I had a "clean" plate. My walk home from school was fairly short, but after a few inches of snowfall one winter, it took me over an hour to push home an ever growing snowball. It fit in my fist when I left school and taller than I was by the time I finally arrived home, waving to my worried mother. It was a funny story that later was written as an editorial in the local newspaper.

5407 80th St NE was a special place where I learned to ride a bike, played tag and soccer in the field across the street, and celebrated some of the happiest Christmas' in memory. I lived there at the ages where everything still seemed magical and wonderful, especially the stairwell leading to the 2nd floor.

The staircase was unique to most homes. It was steep and narrow (the exact width of a single size mattress). At the bottom was a door that separated the 2nd story from the rest of the house. My brother's room and my room were the only bedrooms up there, so we had plenty of free reign to play as we wanted.

The fact that a single mattress fits perfectly in that stairwell is important. Both Aaron and I slept on double mattresses, but lucky for us, there was a spare single mattress leaning against the wall in the loft at the top of the stairs. I don't remember if it was his idea or mine, but to this pair of brothers, mattress + steep stairs + a door to stop us at the bottom = hours of fun.

Now, you must remember, this was back when I still liked the taste of Pepto Bismal, Ziggy was my favorite comic strip, and New Years Eve was the only day in the year that I was allowed to stay up past 8:30.

There was just enough space on either side of the mattress to avoid friction with the wall and still allow us to swiftly slide down without bouncing between the two walls. One of us would hold the mattress at the top of the stairs and let go as soon as the other jumped on. If we were feeling adventurous, we'd both ride down head first together.

I can't begin to imagine what that sounded like to anyone below us, even now that I have a teenaged elephant living above me. But, for a few hours after school, Aaron and I had the house to ourselves, freedom to destroy the house, and hope no one noticed. Our mother finally put an end to our fun after unexpectedly coming home from work early one day. Boy, I miss those days.

I'm surprised we never broke that door.


  1. And I bet you are thankful that I never once caught you in the act. Ha! Dad

  2. haha! Thats great. Great mattress story...better than mine I must admit. The snowball does give me an idea for a new memory....thanks Nic.