1950 Memories of Suburban Adventures

Intruder Alert

www.toysrus.com mine was metal, not plastic

mine was metal, not plastic

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I turned out being excellent at dishing out desperate measures.

We still lived in the basement, but now I had two thirds of a long skinny room to myself. No more sharing with David.

The back third contained storage shelves holding everything from assorted camping gear to a million canning jars. Mom strung a curtain along a curtain rod of bailing twine to hide the shelves.

Dad painted my outside-wall (made of cement blocks) a pinkish-tan. He couldn’t paint my other walls because they were studs, only sheet-rocked on the hallway side.

I enjoyed scaring others, but was a big fraidy-cat myself. Especially at night all alone in the dark, with the moon shining a beam on my head to let the monster know where I was.

At night, I pushed tight against the studded wall on the far side of my twin bed, with my blanket covering my head like a babushka. I left a little peep-hole around my eyes, nose, and mouth so I could breathe and see anything sneaking up.

In addition to clothes and comic books, Barbara Kay (my cousin) and her brothers gave David and me their unwanted stuffed animals, and they had a ton of them. I placed two super-sized animals under the covers next to me. Excellent body-doubles. An intruder, vampire, or monster would attack them first, giving me time to yell and wake up Mom and Dad.

For additional peace of mind, I created an early warning system by pulling out random bureau drawers to block the narrow passage to my bed. The metal teeth of two potholder-looms waited on the floor in front of my doorway, I mean literally a doorway because I had no actual door.

One night, I cried out in my sleep from a nightmare. Mom and Dad drew straws to see who had to get up this time. Half asleep, Dad made his way in the moonlight to comfort me. Stumbling through my doorway, he stepped on the sharp barbs of a defense-loom with his bare foot.

“Jump’n crimmers,” he yelled, hopping on his unpunctured foot. “Jeezum-cripes, what in tarnation?”

His loudness woke me up at the same moment he banged his shin into my pulled-out drawer. He turned on my light and limped to my bed. He couldn’t find me.

“Dag nab it! Where the heck are you?” he asked in a voice sounding more irritable than concerned.

I poked my head out from among the decoys. Mom ran in to see what the thumping and hollering was about.

Dad warned, “Be careful, she’s got booby traps all over the con-sarned place.”

My early warning system made a lasting impression on more than Dad’s foot and shin, since he retells this story frequently. And each time he rubs his foot and shin during his narration.

Lesson learned: Better safe than sorry. I was safe, Dad was sorry.

Related Posts: Chapter Three: Basement Gorilla; Chapter Nine: Attic Dweller

Now it’s your turn: Did you ever set booby traps?

© Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures, 2012 forward. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. Love the security system. And the stuffed animal decoys in case of attack.

  2. Sunni Morris says:

    You are very funny. I can picture this whole thing. How smart of you to come up with your security system.

    We lived in a house with two by fours too and no sheetrock. Our closet was just bare wood shelves nailed to the wall the length of the room where us five girls would stack our clothes.

    I think the only doors on the house were the doors to get inside or outside. They were also the only thing painted in the hoise and they were sea green. Somebody must have had that paint left over, or it was on a super sale.

    I was always the one scaring my siblings. I loved to draw and would cut out hatchets and gnurled hands from cereal boxes. I’d coolr them and place them under their pillows.

    I enjoyed your post. Merry Christmas,

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Thanks, Sunni, and Merry Christmas to you, too! You sound like someone after my own heart. You might be able to identify with Walking the Plank – in chapter eight.

      • Sunni Morris says:


        I read your plank story and left a comment. You should write a family book of stories. I just finished one for my mom in Sept. Everyone got a good laugh reliving those old days.

      • skinnyuz2b says:

        Sunni, I thought you might get a kick out of it. Not too many people have to walk a plank to get to the toilet.
        Your idea of a family book is a good one. It’ll be a while before I finish my saga though.

  3. ahardrain says:

    Why you little babushka lol. Your poor dad but what a great story to remember and share laughs now. Wishing you and you family a wonderful holiday season. 🙂

  4. Glynis Jolly says:

    You had me crying, I was laughing so hard. Your poor dad.

  5. Choosing says:

    Oh dear! Your poor dad! 😉 I bet after that night the job to check on you when you called out was even less popular… 😉
    Concerning monsters: I was convinced there was a big snake living under my bed for years (or at least it felt like years). Even though there wasn’t any space for a big snake under my bed. Even though my parents checked and found nothing. They thought they had reassured me because I did not mention the snake after that. But I had just decided that they were no help in this matter. I got really quick at jumping out of bed at night when I needed to go to the bathroom.

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      You can’t be too careful, Choosing. Snakes can slither into tight places. You should have set up a brigade of chairs or other items so you could hop from one to the other without ever touching the floor.

  6. Pecora Nera says:

    Very funny, I found a scattering of lego bricks was also a good deterrent. Merry Christmas from snowy Italy

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Great idea, PN. Legos weren’t around when I was young, we had Lincoln Logs made of real wood.
      And a Merry Christmas to you from snowy and below zero upstate NY.

  7. Meg says:

    Pecora Nera beat me to it. Legos are the ultimate early defense mechanism. (Having stepped on a pile in the night in one of my son’s rooms, I can attest, they are the ultimate torture device.) There’s a comedian who says we could save all our money on troops overseas and nuclear weapons and just use legos against terrorists and a smattering around the borders instead.

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Yes, Meg, every generation has their own weapon of choice. Potholder looms aren’t as good now adays anyway. Instead of nice sharp metal, they’re made out of plastic.

  8. I don’t remember having any permanent defenses in place, but I am told that the first night my mother made me sleep without the nightlight I scared the life out of her. When she came to wake me in the morning the bed was empty, and I was apparently missing. She discovered me after twenty minutes of frantic searching, asleep on the floor of the wardrobe cupboard among the shoes. I must have been scared and decided that was the safest place to be.

  9. suzjones says:

    No booby traps, but after I turned out the light at night, I would stand at the foot of my bed and crawl up from the bottom, or stand and jump from two feet away so that anything under the bed wouldn’t reach out and grab my ankle. 🙂

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Oh, Suz, a scairdy cat after my own heart. Strangely enough, I never thought anything was under the bed at night. I did check before turning the light out, but it never occurred to me that a critter might crawl under after the lights went out.

  10. ahardrain says:

    Merry Christmas to you and your family 🙂

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      And to you and yours!
      Anyone who is even thinking about a cruise should check out AHR’s site ‘The Cruise Addict’ More info on every type of cruise that you can imagine, and some you didn’t know existed.

  11. […] Related post: Chapter Ten: Intruder Alert […]

  12. kriskkaria says:

    Loved this story. Can I narrate for my pocast?

  13. kriskkaria says:

    Its ready! Go to http://kriskkaria.podbean.com/. Thanks again for letting me narrate!

  14. News Cruise 60 says:

    This is a priceless story! I’m going to repost it if you don’t mind…


  15. News Cruise 60 says:

    Reblogged this on News Cruise 60 and commented:
    A very funny story I had to share with you!

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Thanks, Ed. Once I realized I wasn’t going to get punished, I thought it was funny too.

      • News Cruise 60 says:

        Yeah, “grupping”…(growing up) can be a confusing time! It’s wonderful, horrible, hopeful, hopeless, fun, unfun, all at once. But mostly, it is great to live through it and then be able to look back with humor…

        Take care, Skinny…TTYL.


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