I unlatched the metal hook and pulled open the old door to the closet. Behind the jumble of brooms, cleaning supplies, and an old vacuum, strips of wood were nailed between the beams to form a rickety ladder to the attic. I grabbed the rung over my head, stepped around the vacuum, and began to climb to where memories were stored. At the top, I reached into the darkness, felt the string hanging from the ceiling and gave it a pull. The bare bulb on the ceiling snapped on and illuminated my surroundings.
I was immediately taken back to a different time. Memories of myself as a young boy who climbed here to search for treasure. It was a wondrous world of forgotten things. I’d spend hours rummaging through the boxes and admiring things not touched in years.
On this day, as a man, I wanted to find those memories of the past. Boxes of Christmas ornaments were on my left. Bags of old clothes were stacked along the back wall. In front of me were several boxes marked “old toys.” This was what I wanted to see.
I opened the first box. There was my “Super Spirogragh.” Rainy and snowy days came to mind. I spent many hours creating colorful designs on paper. Some were still in the box. Apparently I was as bad at art then as I am now.
I pulled out a cloth bag. Inside it were about fifty plastic men and women. There were a few Robin Hood pieces, army men, a few cowboys, and a couple of animals. All of them came from cereal boxes I quickly emptied to get at the next piece for the collection.
There was a tall tube filled with red, plastic building blocks. I used to build tiny homes and forts for my plastic men.
In another bag, I found hundreds of marbles. I used to dig depressions in the dirt and challenge my friends to see who could roll the most marbles into the target—winner took all. I often lost, but judging by the number of marbles in the bag, I won some too. At the bottom of the box was a small plastic suitcase with a clear plastic top. It was marked “007 Spy Kit.” It had a plastic pistol and a variety of weapons that it fired: a couple of missiles, six long bullets, six short bullets, and a grenade that actually fell apart when it struck a hard target. I spent hours as a child lining my plastic men along the edge of my brothers’ bunk bed and firing at them with my spy gun. Once in a while I’d build robots from the blocks and fire at them instead. They’d rock on their plastic feet when shot and ometimes fell to the floor and smashed into pieces. My imaginary world would be saved for another day. Double-0-Seven was a hero.
I found a few old games: Kerplunk, Grasshopper, Trouble, and Tiddlywinks.
I gathered my treasures in a bag and climbed back down the ladder. One day my kids would make their own memories with these toys.
Mom sold the old house years ago. The attic I loved is no longer available, but the memories are still there. People often ask me, “Where do you come up with your story ideas?”
I tell them, “In my attic. It’s a corner of my brain, where treasures are stored in tiny boxes, and when I’m alone, I open them one-by-one and share their treasures with you.”