By John R. Greenwood
Winter has always been a nostalgic season for me. I guess with the tradition of families gathering for Christmas celebrations it probably is that way for many people. I tend to think it has more to do with how close to the surface our emotions are when temperatures drop. The 1960's created many memories that are deeply ingrained in my mind. Growing up in two homes where the bedroom's only heat came from a 16" square register in the floor will insure that the cold is a primary actor in those recollections. From ages one to nine our home was heated with a kerosene stove about the size of one of those large console tv's of the 70's and 80's. My father would have to get up once in the middle of the night to fill the round cylindrical tank that attached in the back. He would have to go out into the back shed where a larger tank was and with a few turns of the cold metal handle top off the portable one. My room was as far away from the heat source as you could get in that house. My bed was heaped with quilts of all designs and thicknesses. I can recall frozen linoleum floors and cotton slippers, ice caked windows and creaking walls, but I can not recall ever being cold.
The next house we lived in consumed the years between ten and eighteen. My room was again upstairs but this one had an upgrade to the heating system. It was a real furnace that only broke down on occasion. The only heat in my room was provided by another register. Cold linoleum, uninsulated walls, and thin single pane windows were great emphasizers of frigid temperatures but this time I had modern technology on my team. Sunbeams greatest invention of all time the electric blanket was my new best friend in the winter. I would run up stairs during commercials and turn it on so that when my show was over and it was time for bed I could jump under the preheated covers. Mornings tested you. It was a challenge to get out of bed when it could be so cold your breath looked like a little chimney coming from a crack between the blanket and the pillow. One morning as I jumped into my slippers to make a dash for the stairs a mouse jumped out from one of them. He was doing the same as I was only I don't think he had to catch a bus. What strikes me as funny is, other than the normal childhood illnesses I very seldom missed any school. I don't remember having many colds or ear aches. I would not want to go back to those days but it is funny how we survived intact knowing the luxuries we enjoy today. There were many I'm sure that would have considered the conditions I grew up as luxurious. I loved the winter. I enjoyed skiing, sledding and major snow-fort building, so when the temperatures dip and the snow begins to pile up I don't long for the good old days too much but I am thankful for having experienced a wide range of what the winter has to offer. I have come to appreciate the warmth and efficiency of a natural gas furnace and a digital thermostat. This morning as I listen to the wind howling, knowing that the wind chills are lower than ugly, I long for the times when the mouse and I didn't know any better.