Readers recall what life was like before modern conveniences.
Appreciates Central Heat Most of All
Because I spent my childhood without modern conveniences, I have decided that the luxury I most appreciate is central heat.
In our old farmhouse, the wood stove in the kitchen was the only source of heat in the winter months. It was hot near the stove, but the rest of the room and the house were freezing cold.
When the weather was really cold, Mom and Dad would sleep on cots near the stove so they could keep the fire going through the night. We four children slept upstairs under feather comforters. It was no use complaining to Mom about how cold it was, because she had slept in those same beds, in the same room, under the same comforters when she was growing up.
However, to prove a point, we once took a tin cup half full of water upstairs with us when we went to bed. The next morning, the water was frozen solid. When we showed it to Mom, she just smiled and said we should be grateful that it was warm near the stove.
On extremely cold days, we children would sit on chairs placed in front of the oven. We sat with quilts wrapped around us and with our feet propped up on the oven. We played games like “I Spy” and “Riddle-Riddle-Ree” until we got bored, and then we would begin accusing each other of cheating or taking up too much room, or breathing too loud on purpose. That’s when someone would get insulted and go into the corner and sulk for a few minutes, until the cold set in, before returning to the group. Then we would all get along for awhile, before the ordeal would start all over again.
The winter I was 10 years old, an older cousin gave me a wonderful coat she had outgrown. Even with the coat on, I was cold as I waited for everyone to get ready for church. So, I moved as close as I could to the stove. Then I decided it would be even warmer if I leaned against the stove. I was enjoying the heat, when my mother suddenly yanked me away from the stove. Just then I became aware of the smell of wool being scorched. My beautiful new coat had a big brown burn mark on the back. Luckily, my mom was able to salvage the coat.
Summer work was hot
The heat the wood stove generated in the summer months made the room stifling hot, especially during canning season. As we children helped with canning, we did not suffer in silence. Instead, we continually let Mom know just how miserable we were. Somehow she always managed to remain calm as she told us to keep peeling, washing jars, washing fruit, and so on.
I have fond memories of growing up in the old farmhouse, as I’m sure my siblings would agree. However, I will never take central heat for granted.
Joan – Southboro, Massachusetts