Monday, June 1, 2015

Bio #5 - Tales of My Mother's Basement

An example of an ancient gas furnace, likely similar to the one Letty describes
Now we go downstairs to the basement. Our bathroom was in the basement, and when Mary and I, or Dorothy (my cousin who stayed with us often) and I had a bath after supper, if we made too much noise or were too long, Mom would give us a scolding. The big white cast-iron bath was six feet long. You could just about swim in it. The toilet had a brown tank, white bowl, and brown wooden seat and lid, and made a loud scary noise when I pushed the button. Maybe I was just nervous, but I hated to go down to the toilet alone, past the furnace. That furnace was the best and newest out, but I was plum scared of it. Mary and I called it the "Octopus." It was shaped like a high wide iron tank, three or four feet wide, with pipes for warm air going to each room. These pipes were a foot in diameter. Sometimes we'd go down with Dad in the fall when he would light the gas ring in it for the winter, and watch him set it going The first poof and then a nice blue flame. Boy, it soon warmed up the house.

Also in the basement, Dad had a work bench, tool box, and lots of interesting tools, Tools fascinated me because you could make things with them. On the opposite side (west side) of the basement, there was a big wooden bin built, maybe eight feet long and three or four feet high, and part of the front was removable like a gate. I bet you wonder what this bin was for, and I will tell you. It's interesting because I have never seen one before or since. It was a potato bin, and herein lies a story. Over the bin was a small opening through the wall to the outdoors. All year, except in the fall, it was covered with a wooden cover. The three fall months it had a screen on. Only when we were filling the bin in September was it uncovered. So we could let the dug, dry potatoes pour in, down the shute that Dad made, into the bin. Sometimes, we kids would get fed up doing it the right way, and would stand back as far as we could and fire them in one at a time. As the hole in the wall was only about 8" x 16", and we owned the lot beside our house, and it was all in potatoes, you can imagine the temptation to pitch a few. We had lots of potatoes off that lot. Of course a few dozen got squashed on the side of the house, much to Dad's disgust.

It tells you how new an indoor bathroom was, to have it situated in an unfinished basement. My parents continued the tradition of planting potatoes and saving them for the winter. However, we had a wooden box for the, but no entry from outside the house, so we just carried them in baskets and dumped them.