Life before WWII

I remember that we mostly had mismatched dishes and silverware when we were little kids. The ‘Sir David Beatty spoon’ was worth fighting over at meal times :>)

Not sure about grandma’s set. I think it mostly matched. She really enjoyed her kitchen. Often had her ‘Ladies Aid’ over for ‘hors deuvres’. Little strange tasting sandwiches, bread with the crust shaved off. She set the table with real linen. The ladies all discussed the needs of the community and how they would gather and distribute essentials to the needy and find employment for the bread winners of the Traditional Families common in those days.. They were the community welfare, working with the local churches… before govt took over…

I remember her early kitchen during WWII. The floor and cabinets were covered in linoleum. The ‘everyday’ table cloths were something called ‘Oilcloth’. After WWII when things got better (end of rationing) she got all new stainless steel topped cabinets and better flooring. the one ceiling bulb was rep;aced with the latest ‘fluorescent’ lighting. The big box chest freezer on the porch after WWII rationing was over, replaced the town ‘Locker‘. The frozen chickens, beef and pork were much handier.

After WWII a new white electric ‘wringer’ washing ‘machine’ in basement came to replace the old pale green clamp on ‘wringer’ that was separate. Before the electric wringer machine, mom and gram both used the big copper tub on the kerosene burners to boil the water and wash clothes (same tub used for plucking chickens). The big 80 gal post WWII water heater was something special. It somehow was controlled to only provide electricity at night, cheaper rates. Clothes were all hung outside to dry unless the rainy weather prevented it.

The first flooring I recall in our kitchen and grandma’s, was something found at navy surplus. In rolls, it supposedly was left over from ships as some of our original construction material? Larry’s floors were a cement board from surplus. Hard, cold and gray..

Our kitchen had an iron hand pump, like the one at an aunt’s little house I first recall. Dad and grandpa put a little electric piston pump under the kitchen, it pumped water from the concrete cistern that collected rain water from the house roof gutters. The water was yellow and not much of it. Little pump often froze in cold winter. Had to go down into spider crawl space with gas blowtorch, to thaw. Then install electric light bulb for freezing nights and days.

A weekly bath was taken in cold yellow water, with some added water boiled on the little kerosene stove mom cooked on. Before the porcelain tub and electric pump, the kitchen floor wash tub was my ‘spa’.  The little kerosene stove had a round gallon can, that gurgled as the kerosene dripped into the burners. It also helped heat our home in cold weather. Our electric water heater in the hallway, after end of WWII, was a welcome addition, as was our first electric stove and fluorescent ceiling light. The hanging incandescent bulb was finally replaced. :>)

After WWII ended, uncle Harry came home from the war and married Betty, grandpa dug two pipelines from the new well in the yard, one for our house. I watched that well being drilled by a man with a pounding machine. It replaced an old hand dug, brick lined polluted well we could no longer use. The drill rig eventually pounded the big drill pipe down about a 100 feet. Lots of gray clay flooded out and down the driveway as it began to break through. After pouring a concrete ‘well house’ below the ground and installing a new deep well piston pump, We finally  had clean, clear water we could actually drink. No more trips to the community well, filling big glass bottles in wooden crates. :>)

During WWII, grandma and grandpa had their coal furnace in their basement. It needed coal shoveled directly into the firebox every few hours and clinkers needed to be chipped loose and shoveled out with the cinders and ashes. The clinkers and cinders ‘paved’ our long driveway and provided traction in icy winter. They then got a modern ‘Stoker’ to feed the coal. As a stronger kid, I often shoveled the stoker full with coal from the big ‘bin’ in a walled off section of the basement (I still have that same big coal shovel). They eventually got the fuel oil ‘gun type’ conversion installed in that same furnace. Oil that replaced the coal. No more shoveling. Grams and Gramps were pretty old by then and had lost some agility.

For years, Jake the ‘coal man’ had backed up his truck and delivered the coal through the basement window by the birdbath in flower garden. It had little red paper ‘hearts’ scattered throughout the black shiny coal chunks. I kinda liked the fresh smell of coal. The coal furnace also heated some water in the winter, before the big electric water heater was installed after WWII. The furnace had a big bulging iron ball suspended below the steel floor radiator grate. I spent many hours laying on that steel floor grate, after getting frozen and soaked in sledding.

‘Red Heart Coal’ was the best :>) Jake’s last name was ‘Flake’. Interesting name ‘Jake Flake’. He had daughters that turned out very pretty. His coal yard and home, was located near the EJ&E railroad tracks. The coal trains dumped the coal off the siding into his yard and he delivered it with his old truck.

Hockemier (Hokie) on highway 59A, had the local convenience store and Sinclair gas station. He delivered the ‘Fuel Oil’ of the sort we burned in the big brown ‘garbage burner’ that heated our house, until mom could afford to put in the ‘gun type’ furnace, located in the closet. That thing was sooty and smoked. Later she had the floor furnace installed? If I recall, it was located under the house? Or she had a gas conversion put in the other box? Whatever type, it is always nice to actually get a natural gas line past the homestead. Homestead was ‘razed’ in recent years,but the memories remain strong.

Life sure changed didn’t it?.


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