Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

February 8, 2014

RAY DAY: Revealing a family secret


Kokomo Tribune

---- — Well, the weath-er has not gotten much better. So, as this old man sits here trying to come up with another word for readers, I find my memory is just as good ever.

Let’s go on an old-time report of my days as a young man.

My folks, bless their hearts, were very good parents, and I came out pretty good compared to a lot of young people today. I used the teaching I got as a youngster, and I brought it with me into my years as a young man and now into my years as a senior person.

Back then, when you were in a large family, there were things you needed to do as a member of that family.

The females in our family had to learn how to keep house and cook the food, along with being there in case one of us boys got sick and they had to dig in and help out there. We boys had many jobs to do, and we did them without being told to do them.

We mowed the lawn, fed the chickens and a lot of small duties that people do to maintain a home. In the winter, we brought in coal to heat with and to cook with, along with chopping up wood to stoke the stoves both in the kitchen and the living room.

There were no furnaces back then, so the heat was sort of left in one part of the house, and that made it cool in other parts. We would cuddle close to the heating stove long enough to change into our bedtime clothes, and then hurry up the stairs to our rooms and pull those covers up around our chins and try to go asleep while we were still warm enough to enjoy it.

The girls slept downstairs, so they had a better chance to keep warm. We boys slept upstairs, where the only heat was from the vent in the floor. There were some mornings when we would wake up with ice layers on our covers.

Thank goodness Dad had bought those Army blankets.

The windows would be iced over, and when we got out of bed, it was our duty to go downstairs and build up the fires both in the living room and the kitchen. We used wood on the bottom layer, corncobs on the next layer and coal as the top layer. We stoked the fires until they were going good, and then we changed into our school clothes.

Mom would be up and she would start the cooking of our breakfast. The girls in the family would get up and, after getting warmed up, they would help Mom finish getting breakfast ready.

You might not think so, but we boys were not the only ones to wear long underwear. Sometimes the girls wore them too. When it is cold out, you dress for the weather.

If you think long-legged underwear was for boys and men only, get a better look on life, my friends.

Since I gave out a family secret, I should go a little farther and let everyone know we grew up with the idea to be prepared for all happenings. You don’t wait for Mom or Dad to tell you to do something. You knew it had to be done, so you got with the program. Many times that left you with some play time. Staying ahead of the game, you might say.

Ray “Uncle Ray” Day is a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at uncleray@earthlink.net.