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Old Shakey and the Spiders

Story ID:6935
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Dillon Montana USA
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By Chuck Dishno
Copyright 2003

When I was about 7 years old, my house burned to the ground. We were living in the small logging town of Bly, Oregon where I was born. The house wasn’t much, just three tar paper shacks butted together but it was all we had and times were tough during the great depression.

The fire occurred on a Sunday afternoon in July 1940 and we lost all our possessions. Since we didn’t have anyplace to live and school wouldn’t start for a month or so, we moved into the home economics room for the time being.

Being a small town, the hard working loggers and saw mill workers would come home from work each day and help us clean up the lot then rebuild our house. The local store had a “fire sale” benefit for us and the sawmill donated all the lumber for the new house. I think it only cost my Dad about $500.00 for everything.

What an improvement the new house was over the old shacks we had been living in where we didn’t have any hot water or indoor plumbing. But the new one had all these and more! No more cold trips to the outhouse or frozen pipes and it had 3 bedrooms. It was easily the best house in town and all because the old one burned down. What a fantastic community and caring people.

My Pop was a hard working, well-liked man and was always up to trying something new. He loved my Mom and tried to make life easier for by buying labor saving gadgets.

After the 2nd World War, came the advent of the automatic washing machine. These were not anything like we have now. They were big, noisy and shook like an earthquake.

Pop decided to get one of these labor saving machines for Mom and went to Klamath Falls to an appliance store to see what they had to offer. There was a new one on the market by the name of Laundry All. It was in the price range that Pop could afford so he took it home.

When he got it set up, it ran great. It had a horizontal washtub inside that would rotate 12 times one direction and then 12 times the other for about 20 minutes then would go into the spin mode. That’s when all hell broke loose. It shook so bad that it started to “walk” across the floor and threatened to pull off the hoses. The only thing to do was to gather around it when it started spinning and try to hold it in place. The spin cycle occurred three times before the wash was done.

Whenever Mom washed, she would keep an ear out for the start of the spin cycle and we would all rush to the kitchen to help hold the machine down. Pop called the store and asked at what he could do. He was told he should have bolted it to the floor. This seemed like a good idea but it was a long way through the wooden floor and the 12-inch floor joists under the house.

Pop got four 18-inch long bolts with large washers and nuts. He then drilled through the floor and joists. This created a problem for Pop because it took two to do the job. One to hold the bolt and one under the house to put on and tighten the nuts.

The crawl space under the house was too shallow for Pop’s big belly so I was drafted into doing the mole job. I would slide under the house on my back with a flashlight and find the protruding bolts.

I soon realized that I wasn’t alone under there. There were many spiders of all sizes and shapes and they terrified me. I would shine the light around and see these eyes looking back at me. I know now that none of them were poisonous and probably wouldn’t bite me but at that time, all I could think of was my early demise. As soon as I heard Pop say that the bolts were tight enough, I got out from under the house in record time thinking the spiders were chasing me all the way.
The new washing machine still shook like crazy but stayed in place. The shaking was then directed toward the nearby wood cook stove and on at least one occasion the stovepipe with all its soot came down in the kitchen. The cupboard doors would come open and dishes would come crashing out. At the start of each spin cycle, Mom would call for help and we would run to the kitchen and hold the stovepipe and cupboard doors.

It wasn’t long before all this shaking broke some part in the machine and I had to go under the house with all my “friends” again to remove the nuts so we could take it back to Klamath Falls for repair.

After a week or so, Pop would get the call to come pick it up. Oh, how I hated that call. It meant another trip under the house and before long it would break again and the procedure was repeated.

I don’t remember how many years this kept up before the appliance store came to the rescue and replaced it with another make that didn’t have to be bolted down.

To this day, I can’t see a spider without thinking of those monsters under the house. I believe that God protected me from them, at least I asked Him to do so, but please don’t bless those spiders.