A Real Good Memory©
By Arlene Wright-Correll
Today I got to thinking about the time Carl decided to build me an underground wine cellar because I was a very serious home vintner.
It was 12 foot under ground, 28 feet long and 10 feet wide with walls that were about 30 inches thick being created from the old stone fences lying about the 24+ acres we lived on at our mountain home next to the Blue Line in New York.
He had just had a backhoe did out a big hole behind our 3 car attached garage so he could add a room to hold about 35 cords of wood when he got this big brainstorm.
However, the memory is not really about the wine room so much as it is about our 5 kids and their scads of neighborhood kids who helped him in the mid 70’s to build this project.
The whole project took 9 weekends and he used the foundation of our home as one side and added 3 more sides is a sort of layering a cake method.
But let me get back to the kids. There were about 20 of them all total. They aged from 8 years old to about 16 and I do not want to hear about child labor laws!
We told them we were looking for workers to gather rocks from these old walls.
If you could carry a rock in each hand you got paid a penny a rock.
If it took two hands and you were bent over carrying it between your legs you got a nickel!
They all agreed and went to work about 8 a.m. and took an hour lunch break and went back from 1 until about 5. They worked really well and they had their little tally books and at the end of that first day we paid them off with paper bags filled with nickels and pennies.
We doubted we would see them the next day, but they all showed up, ready and willing. At the end of that day we paid them off in many, many nickels and pennies.
We doubted we would see them the next weekend, but the all showed up and this went on for 9 weekends with them getting paid off in nickels and pennies at the end of each day.
During those 9 weekends these little hard workers got creative. I remember our middle son, who was about 14, and some of his friends strung a long cable from a big tree near one of the rock piles to our home. He and those friends found an old 50 gallon drum cut it in half long way and welded some hooks and wheels on it, attached it to the cable. They would fill the drum up with rocks and let the drum go whereby it came down to the house. Pretty ingenious!
Every week I would go to the bank and get many rolls of nickels and pennies. Every week that summer we would create fantastic lunches for the crew of kids.
About 4 months ago, our oldest daughter who retired and moved back to that area about 10 years ago, told me she met one of the boys, who was now grown up, and he told her he had never had so much fun, worked so hard or made so much money than he did during those 9 weekends.
That is really what I was thinking about. These kids, all of them, knew how to work, how to make money, knew how to be reliable, how to keep on keeping on and I do not think you would find many kids around today with that kind of attitude.
I never did think about taking pictures of all their efforts. It wasn’t a time of selfies or taking pictures or cell phones.
Carl eventually got the wine room finished, broke through the basement wall, put a fantastic door into it with a welded bunch of grapes for the handle. Plus he even built that huge wood room on top of the wine room where each fall he and the kids would load it up with about 35 cords of cut firewood.
These are some very old pictures that the local newspaper took of the finished product.
Upon reflection I have always wondered how he got that huge stone he wrote on it place. He never would enlighten me. Magic he said and magic he made it because he wrote "This wine room is dedicated to Arlene who gives us the good life."
Not only was it a wonderful wine room, but the temperature stayed 65 degrees all year round even when it was 20 below. It provided us with great parties of bottling wine and many other wine making activities with our other wine making friends.
But the greatest memory is of all those wonderful kids.
May the Creative Force be with you,