Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bio #4 - Our House - to 1920

Dear Melinda,

Now I am going to tell you about our house we all lived in, until I was seven years old. I loved the house because there was lots of room inside, places to play hide and seek (in one game I shut a door on my brother Charlie's finger and nearly cut it off,) a big yard with a high wooden fence all around the back, a swing (where we always had fun on May 24th with flares stuck in the posts, a chicken coop and real chickens, 2 geese, I was scared to death of when I had to feed them. And best of all a big verandah that went right across the front of the house, with chairs, stools, and a hammock. We used to swing in it until we and it turned upside down, and roared with laughter. Many's the night when it was  too hot to sleep inside, we could sit on the steps and listen to the frogs croak, and adults talk. But I always had to have a sweater on as I caught cold so easily.

Then inside it was nice. Mom had shiny floors, and in winter we used to spend lots of our energy sliding on them in our socks. There were three bedrooms on one side of the wooden, cream and white colored house, and Mary and I had the middle one, off the dining room, the boys had the back one and Dad and Mom the front one, facing the verandah. Mom had long, brown wavy hair and I was always happy to see her do it, brush and wind it up. I think she was pretty, but lots of times she spanked us, mostly me, because I was always into mischief. But more of that later, as we are still on about the house.
Ice box, similar to the one Letty describes
The parlor was used for company and we lived mostly in the dining room and kitchen. The pantry (where all the food was kept) was a tiny room off the kitchen The back porch, which was added onto the house, had brooms, mops, coat hooks on two levels, low and high, and the ice box. The ice box today is called a refrigerator.(It was not a refrigerator. The ice was the only think keeping the food cool. Modern refrigeration, using chemicals such as Freon, had not yet been invented.) It was about 4 feet high and about twenty by twenty inches. The top third, I'd say, was where every two days the ice man came, and placed a huge piece of ice, and cussed if it was too high and he couldn't slam the lid down. We liked the ice man, especially on ice cream days when we all took a turn at the hand freezer, if Mom decided we could have ice cream for dessert. Once we nearly broke our teeth, when Mom put fresh raspberries in it instead of cooked ones. Really that was real ice cream: 1 quart real cream, 6 eggs (beaten,) vanilla, salt and sugar flavouring. There were no such things as "counter tops" and "stainless steel" sinks. We had a big square table which my Father had made. He had been a coach carpenter on the CPR till now, but inside work nearly killed him so he quit and joined the post office staff, and worked outside, as a postal transfer agent at the CPR station, until he retired in November 1941. Oh! I am wandering! Besides the table we had a wicker high-chair (white,) 6 chairs, sideboard and cabinet, stove and sink, in the kitchen. My Mom was a real super cook, cake and cookie and pickle maker. We never had much money, but we had lots of fun and lots to eat.

Its hard to realize this quaint and charming scene was part of my mother's living memory until last year (2014.) How life has changed! The table her father made, remained part of our family for years. It had a drawer in the middle where we kept the silverware.