KEENE WRITER - Barbara Scanlon Keene
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Manhattan in the Morning
Choices
Smoke & Mirrors University
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Root Cellar Memories/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
BARBARA SCANLON KEENE: Moon Township
September 23, 2010
 
I have bittersweet memories of the root cellars in my childhood home in Munhall. We had two, actually. My mom called them fruit cellars, but I suspect it is the same as root cellars.
 
When I was about 10 or 11 years old, I snooped myself right out of the wonderful, endearing belief in Santa Claus. Every fall my brothers and sisters and I were told to stay out of the fruit cellars. My mom always had some silly story for us about why we could not go in there in the fall (animals came in from the cold, special apples were growing in there, etc.).
 
Well, I had had enough of not knowing what was going on in there and chose to sneak in one afternoon all by myself. The first one had nothing spectacular going on and did indeed smell like special apples or something was growing in there.
 
The second one, however, had the mother-load. There were boxes of toys and five brand-new bicycles sitting right there for all the world to see (if you snuck into places you weren't supposed to be). I stood there in awe for what felt like an hour but was more like 30 seconds. I ran out, closed the door tightly and ran to find my mother. She, of course, told me that they were hiding Christmas toys for the neighbors, but I was too wise for my own good and knew that wasn't the case.
 
She told me NOT to tell my siblings, and as far as I can remember I didn't. I spent the rest of the day, and the next few days, fighting with the reality that I knew those gifts were not for the neighbors and that my parents most likely were Santa Claus. I wanted to believe in Santa again. I was so mad at myself for snooping. I told my brothers and sisters that I heard scary noises coming from behind those dark and eerie doors so that they would not snoop themselves out of such a cherished, childhood fantasy.
 
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