Sunday, November 23, 2008


When I was young

Subject: when I was young!!
It was real cold outside yesterday when I went to the Hospital Wellness clinic to work use their exercise equipment. Was only 8 degrees F when I got up yesterday morning and only reached into the 20`s all day. People at the clinic were talking about how cold it was and it got me thinking of what it was like when I was younger. Our road, back then, was a private road so the town didn`t plow it. Our Father would get up real early, connect his plow to the front of his car and plow out the long road. The only houses on the road back then were the home place where my father`s family lived and our home. Many mornings the snow would be back almost as high again by the time us kids left for school. There were no school buses in our district so we walked to school, home for lunch and back to school. Dad once checked the distance with his car and said it was a mile one way. So, from the time we were 5 years old we walked a total of 4 miles every day. I started school at 4 years and had my 5th Birthday a couple days later, Most of our friends never needed boots to go to school as the main roads were all plowed. But, us kids needed boots just to get down our road to reach the main road. We often had wet feet if the snow was higher than our boots. Boy, that left your feet feeling frozen and aching all day at school. We would put on dry socks when we went home for lunch, but often those were wet from snow falling down into our boots as we walked back to school. Back then the boots were the kind that you slipped on over your shoes. I doubt kids today have ever heard of boots that you kept your shoes on and pulled the boots on over your shoes. Those boots were solid rubber, they didn`t have any laces in them, there was no way to make the tops of those boots close up tight against your legs to keep out the snow. We were not allowed to wear snow pants as they were once called. Girls had to wear dresses and the socks back then were only ankle high- no knee socks or long stockings for kids back then - so the legs were bare from the ankles to the knees. I remember thinking how lucky the boys were with their long pants protecting their legs from the harsh winds and cold snow. I remember how my legs would be real red and aching from the cold. Today I often wonder if that wasn`t what caused me to have leg and knee pains all through the years.

Now I do feel ancient as I remember those winter freezing outhouses, water pumped from the well, the pail and dipper sitting under the pump spout that you had to remember to leave enough water all the time for priming the pump with, the scrub board and large wash tubs- one for washing the clothes and the second one for rinsing the soap out, wood racks for drying on bad weather days, the long clotheslines ( I just put a new rope on my about 76 foot long pulley line), cooking on wood stoves (had one in our first apt. after we married-actually learned to bake with it), the old deep cistern at the end of the farmhouse filled with rain water, catching snow to melt on the stove for water for washing clothes , the old coal furnace that was banked at night and always went out before morning- oh how freezing cold it would get before Dad awoke to restart it again, ... I remember the old coal bin in the cellar under one of the cellar windows. The coal truck would back up into our driveway and stop near that cellar window. Then someone would go downstairs and open that window. The driver of the coal truck would then connect the long coal chute ( which looked like a playground slide with no support under it to hold it up. It connected to the back of the truck and the driver would then use his coal shovel to keep pushing the coal off the truck and down the chute through the window and landing in the coal bin. We had a short handled shovel down cellar by the coal bin. I remember watching my Dad using this shovel to throw some coal into the furnace and then he would light a fire As the fire got going good it would set the coal on fire and every time it started feeling cold in the house, it meant it was time to go down and shovel in more coal to keep the fire burning. I remember the huge square furnace cover that was in the dinning room. The dining room was once in the center of the house, but later on a new larger kitchen was added to the back of the house. This cover was called a grate and must have measured about 4 foot square. I remember under that grate was two tin cylinders one inside the other. They extended from inside the furnace in the cellar and came up to almost touching the dining room floor under the large sized grate cover. I will never forget those cylinders because one time my brother-in-law was helping my mother lay new linoleum on the dining room floor and they needed to remove the grate to cut out the shape of the grate. This happened when I was about 19 years old. They removed the cover while I was upstairs getting dressed for work. When I came downstairs I walked across the linoleum covered furnace with intentions of getting my High School jacket which hung on the wooden archway beyond the furnace. I never made it beyond the furnace as I fell through the linoleum right into the furnace scraping up both legs and both arms. Boy, did I ever look terrible to go to work -at all places at a Hospital caring for patients. Back then we used the red colored Mercurochrome on every cut. Even though we wore silk stockings, the red on every one of those scrapes and cuts showed through. The uniform had short sleeves, so every one of the cuts on the arms showed also. I must have looked like I got into a fight with a wild cat, or more like a bunch of wild cats. I sure learned how sharp the top of those round tin centers were. Today, looking back, I realize how lucky I was to fall straight down the empty center area or I would have had some very serious cuts instead of numerous scrapes and long thin cuts that were not real deep. Glad the Mercurochrome stopped the bleeding. I fully expected to be sent back home when I got to work. I was afraid they might not let me do nursing work around patients looking that bad. But, on the 3 to 11 shift I worked, there was just the one registered nurse and me. So, they would have been in a big mess if they hadn`t let me remain working. Things seemed backwards for a few days. It was usually me feeling sorry for the patients, but then the patients started worrying about me. I wasn`t used to that. But by a week or two all the cuts had healed and I no longer felt embarrassed about how I looked. I remember my mother asking me- what was with all this falling through things. I knew she was remembering years before when my brother and I fell through the old well boards on my Aunt and Uncles farm. That time the well was covered with snow and we were following another brother who said we were a long ways from the old well. First the well, then the furnace. OH, Well, neither of them left lasting scars , so I sure was lucky both times. I still have a fear of drowning if I am swimming and water touches my face. A few years later my father converted the coal furnace into an oil burning furnace and the large furnace cover was replaced with small grates in all the rooms. Was nice knowing the furnace wouldn`t go out during the night, even though there were no heat grates in the upstairs bedrooms. There was one small grate in the upstairs hall that allowed some heat to rise up from downstairs. It was chilly when you climb out from under the blankets, but not freezing like when I was small.

