Growing up in a family of mostly adults, I wondered, “How in the world can he or she remember what happened in 19??” It seemed that anyone older than 30 could name a date and time of an event in their past. I sat hour after hour listening to stories of war, depression, deaths, births, marriages, and whispered divorces. What was it that gave my elders the uncanny ability to recite precise moments and experiences that had occurred in their lives?
During the winter, we sat at wood stoves in my grandparents’ house. The stove was the source of heat for the entire house. Let me back up… I guess it could have been a wood stove, but I distinctly remember a pail of coal sitting on the floor next to it, so it must have burned coal. This stove also served as the only cooking appliance available and many children, parents, aunts, and uncles were fed from this stove.
My grandmother was part Cherokee and wore her hair in a gray twisted braid long enough to rival Rapunzel. I don’t remember if she ever cooked from an electric or gas stove.
The house was always warm and sometimes, too warm. The smell from the burnt coal or wood would cling to my clothes and hair until the first opportunity to shed them in the basement of my own house. I love the smell of burning wood, but no so much when it is attached to my body.
Presently, my family and I live in a modest ( by today’s standards) two story brick traditional house. We’ve lived here for 10 years. It is the third house that my husband and I have owned, but the first house that was now new when we bought it. The house was built in the 70’s (19 not 18). We have experienced the joy of remodeling. It has been slow going, to say the least.
My first goal was to remove the eye sores which included an entire house of slick, shiny, vinyl wall covering that would be right at home on the walls of a vintage PCB condo (Don’t be offended, you know what I’m talking about)! Every single wall, in every room and hallway had the same exact paper. Another eyesore was the cover abundance of ceiling fans. The house has bedrooms, 2 ½ baths, dining room, living room, kitchen, den, and breakfast room. If you are counting that is a total of 11 rooms. We had TEN ceiling fans. My sister pointed out that if they were all turned on at the same time, the house would lift right off its foundation (Hence, the movie “UP”).
One particular “eyesore” that I’ve lived with for ten years, is a circa 1977 wood stove insert manufactured my Wood Chief. It is a massive piece of black metal with brass details around the door and handles of the glass doors. The glass doors act as a barrier to separate the fire from the person who is trying to enjoy the crackling sounds and to keep them from feeling any amount of warmth while cuddling with a cup of hot chocolate. It was produced entirely to heat an entire house and I suppose roast a turkey for Thanksgiving.
Do you see where I am going with this? I have returned to my childhood AND I can recite the date and time or a specific event. Winter of 1969, my grandmother died, and the grandchildren gathered in the kitchen by the coal/wood stove that heated the entire house! (Huh! How did that happen?) How can I remember that- when I can’t remember where my cell phone and keys are?
So, to get the point of this store… I guess I had a point… not sure anymore.
I have been longing for ten years to remove the third eyesore and enjoy an open fireplace with a roaring fire. I was informed today by a Certified Chimney Sweep that that would probably no happen. But that it is safe, as is, to have a fire even a roaring fire! Tonight, I’m hoping for a little cooler air as the sun goes down so that I can build my first fire in three years.