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Carol Perkins: Bracing for Bad Weather

Previous Column: Christmas Gatherings

By Carol Perkins

The weather can be a source of conversation. When voices drift to silence, someone can bring up a weather prediction and a new conversation begins. It soon moves to "I remember when."

Listening to stories about winters in the past is interesting. People in their 90s with whom I have spoken have shared unbelievable stories. Several have talked about snow coming through the roof in an upstairs room and having to sweep it across the floor with the powder seeping down to the rooms below. They tell of water freezing in a dishpan, and someone having to get up during the night to keep the fire going.

If a house had a fireplace in every room, which was rare, someone had to feed the fire and make sure the house didn't go up in smoke. If there was a wood stove in every room, which was rare, someone also had to put more wood in it. Most had a wood stove only in the main room and beyond that, so I've heard, were cold bedrooms with quilts piled high. Quilting was a necessity back then, and not necessarily a hobby. Little kids often snuggled in one bed to keep warm, hoping no one would have an accident in the bed. In the mornings, stepping onto a cold floor was dreadful, but dashing outside to the toilet was even worse.

The wood cooking stove would be fired up and mamas would cook breakfast long before the kids got up. Homemade biscuits and ham weren't a treat; they were staples. With fire in their bellies, youngsters finished their chores before walking to school. When they arrived, the teacher or a local person (trustee) had made a fire so the room would be warm. Long handle underwear was also a necessity, as were rubber boots to knock down drifts along the way.

For those who don't live in a warm house or don't have enough wood to last through the cold spell, these freezing temperatures we face can become emergency situations. Many local organizations and churches open their doors to help. The rest of us should keep our neighbors in mind and make sure those living alone have what they need.

We can all tell tales about the biggest snow we've ever seen and the coldest temperatures. I would love to hear all of them.

You can contact Carol at

This story was posted on 2022-12-23 08:44:35
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