At our father’s house there is a door from the kitchen into the garage. Now I know what you’re saying… “Hey, everybody has doors.” Well, good sir, please leave the wise-assing to me. This door is the most important part of the house. Should the house ever catch fire, the fire-fighters will pull up to the curb to find my step-mom standing on the sidewalk alone clutching a small, blind dog.
“Is there anyone left in the house!??” the chief will ask
“Yes, my husband, I think he’s almost got the door off,” she would deadpan.
This door may be the cosmic centerpiece of our family. It’s the closest thing we have to a museum.
Our grandfather purchased the door along with the rest of the house shortly after returning home from World War 2. Then he started a family and once the kids were old enough to stand they started the tradition of measuring them against the kitchen door and writing the date, and the all important “with shoes, or without shoes,” to settle any debates about height. And there were plenty. Liars and cheaters are called out in permanent ink – No few markings bear grandpa’s sarcastic asterisks like *on steroids or *stilts aren’t shoes.
Pretty soon word must have got out that there was a “measuring door” at the Peterson house and all of the neighborhood kids who knew our family got measured, then it spread to adults after a couple drinks at a Christmas party and it just kept rolling. Siblings and cousins are clustered around ages, not years, so the youngest can still compete with the oldest on a “taller than you were when you were my age” basis. In the drawer by the oven there’s a metal spatula that must always be used to ensure accuracy, because you need a standard for this sort of thing and we’re big fans of tradition.
When we were of courting age, if the family approved of your current romance they would be invited to be measured and recorded on the door – in pencil, just in case (MILK’s husband is the tallest mark, by a lot. The blind dog is at the bottom). If someone is not popular with the family they are not even shown the door, let alone measured. It is a great honor and a sign of our love if you are offered a slot on the door in ink. (We’re not the best with touchy feely stuff, so in lieu of sentiment, we have a door.)
There are four generations of friends and family on the door, and if the house ever comes down or is sold outside of the family MILK, Smokey or I will have to take it. There will be no need however to explain to our spouses why we have to get a grease stained kitchen door framed. They’re on the door. They’ll understand.
PS. According to one of my uncles the door is not as pristine a record as I believed. Apparently there was a misguided attempt at cleaning the door in 1956, performed by our Great Grandma Angie who was watching the boys for a week. You can actually see where she tried to clean the door in the picture. So I guess some of the really early measurements are gone.