|Our old house|
“An old house is a cold house” and all farming families knew this to be true. Cold seeped through every crack and crevice, between lathing and ancient plaster, around windows, even through the electric outlets, and our own old house was no exception.
Vacant since before electricity and plumbing, our old house was barely livable, but we would be moving in the second day of September. After tremendous effort, only the first floor would barely meet our needs, with the second floor having only one bulb.
Winter was brutal that year. Deep snow surrounded our house, challenging every board and window. Non-insulated water pipes froze along with the newly laid septic line. Now that 1958-59 winter was called the "mini-ice age".
It took our strong parents who had lived in other old houses to stoke coal and oil in kitchen and front room heaters, cover every bed with elderly wool quilts, and surround us five children with warmth and family.
In evenings, we all gathered together in the front room with books, blankets and sweaters, and an ancient black and white television. Nothing was different to us children. This was life as we knew it.
|Robert, Mary, Don, Bill, and me 1959|
Even though upstairs was bitter cold enough to freeze a glass of water solid, our house sheltered us while layers of wool warmth covered three older children sleeping there. Below, our parents, with toddlers, slept in the darkness of a December winter.
|At Grandma's house|
front: Robert, Bill, me
back: Don, Mary, Dad, Mom
I confess that my eyes are tearing up as this is being written. Images sharp as the day our lives were lived out in this old house linger before me. The wool quilts, heaters where we stood, and the laughter echoing in hollow walls surround me.