Monday, April 2, 2012

Finding a lost posting

I was looking through old posts to see if I had blogged on a certain topic when I ran across this draft from 2010.  It's not as good as finding a $20 bill in a jacket, but I'll go with it anyway.

A friend of mine teaches a class in memoir-writing. She's often prodding me to write more memoirs (as is befitting of a woman of my years) however, I fear there is little that is unique about me. Nevertheless, at her urging, I'll regale you with the story of my first winter in Minnesota after living in California.

I was all of fifteen months old when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. At the time, my father worked at the lumberyard in the tiny town of Louisberg, Minnesota. My mother, the youngest in a large farm family, worked as a waitress at the cafe across the street from the lumberyard. That is where they met and fell in love. Mom was 19 and Dad was a 29-year-old widower. Six weeks after they met, they got married on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, 1939 at the minister's house. I was born a little more than seven months later (a fact I didn't figure out until I was in my teens).

After Pearl Harbor, there was a big need for workers in the aircraft industry on the west coast. They were so desperate they were even hiring women. My dad had not been called up for the service. I'm not sure if it was his age or the fact that he had a family--maybe both. In any case, he decided to move to California and work at Lockheed Aircraft Plant.

We settled in Van Nuys where my three siblings were born in quick succession. After the war ended, Dad built a sturdy two-wheel trailer and loaded it with our possessions. They packed us four kids in the back seat of the car with a potty chair and we headed back to Minnesota.

We arrived in the late fall and it was the first time we kids had ever seen snow. My mom loved to tell of how my brother Bob woke up, looked out the car window and asked, "What is that stuff?" We stayed with relatives until Dad found a job and rented an old farmhouse.

It was a very cold winter when we moved in. The main heat source was a washer-sized space heater in the dining room. The old fireplace in the living room was not working and apparently the furnace wasn't either. Incredibly, the space heater provided almost all the heat for the house. The big upstairs room where we four kids slept was unheated. We would get into our pajamas then run up the icy steps and jump into the cold beds. My two brothers in one and my sister and I in the other. We'd huddle together for warmth shivering while the bed slowly warmed up.

In the morning, we'd race back downstairs to stand by the space heater and get dressed. To this day, I need a cool bedroom to sleep well.

7 comments:

Joanne said...

I grew up in an unheated upstairs. We dressed and undressed in the bathroom, which did have a heater vent. I had to warm the bed up all by myself! I think back on how many pounds of blankets we piled on. Well, it all build character, didn't it. And, I still sleep in a cold room.

^..^Corgidogmama said...

What a cool story you had hidden away in your blogger closet!!
Thanks for finding it and sharing..

Mitchell is Moving said...

What a wonderful and sweet story. I'm glad you took your friends advice and told it. This reminds of Jerry's stories of winter nights in South Dakota. To this day, he, however, needs a space heater!

Linda Starr said...

oh my it must have been cold upstairs, my husband's father talked about walking to the cow barn in winter to get warm in NH, apparently it was warmer there than the house, a move from California would have been a shock to the system.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Brrr. We had heat, but those sheets were pretty cold anyway. After reading Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, I always wanted to put coals in a pan and pre-warm the bed with it. Oddly, my mother said no.

Teresa Evangeline said...

My younger years were also spent in cold winter nights and lots of blankets. I recall seeing our breath one morning in particular when the oil burner went out during the night. I'm glad those days are long gone, but I, too, still prefer a very cool room for sleeping.

I enjoyed reading this well-told story of your childhood.

Daughter Number Three said...

It's a treat to find a post written and forgotten about, especially one as good as this.