Cold weather at the farm

My parents moved from town to the farm in 1953 or 1954, I’m not exactly sure which year. I have a vivid memory of being at the town home in 1953. I also remember being at the farm when my sister was married in 1954. So we moved sometime between those events.

The house on the farm has a combination of two buildings resulting in a two bedroom house with a pyramidal roof. The ceiling of the front bedroom and living room was two feet below the ceiling level of the rear bedroom and the kitchen/dining room.

That first year, we had no indoor plumbing. Water came from a hand-pump and a cistern under the rear porch filled by rain water. If the cistern ran low, Dad would pump water from a second cistern about thirty yards from the house.

The sanitary facilities were more crude. In warmer weather, we used an out-house some forty feet from the house. In cold weather, there was an enameled chamber-pot on the back porch only somewhat warmer than the out-house. Oh, man, was it cold! I still get the shivers thinking of it.

There were some advantages to that cold porch. We didn’t have a freezer until Grandma joined us a few years later. When cold weather arrived, Mom used the porch as a refrigerator. At one point, our refrigerator kept blowing fuses, so Mom unplugged it and we just used the back porch. We waited until warmer weather before a friend of Dad’s, who was a jack-leg electrician, replaced the electrical panel.

One of my more vivid memories was a meal Mom made. She was cooking on a coal stove that doubled as our central heat. She was fixing fried round steaks, roasted potatoes, some navy beans and bread & butter. After setting the table, she went out to the porch and poured glasses of really cold milk for all of us. The milk was so cold that little ice slivers floated on the surface and the glasses would start to frost over. Ice cold milk! Delicious!

I love those memories. I’m glad I don’t have to live under those conditions now. Hardships make strong memories, but we didn’t think of them as hardships at the time.