They were part of our apartment building and they used to be fall out shelters--tunnels that ran underground from one apartment building to the other.
"Go play. Dad is trying to study." Mom would shoo us out of the apartment, so we really had no choice...did we? It was the heat of the summer in New York and we didn't have a television.
Sometimes my brother Tim and I collected kids along the way. Nobody ever asked where we were headed. The forbidden was always unspoken.
The laundry rooms for the apartment building were down there, but there wasn't very good lighting, and the tunnels had a damp, moldy feel to them. And it echoed down there. How great is that? Perfect for playing hide and seek. The fact that none of us was supposed to be down there, combined with a creepy, dimly lit area that used to be a bomb shelter really cranked up the excitement meter on the game.
I can remember feeling such relief when we ventured back out into the hot sun. Kind of like we had defeated a villain or something down there and come out unscathed.
So when my friend Margaret and I went suburban exploring a while back and we found the abandoned house with the Keep Out sign, it was the tunnels all over again. Don't go into the house. My mom's voice came up loud and clear in the back of my brain. Hmmm...we really had no choice, did we?