2/23/2014 4:51:00 PM Publisher's Column
Until our water supply to the barn froze up this week, despite the cold temps and high fuel costs, the winter had not been much of a problem. The cars have started every day, we haven't gotten stuck, the furnaces at home and work have worked well--I haven't really had anything to complain about but didn't realize it. Now that I had a frozen water line, I recall real winter problems and realize how good I really have it.
Back when I was a kid, I had to be careful not to leave a glass of water sitting on the dresser by my bed in the winter. If I did, the glass might break when the water froze. When I climbed out of bed, I would wrap a blanket around me, grab my clothes and run downstairs to warm up in front of the wood-burning stove before dressing.
After getting dressed, it was time to carry wood in from the wood pile for the kitchen range and the "round oak" stove, so Mom would have fuel for cooking and heating.
After chores and breakfast, it would be time to pull on snow pants, boots, coat, scarf, hat and mittens for the walk to school a half mile away across country. I have a sister, Janet, a year younger than I am who walked with me, often conning me into carrying her in return for taking the route of my choice on the walk.
At the one-room school, water had to be pumped by hand from the outside well and was served in a large bucket with a metal dipper shared by everyone. You just scooped up a drink, then handed it to the next in line and waited your turn in line to use the restroom, if you were so inclined. The boys had a two-holer and the girls had a two-holer, located in the entryway of the school building-not heated but at least inside.
When she was one year old, Janet got whooping cough and ended up in St. Marys Hospital for a week and a half. When we went to visit her, we would heat large stones on the kitchen range to use as a heat source on the sleigh we would ride to the McGovern place, our nearest neighbor and the place where we parked our car in the winter, then would drive into town to the hospital. We had to leave the car at the neighbor's because the township didn't maintain the road to our farm in winter.
Telephone service was a wall mounted phone with a crank, the body of wood, with a receiver hanging on the side. There were eight parties on our party line, so private communications were pretty much unheard of.
Winter entertainment was listening to the radio, often with a significant amount of static making it necessary to pay careful attention if you wanted to hear the full story.