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Chip Bergeron

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Cellar Wars
by Chip Bergeron
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Rated "G" by the Author.
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Recent poems by Chip Bergeron
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           >> View all 112

The 1950''s...A hot, humid day, a cool cellar, toy soldiers, a gaggle of small boys



In the summer

When it got hot and sticky

And playing outdoors was no longer fun

We had the cellar,

Dank and cool,

Perfect anodyne until it was time

To go to the pool.


We all had cellars, I recall,

But John’s mom was a beautician

Most of his cellar was done up and given over

To old ladies getting their hair re-blued.

Tom’s mom was nice but very neat,

Hated messes,

And besides, he didn’t have much stuff.


Bruce….nah…..when at Bruce’s

We preferred to argue

Over baseball cards and Batman

On his big back porch, screened in, shady,

With blue and dark red flagstones

In the concrete floor...


So we always went to my place

Where mom was a benign despot

Who could be counted on for snacks

And didn’t care, as long as we didn’t fight,


It wasn’t much,

Not finished,

Bare concrete floor; One side

Dad’s “workshop” furnace,

Freezer and washing machine,

Open ceiling, floor joists,

Water and heating pipes around the perimeter

Asbestos. Modern parents would be appalled.


The rest was mine,

At least until mom had enough of the mess

And said “Pick it up, OR ELSE”

Later it would become her craft shop

Cries of “Spray paint it Gold!!”

Echoing in clouds of hydrocarbon

And cigarette smoke.

The absence of an explosion

Was one of the great mysteries

Of the western world.

But by then I was long gone.


The cellar floor was the base

Of my Lionel empire,

Inside of which

Battalions of plastic soldiers

Won World War II

Over and all over again.

This was the ‘50’s, remember;

The “Big One” had just been won,

And Viet Nam not even a nightmare, yet.


Pint-sized tacticians and generals,

Never enough tanks or artillery.

Fifty cents bought a bunch

Of plastic soldiers,

Or one tank or cannon.

“Too expensive” was the verdict.

How many generals

Have their defense budgets

Controlled by their parents?


We made our own “explosions”

Sounds of gunfire, the din of war,

Officer’s orders-creative sound effects.

Nobody ever won, or lost

Nobody wanted to be the Axis.

Nobody killed, nobody wounded.

Bare legs on cool cement

In contrast to the fiery sun outside

We had a lot of fun

And cookies halfway through.

Why can’t all wars be like that?


-August 5, 2010

Chip Bergeron









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Reviewed by J Howard 7/30/2011
memories... the bits of our life we are bold enough to share- thanks for sharing,
Reviewed by Regis Auffray 2/18/2011
Wonderful childhood memories well-shared, Chip. I remember our cellar too but it was without light and without a cement floor; just plain, damp dirt. Love and peace to you,

Reviewed by Richard King 8/15/2010
Boy, my poem is falling fast. This one is neck and neck with Ron Hull's Snakes, Snails and Puppy Dog Tales. I think I'd give him the edge, but it's real close. Check with David MacLellan to see if he can tell you who the winner is. Thanks for playing (Then again, maybe you didn't even know your were) Dick
Reviewed by Donna Chandler 8/15/2010
Ah, memories of cool cellars on hot summer days. I can little boys playing there with their toy soldiers, while Mom is putting cookies on a plate. Thanks for sharing your memory.


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