Monday, January 22, 2007

Making Fire

I visited my friend Maggie Lee more than anyone else. One winter her Dad decided he was going to save money. He would not buy matches that year. They kept a fire going. One cold winter morning she and I woke early and were playing loud. Her Dad awoke and he called out to her to start kindling up the fire.

I knew very well what she was up to as she got up. She was giggling. She found a very small coal of fire, so she took ashes on a piece of paper and started covering it up to smother it. Then as it died, she said in a long drawn-out manner, "Pappa, the fire is out."Well, he hit that cold floor and started throwing fire logs toward the fireplace. Of course, to no avail. The fire was out.

We were in the bed laughing our head off. He was saying, "Next year I'm gonna buy me a box of matches. Next year I'm gonna buy me a hundred boxes of matches."We were so tickled we laughed out loud. That was a mistake.

He said to us, "Get up - you will walk to Turner's house." This was his brother who lived about a fourth of a mile through the frost. We went about daylight and carried enough fire on a shovel to start a fire in the fireplace and cookstove. Needless to say, we learned a lesson.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

The Hard Cold Winter

I experienced the harshness of the elements when my sister Sadie's son, Virgil, was born. Her family had to vacate the house they had rented, so another family shared one large room of their house with them until the baby came as it was so near time.

I went to help her out after the baby was there. It was very cold and the snow was about two feet deep. I cooked on a wood-burning heating stove for the five of us, took care of Sadie in bed and the baby. Then mothers stayed in bed ten days after childbirth. I did the wash, helped carry water, hung clothes outside where they were frozen as fast as they were hung on the line, and emptied and cleaned pots as there was no bathroom.
All of this living was done in one room. It was not a very warm room, but we were just thankful to have that and enough food to eat. At that time her husband was not working, so they got what they called "commodities," state aide, I suppose. I remember the canned beef was so good.

When Sadie was strong enough, they moved to another house closer to us. They had one room on one side of a breezeway. Way across the hall and through one side of another person's kitchen was her kitchen. The only heat there was an old open fireplace.
The floor had so many cracks we put quilts on the floor to keep out the wind. They would raise off the floor when the wind was strong. This was the house she died in later.

Times were hard.