Mr. and Mrs. Smith began their marriage in 1912. By 1915 they had a custom-built house, courtesy of Mrs. Smith’s father. They were allowed to make whatever decisions they liked, even bad ones, to make their dream home a reality. In my mind, I think Mrs. Smith’s father had a building company, which Mr. Smith was working at and intended to take over once her father retired.
This means that Mr. Smith would have lied through his teeth to his father-in-law. Imagine, for a moment, that the two men are speaking about the house plans. Mr. Smith mentions that they want that awful go-nowhere balcony, for the visuals of it. The father-in-law is a builder by trade and knows this is a horrible idea. But, the moment his eyebrow is raised and he is expressing that he is skeptical of the plan, Mr. Smith is shaking his head and laughing, insisting it’s all his idiot wife’s idea and he’s just going along with what she wants. It’s 1913, both of them laugh at the folly of vain women, and the stupid balcony is built. Mr. Smith was who wanted the balcony, he liked the idea of climbing up there to hang Christmas lights. Mrs. Smith hated the balcony because she was worried he’d break his neck up there.
The year is now 1950. Mr. Smith only hung Christmas lights for the first two years they lived in the house, and now they are in their 60s, and the space is nothing but a thorn in their sides and a place for grandchildren to lose balls. The balcony often needs to be cleaned of debris, and because of the fences, holds water when it rains. During the depression, when the father-in-law’s building company went under and Mr. and Mrs. Smith had to take boarders to feed their kids, the balcony caused water damage to the attic.
By the 1950s, Mr. Smith has got a job again and they are recovering financially. Fixing the water damage has been put off, but the leak is patched and they’ve grown wiser. The space is filled with inexpensive installation to keep heating easy and cost-effective, something their 20-year-old selves wouldn’t have dreamed of, since it compromises aesthetics.
The blue paint they insisted on has faded, although not necessarily for the worse. The color is fine, and repainting is no longer at the top of the Smiths’ list of priorities.
They have four lovely grandchildren, who they want over as often as possible. This gives incentive for some playground equipment, which I am sure their grown children are slightly jealous of since they never had it growing up.
In goes a swing set, and out goes what used to be there; the clothesline. Mrs. Smith is getting older, and they don’t have hired help anymore. The in-home washer and dryer became available just over a decade before, but they hadn’t had the money to do it then. If they’d had the money at the time, it was common to just put the washer and dryer in a room that could be fitted for the plumbing, often the kitchen or bathroom. But the Smiths’ home doesn’t have the space for it in either room, so it’s taken them a decade to finally bite the bullet and make space.
The basement is a death trap as it is. The ladder has been the instigator in many an accident, sometimes while holding glass jars and other things that would be very uncomfortable to drop and break a fall with. It’s almost entirely unfinished, so it floods often, and the Smiths basically never use it anymore. With their hard-earned respect for money, this seems like the best place to put it.
Mr. Smith has a building company of his own, now. It started years back doing odd jobs for people when money was tight. He had the experience from his days working for Mrs. Smith’s father, and it made him a staple in the community. Now, he has men under him and mostly does management, giving them a pretty good nest egg.
They utilize the used and excess materials from his business to finish the basement. The tiles are cobbled together with the broken ones from a different build, and the paint is leftover and in low supply. The only things they get entirely new are the stairs and the laundry machines. They have to take out the pantry to make room for the new stairs, but it seems worth it to both of them. If nothing else, to avoid hospital bills down the line.
You’ll have to bear with me. This type of washer/dryer is, of course, nowhere near available yet, but it’s the only one in the game. Pretend they’re vintage top loaders with questionable wiring, okay?
Even allegedly smart people can make life-changing blunders that seem very, very obvious in retrospect.
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