Woster: All the good a garage can do
You can understand, then, why the notion of a two-stall garage would excite me.
When we bought our big house in Pierre in the fall of 1972, one thing in the newspaper ad that drew my attention was the promise of a two-stall garage.
We’d had a small garage at our North Conklin house in Sioux Falls, but two stalls? I figured I’d be walking proud in the neighborhood. Yes, we only had the one car, a mid-sized station wagon. Most people I knew back then had one car. Only farmers and ranchers had pickups. But one car and two stalls? I figured I’d have acres of storage space, something we’d never had before in our marriage.
In our first rented house in Sioux Falls, I parked along the curb on 21st street off Cliff Avenue. People did that all over town. Yes, it was cold on a winter morning, but I didn’t know any better. When we rented the place on Conklin, I could get my vehicle in the garage if I squeezed it up against the right side. And I could hang the few tools I owned against the driver’s-side wall, which meant remembering to skirt by them as I exited the car. The dryer vented into the garage, so it was pretty comfortable in cold weather, if a bit damp. Sometimes the lint made it appear as if the snow outside had begun sifting through the roof.
Our first house in Pierre, rented, had a garage, I guess. It was big enough front to back for me to get the station wagon inside with the front bumper nestled right up against the back wall. The garage had a three-section, accordion-style door that came off its track every time I opened or closed it. When we bought a small home on the north side of town, it didn’t have a garage. It had off-street parking, if you call a break in the curb and two tracks in the lawn off-street parking. In its favor? I never had to wrestle with an accordion door.
You can understand, then, why the notion of a two-stall garage would excite me. Imagine how deflated I was when we toured the place and I learned that neither stall in this two-stall garage was wide enough for my vehicle. Not even a self-respecting milk cow would have called those things stalls.
The house, built in 1906, was wonderful in nearly every other way, with birds-eye maple floors, oak woodwork and stairway and a sprawling, two-level lawn on the corner of the street across from the governor’s residence. Nancy loved everything about it and immediately began making lists of projects: Replace the old wallpaper, which consisted mostly of lavender and grey flowers, open the kitchen by tearing out the mudroom wall, things like that. I started planning a way to make the garage serviceable.
I never did, even though I tore away the partition between the stalls and replaced the two single doors with a double door. There just wasn’t enough room for a station wagon and anything else. Eventually I was able to store my first boat, a 15-footer, in the garage, but I still parked the car on the street.
We lived there a long, long time before we tore down that garage and built a magnificent replacement. It was the Taj Mahal of garages — two vehicles wide and long enough that I could back my boat in, never unhook it from my pickup, get out and shut the door. Oh, yeah, I had a pickup by then. Who didn’t? We had a second car, too. Who didn’t? And still we had room for all sorts of things, including the mower, tables Nancy was refinishing, piles of wood I figured might come in handy some day, a couple of kayaks and the odds and ends that, over time, a garage collects as if it were a giant magnet.
One of the worst things about moving from that place was emptying the garage. Gosh, I fought to keep some things I hadn’t touched, hadn’t even seen, in years. When we finally emptied the place, I vowed never again to keep so much junk.
You should see what’s in our garage these days.