In the Basement

We knew everyone in the basement.  Oh!   Thank you for letting me write that down.  It’s been floating around in my head for a few years now.  I said it out loud once and it sounded like such a fun book title.  I have no desire to write a book, but I do love to come up with book titles.  So, book titles float around in my head, along with song lyrics and interesting words.  Words like degringolade and fubsy.  All the while my fingers are typing them over and over again to the rhythm of some song or beat.  Ever since Ms. Stark’s typing class in 9th grade, my fingers and toes have had this non-stop typing thing going on.  Not so much the toes anymore… thankfully!

Anyway, none of this is the point.  The point is – tonight was the annual Turkey Dinner at the Methodist Church.  It’s their 57th year to serve the meal, and it’s another one of those wonderful markers of the season.  November has arrived, it’s a Thursday night, and Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  When I see that huge banner stretched across the main highway going through town, announcing that it’s time for this meal, it’s just another one of those “ahhh” moments in my life.

I started attending this event as a little girl.  My grandparents were members of the Methodist Church, and I can remember going early in the day with Nana to deliver her turkey and pies.  The meal was down in the basement, and I always thought this was the most interesting place.  We don’t have many basements in Portales, so heading underground to this long, low-ceilinged room was always exciting to me.

Down in the basement, the tables were placed end to end like a string of dominoes, and you had to squeeze down the alley-ways between them, trying not to hit the heads of the people sitting in those dented metal folding chairs with your elbows, carrying that tray of turkey and dressing, green beans, fruit salad, a roll and pumpkin pie.  And we knew everyone in the basement.  Family, friends, teachers, neighbors, store owners… they were all there laughing and talking.  It was a den of fun noise.  The bazaar was at the far end of the basement, where you could find quilts and little plastic dolls with crocheted dresses.

A few years ago we all experienced a bittersweet day in this little town.  It was the day the old church building was torn down, making way for the new and improved one.  And it’s a pretty building.  There’s no basement.  Their fellowship hall is big and spacious and light and airy.  The members were beaming tonight, telling us they’d served 869 people for lunch, and would serve far more than that for supper this evening.  Could never have done that in the basement!  And I sure didn’t know everyone there… but I knew plenty.  Family, friends, past teachers, store owners… they were all there laughing and talking.  I loved my turkey and dressing, green beans, fruit salad, roll and pumpkin pie.  Loved it, loved it.  Loved sitting with good friends and hugging people I hadn’t seen in ages.  Loved going down the line and being served by familiar faces… our mayor being one of them.  It’s just a good time.  Thanks to the people of the Methodist Church for working so hard to preserve this tradition, and for doing it so well.

And by the way… people are so nice.  Our tickets tonight were courtesy of a good friend we do business with.  Thank you!  And today while I was buying some special ribbon at Hobby Lobby, I was at the check-out counter when I realized my ribbon wasn’t on sale for 50% off.  It was the wrong kind of ribbon.  The woman behind me in line had two 40% off coupons and insisted I take one.  She saved me almost five dollars.   These acts of kindness from friends and strangers truly enrich our lives, and I’m so grateful.

(I have a wonderful 1974 directory.  Great pictures!  Let me share this portion about the basement…   “The basement, which was constructed in 1929, served as a church until 1936.  Brother Sowell and Mr. J.M. Bradley used Mr. Bradley’s big team of horses to plow up the ground where the basement was to be dug.  They needed someone to drive the horses because it took both of them to hold the plow in the ground.  Brother Sowell asked his wife’s assistance but she was afraid, so they called Mrs. L.L. Brown, who was used to horses, and she gladly drove the team while they broke the ground for the new church.”)

4 Responses to “In the Basement”

  1. Kim says:

    I did love that old basement, though. So many wedding receptions and 4-H meetings!

  2. Jason says:

    Hey Sandy,

    Wish I knew you was going, would of gone with you. LOL It’s alright though. Glad you enjoyed it, I know I did. Someone in Student Special Services gave me a ticket and I went after I took a break at home [took it to go]. I can’t believe the crowd there though. Many nice people too. I mean everyone smiled, friendly, and just happy. Even the cooks were in good mood, just overly busy. Anyways, thats a cool story about the basement. My dad back home has a basement and I love going down there. Just the idea of going underground is fun. The lighting and the window peaking outside is just a fun feeling. Don’t know if I could sleep down there but it’s fun. My sister has a basement too. Her daughters have bedrooms down there. I know a lot of people with basements back at home; here however, not to many. Nice story! 🙂

  3. Mary Anne says:

    Yes that was a wonderful tradition that I loved when I lived in Portales. Wish I had been there last night. I am ready for that first plate of turkey and dressing. I have many memories of church activities in the basement–Valentine’s Dinners, summer youth activities, Sunday night youth group meals and my own wedding reception. I even took an acting class from Mrs. Ezell and we did several performances on the stage that was in the end of the room. Thanks for bringing those memories back.

  4. bette says:

    Loved the story. I remember when we would come to visit Jamie and Ernest Wheeler, we would go with the McGuffin girls and go roller skating in the basement of the Methodist church. What fun we had!!! Great memories!

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