Yes, Disneyland and Universal Studios have some wonderful rides. But for homegrown exhilaration, it was tough to beat theat the Hollister house.
Nine-year-old Gary Hollister discovered the marvel within weeks of the family’s move into the old three-story Victorian house on the edge of town, and he kept it to himself for almost a day and half before letting his 8-year-old brother Billy in on the secret.
After that, it was easy to make new friends. Easy to make a little money, too, at 25 cents per slide.
Unlike most laundry chutes with a simple vertical drop, the Hollisters’ chute was unique from interconnection to drop spots on all three floors. It featured a lengthy slope of about 70 degrees between the third and second floors, then a 5-foot vertical drop to a similar slope cutting back the other way to an eight-foot drop from the basement ceiling into a pile of pillows, couch cushions and dirty laundry.
Feet-first was the recommended method, although Gary and his new pal Ron pulled off memorable head-first efforts that earned them neighborhood acclaim.
There was a “no girls” policy early on. But that ended the day Ginger and Wendy heard of the fun and sweet-talked an invitation from Gary at school. And Billy caught wind of the intrusion when he came home and heard giggles coming from the third floor.
“Now, girls, once you start down, keep your body straight and your hands at your side, and you’ll go through like water in a hose,” Gary said. “Don’t lift your knees or ball up in any way, or you could get stuck. Got it?”
“I’ll show ‘em,” said Billy, who assumed a seated position on the sink counter, put his legs inside the laundry chute’s pull-down door, leaned forward and disappeared like a mole down a hole, as the word “Geronimo” echoed back.
“OK, Ginger,” Gary said. “You’re next. Feet-first, if you please!”
“Forget that!” Ginger said as she eschewed a helpful lift onto the counter and dove head-first into the chute, with Wendy on her heels in like manner.
It was the first tandem head plunge in Hollister laundry chute history, but the point was quickly forgotten when neither girl emerged into the basement pile.
Fearing they were stuck, Gary called out from every drop station in the house and received no answer. He then dropped a basketball down the chute from the third floor and it came through with no trouble.
“Holy cow,” Billy hollered up while climbing the stairs. “The girls got swallowed.”
“Only one thing to do,” Gary responded. “Got to go in and find ‘em.”
He dove headlong into the chute but found no obstruction – just a long, dark slide of twists and turns before landing on a haystack near Ginger and Wendy in a strange new world of anime Amazons and flesh-eating monsters. No link to home except for Billy, and he soon followed, feet-first, with “Geronimo” still on his lips.
(This was written as a Writers Kickstart prompt, 500 words or less on the four-part topic Laundry, Children, Dirty and Secrets.)
Copyright, Keith L. Olson, 2013