Daddy Long Legs

Essentially the old Mt. Calm house was a 2 story rectangle. The top story was an attic that had never been fully built out. The lower story encompassed all the livable space and sometime in the last 100 years someone had upgraded or added on a room to the back of the house. When you walked into that added/upgraded area, the bathroom was directly to the right with a big room shooting straight off the back. The floor slanted downward as you walked on it, and it was not as well insulated as the rest of the home. Dad had to string big swaths of plastic across the back wall during the winter months to keep the area somewhat insulated, but most of the time we just closed the door.

That big room was also where Dad strung plumbing lines and electricity to give us a laundry room. Sometime after our move to Mt. Calm my Mom just stopped doing all those things you think of a mom doing…cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry. We’d throw our clothes into that room to be cleaned and we’d never see them again. In later years you’d see piles of clothes in all states of decomposition. I remember trying to look through that pile of clothes for a favorite lost shirt or sweater with no luck. Eventually someone started doing laundry, but I don’t know who. Probably my father.

In the bathroom area there was a toilet, pedestal sink, and claw footed tub, but no hot water or hot water heater in the house. When we took baths we had to heat water on the stove in the kitchen and carry the water to the tub, or take a cold bath. Most the time I opted for a cold bath. The panes in the window of the bathroom had been broken out over the years so we kept a plastic tarp stapled over them, you could always felt a breeze though.

One of the most vivid memories I have of that bathroom happened early on. I remember getting up to go to the restroom in the middle of the night. While sitting on the toilet, I looked over at the wall where the claw footed tub stood and it appeared to be breathing. I was nearsighted as a child and didn’t get glasses till high school so I had to squint to get a better look at that breathing wall…that’s when I realized that the wall wasn’t breathing after all. In actuality, it was hundreds of daddy long legs congregating back there and moving rhythmically together. To this day that was one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen! I should have been scared, but I just remember being fascinated by the image.

Later in life I learned that these spiders are very social and communing together is common. The fact that they seemed to be moving is because they were. Apparently daddy longlegs will shake violently when they feel threatened. My appearance in the middle of the night was probably ample reason for them to feel a threat.

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