I remember how the mothers would save all the left over grease from frying and when there was enough they would use this grease for cooking. I remember the cans of lard that were often used to cook doughnuts in or for frying french fried potatoes in. All this lard seldom made anyone fat because there were no TV`s or computers to keep people sitting around for long periods of time. Kids spent every nice weather day playing outside in active games which gave them lots of exercise. No one wanted to stay inside if they didn`t have to. It was hard for a mother to keep a child inside even when the child were sick. Being made to stay indoors felt like being punished. Today a child feels like it is being punished if it is told to shut off the TV or the Computer and go outside and play for a while.
Guess I better stop thinking as the more I think, the older I feel. :) OH, how much easier we do have it today. At least we did have electricity- but used kerosene lanterns when the power went out. As hard as our life was, it had to have been much much worse in our parents and great grand parents day.
Maybe I should explain what :) means as it might become outdated years from now and if the great grand kids ever read this, there might not be someone around to explain to them that :) just stand for smiling. Also, I want those reading this years from now to know that I am only telling you about what it was like when I was a kid so you will know more about your Family History. I am not trying to compare my growing hardships with yours as every generation will always have it`s own hardships to handle.Love of Family will always be special to me.

I remember the red Mercurochrome! It was much better than having iodine put on your wounds,
Out here we still have a firewood stove. Dot, your story reminds of some of my mother's stories.
Dot, once again I sit here mesmerized by your stories. You have a wonderful way of writing your memories. Thank goodness you weren't hurt more badly after falling!

Living in FL we didn't have to worry about the snow, but my mom had many stories about walking to school. And, my grandmothers house had no heat except for a pot bellied stove in the living room, and of course there were fireplaces. One fireplace in the bedroom was through the wall so it heated two rooms. We also used the outhouse, and pump. I remember as a young girl taking baths in the big ol' tin tub always hoping no one was looking in the windows. :)

Take care, and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family. (((HUGS)))
I remeber how it used to be cold when i was a kid and having to wear galoshes for our shoes.
I know you must have had more snow living in the country but there was alot more snow back then.
Have a nice Thanksgiving
Wow, I remember Mercurochrome and my Mom using lard and saving grease for cooking. We kids played outside in the winter all day long (when there was no school) only coming in to change mittens and/or socks. The smell of wool drying near the stove filled the house! Thanks for the trip down memory lane!
Stopping in to see how you're doing, Dot. Hope all is well with you and yours. (((HUGS)))
I want to apologize to everyone for taking so long to reply to your greatly appreciated comments. I am spending time trying to finish some Christmas gifts in time along with finding time to finish more Christmas shopping. I sure hope I get everything done in time. I will be visiting your blogs as soon as i find time as i miss reading them.
Hello Hillgrandmom. I still have my Ben Franklin wood stove in my living room. One son asked me why I do not remove it as it would give me more room. But, if the power goes off for very long I like knowing it is there if I need it. I only used it the once this winter so far, but I never know when I will need it again. I keep enough wood on hand to last at least 2 or 3 days. Hopefully I will not need to use it this year.
Yes, I also hated that iodine that smarted so bad.
Thanks Sally. I did have a wonderful Thanksgiving, my sons all know how to cook and this year it was my youngest son who invited me to join them and he did all the cooking.
I think I would prefer the snow over the bad storms that hit Florida every year. My older sister spends every winter in Florida. But she is always back home near in New York during the warmer months.
I used 2 of those tin round tubs for washing and rinsing out diapers when the twins were born and the water froze up under the road. We had to wait till spring to tear up the road and thaw out the water line. Things sure are much easier now than they were back then.
Yes Walker, it sure seems like we had more snow years ago. I remember one year- think it was in the late 70`s or early 80`s when we had enough snow to completely cover my son`s car that was parked on the other lot for the winter. I took pictures when we couldn`t see any of the car and again in the spring when enough snow had melted for the very top of the car to start showing to prove the car was really there.
But back in the 30`s and 40`s the snow was much deeper than in the past years.It snowed more often, seems like all it did back then was snow. Now we get a lot more rain this time of year that replaces much of that snow.
Hi pbs, I also remember changing those wet socks and tossing out wet mittens down on the large furnace grate to dry. I can even remember wearing old wool socks on our hands when we ran out of dry mittens.
Isn`t it funny how we would put on dry socks and then pull on the same boots that got filled with snow the first time. If Mother caught us, then the boots were laid down facing the register to dry, otherwise we would head back out even if the boots were wet inside. No wonder our feet were always feeling so cold.
Sally, sorry I have been so busy working on Christmas gifts that I haven`t been here recently, but things should slow down after Christmas and I can be back visiting all my friends blogs again as I do miss reading them.
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