The Magic Cabinet


A friend just posted a picture on Facebook of a 50’s style kitchen with white metal cabinets.  It reminded me of my grandparents’ kitchen in the house that I later bought.  It had white metal cabinets with doors that made that “whoommmm” sound when you opened them.  To a little me, those were the coolest cabinets on earth.  To a grown-up me, they were positively magical.

Somewhere in the late 70’s, Gramma wanted to remodel the kitchen so they installed your standard laminate wood cabinets and moved some of the metal base cabinets to the basement. They put the sink and its cabinets near the washer/dryer, where they stored cleaning supplies and Grandad’s tools in the drawers.  It was the equivalent of having a half kitchen of junk drawers and it made me crazy.

However, the other one was a single base cabinet with drawer, still with its original red counter top.  That one stood alone at the bottom of the basement steps.  That one was the Magic Cabinet.

Grandad died in 1981, but Gramma never moved things from the cabinet.  So when I bought their house in 2005, everything was right where he left it.  Or so one would assume.  However, the cabinet had a knack for containing exactly what I needed every single time!

For example, we moved into the house in the spring. That summer, when the lightning bugs emerged, I was reminded of my childhood, catching them and putting them into a jar. Anxious to share this experience with my kids, I went looking in the house for an appropriate jar.  Not finding any in the kitchen, I went to the basement and looked in the Magic Cabinet. There, I found a pickle jar with lid, a hammer and a nail suitable for punching air holes in the lid.  Smiling, I thanked Grandad and went on to catch lightning bugs with the kids (which they squicked about, squealed that they were “creepy” and we never did it again…magical childhood memory over…but I still enjoyed it!  LOL)

Another time, I needed twine, checked the cabinet and there it was!

  • Weed whacker line?  Check.
  • Floor cleaner?  Check.
  • Black spray paint?  Check.
  • Green paint?  Check.
  • WD40?  Check
  • Adapter to change an outlet into a light socket?  Check.  (Yes, I really did need one of these, went looking for it and there it was!)
  • Allen wrench?  Check.
  • Measuring tape?  Check.
  • Wood stripper?  Check. (Along with it the lesson that if you use old wood stripper with steel wool it will burn your hardwood floor.)
  • Protractor and ruler for math homework? Check?
  • Assorted nails, bolts, screws and hooks?  Check.

It never failed and I learned to check the cabinet before going to the store for anything.  

We moved from the house in 2008.  I couldn’t take the cabinet with me, but made sure I took the “special” Grandad things from the drawer.  I smiled as I left the cabinet for the last time, wondering if the next owner would find it as magical as I did.  I like to picture my Grandad, smiling mischievously as he put exactly what I needed in the cabinet for me to find.  In that case, probably not.  But to me, that cabinet will always be very, very special.  Just like my Grandad.

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