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Over the River and Through the Woods

Seriously. If you are heading east on Interstate 70 you’ll cross the Missouri River in Boonville. If you make a left at Slaton Blvd just past the forest, then a left on Rodgers and a quick right you will end up at 3571 Lakeview Dr. It’s a beautiful two story house laid in brick and surrounded by grass. This is the residence of Margret Pratt, my grandmother. She’s lived by herself in this Missouri home for the past 40 years. The first thing you will notice when you pull into the driveway is a mailbox with the name Glen Pratt on it (my grandfather). He died about 10 years before I was born. We were there for the funeral of his son Steven Pratt (my uncle), who shared the same fate as his father; a lifetime of smoking kept them both from seeing their 60th birthday.

Walking into the house you will see a big back screen door that leads you onto a wooden balcony. Careful where you sit there are tons of splinters. Just past this is a lake surrounded by trees with multicolored leaves varying in shades of green, orange and red. There’s a small island in the middle only big enough to fit three pine trees, and to the left of this is a dock that kids like to swim to.

There’s a musky, distinct smell that hits you as soon as you walk inside the house. Think Salvation Army meets the perfume section of Macy’s. Like anyone born before the 40’s, her house is decorated with ornate furniture, gold picture frames, and elaborate floral patterns. The furniture is old, but being that it’s hardly been used seems almost new. It’s kind of trapped in this purgatory between classy and swap meet.

I described this house as a two story. If you stood out front looking from the street you would call me a liar. Well for one thing, I’m not an investigatory journalist that needs to keep all the facts straight, you’re reading this on the Luke Ollett blog. And for another thing, the second story is the basement. The house is built on a grassy slope that descends into the lake shore, hence the walking through the front door, stepping through the back screen door and standing on a balcony. If you walk through the front door and make an immediate left you will find yourself walking down a shag carpeted stairwell. Here’s where things get a little weird.

I’ve always been a fan of the idea of time travel. Movies I watched growing up like Back to the Future and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure gave me the impression that it was possible. I’ve never figured out a way to go back in time, but I have figured out that if you drink enough you can travel into the future. This only works for about 10 to 12 hours at the most. That was until I walked down the stairs and was transported to a time where cell phones and computers didn’t exist. A time where music was played on record players and the electric guitar had just taken over. That’s right, my friends, I’m talk about the smashin’ 60’s baby, yeah!

The carpet was so thick it made me want to take off my shoes and feel the synthetic wool between my toes. Everything was either a bright orange or a puke green color. A linoleum wall to the left displayed a mounted sword fish my grandmother had caught when she was around my age. I was lead down a narrow hallway to the room where I would be sleeping for the next three nights.

I asked my grandmother if anything down there had been purchased before 1970. She casually responded, “No,” as if having an entire floor in your house that’s over 40 years old isn’t really freakin’ weird. Just sleeping in my bed made me feel like I was committing a crime, like I had jumped over the red velvet rope in the Smithsonian and grabbed the steering wheel of a 1940’s WWII aircraft while making machine gun sounds with my lips. I was afraid to move or touch anything, as if there would be a security camera watching me. When I went into the bathroom I found a closet of toiletries. It had shelves with things like aftershave, toothpaste, combs, razors, and mouthwash, all with labels and brand names I had never seen before. In the alcohol deprived state I was in I thought briefly about taking a swig of the 40 year old mouthwash to see if it would give me a buzz. I then thought about my grandmother burying her only grandson and decided not to.

Being in a house with just my parents and my grandmother, meaning no one under the age of 60, I had a lot of time alone down in this basement. The “adults” all had rooms upstairs and at about 9 o’clock after watching a rerun of “CSI,” they would call it a night. I would retreat to my 1960’s getaway downstairs and watch shows on the small television my dad pulled out of the garage. It was comparatively new, like 1984 or 85.

My choices were limited. I had the option of watching one of the 3 stations the television picked up, or watching the one DVD my dad brought using the portable DVD player, which happened to be the entire first season of “Murphy Brown.” I went with Candice Bergan and her team of hard hitting reporters.

I poured myself a diet coke before I embarked on the early 80’s journalism adventures. I sunk back in to my auburn chair as the squeaky sounds of leather embraced their new guest. I held up my drinking glass and shook it around in circles letting the ice cubes and glass jingle together, pretending it was a single malt scotch on the rocks. I crossed my feet and sipped slowly on my cocktail, imagining I was some sort of swingin’ bachelor living in the 60’s. “You see, baby, I bought this house after I made my first million. I wanted some place quiet and peaceful where I could get away from it all.” After enjoying a few episodes I would ash my non existent cigar and call it a night. But not before I strolled around outside for a while enjoying the warm spring air and firefly shows.

Here are a few pictures i took while on my time traveling vacation. .



a classic, I’m pretty sure the last time I used a spin dial phone Big Bird was on the other line. .


this was my alarm clock radio incase my mom, dad and grandmother weren’t there to knock on my door every 10 minutes to see if I’m up. . . I was hoping it would play something cool like Sinatra or Dean Martin. . . Instead I got Lady Gaga’s poker face


The shower and the toilet especially were unusually small. Oh and word to the wise, If you’re ever going to stay in you grandmothers 40 year old basement, bring your own towel.


i think this is a good one to see how shaggy the shag carpet was.


the thing on the bottom right is an address book.


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