Not quite snow drifts yet. Maybe not this time.

I keep thinking back to a childhood memory. The family house had no central heating and just two fires. A fake burning log pile electric fire in the back room and an old cold fire in the living room. I can remember having to help dig a path through the piled up snow to the outside coal bunker. That woke you up in the morning. It also focused the mind. No coal. No fire. No heat in the house as the electric fire used up the coins set aside for the electric meter far too fast.

Looking back I am so in awe of my parents. How on earth did they cope with 5 kids without the help of things we so take for granted now. They didn’t even have a fridge for so many years. They either grew they own food or bought it from the local small estate shops. No supermarkets to fall back on. Both had to work as well. Work hard. No overseas holidays to recharge for them. A holiday for them was catching the train to local seaside tourist towns. Whitby and Scarborough. No overnight stats as well. Jump on the train. Potter about for a couple of hours then grab fish and chips for the train journey back home. That’s one of my other vivid childhood memories. The family jumping back onto the train with our fish supper wrapped up in newspapers. As the train set off we started passing round the bottle of tomato ketchup. Proper ketchup, the stuff you had to shake vigorously before unscrewing the bottle top and copiously spreading a think layer of the red stuff over the chips. Unfortunately someone had forgotten to screw the bottle top back on. My dad started to vigorously shake the ketchup bottle just as the Ticket Collector appeared. The top flew off and dad sprayed the carriage – very very red. I still can’t work out who was more angry. Dad or the Collector. It was definitely a frosty trip home.

Seems like a different world now. As hard as I think my parenting life is these days, it pales compared to those times a few decades back. I so need to remember that the next time I start to complain about how hard my life is. Nothing compared to what my parents had to survive.

It’s a relatively easy life now.

L

41 thoughts on “Easy

  1. As a young boy, I had two chores, and I could not understand why they did not go to my older brothers. One, it was my responsibility to ensure our oil burner was filled with oil for the night, especially in winter. I had to haul 5 gallon tanks of oil into the house from the shed every night, and if I forgot and the oil burner ran out of fuel, my father sent me out in the middle of the night, no shoes, no coat, no gloves, to fill up a can from our 50 gallon barrel, drag it into the house, fill up the tank, and light the burner. He wondered why I hated him.
    Two, we had a wood cook stove, and I was also responsible for keeping that going all night, then getting up in the morning before anyone else to get the stove going so my mother, later my oldest sister after my mother died, could have a hot stove to cook breakfast on. Letting the stove fire go out was a cardinal sin. I was much too young for that kind of responsibility, at least in my tiny brain.
    I think the day he brought an electric stove home I might have had an organ, had I known what one was.
    But I soon learned electric stoves did not help keep the house warm, and the azzhole bought a second oil burner for the kichen, doubling that chore. When I legally ran away from home for good, on my 16th birthday, I rember thinking–I was the last one of the kids to leave–now he can carry his own damn oil in the middle of the night.
    Instead he quickly moved into an apartment, with central heating. Oh how I wanted to burn that building down! But I didn’t want to end up in jail…
    But I did learn to light one helluva good fire that would last for days if I wanted it to. I needed that skill when I was in jail for marijuana, and I was put on forestry clean up detail. I was in charge of burning all the rotting wood that could not be used for better purposes. I showed him!

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  2. I believe they were much stronger for it . In the end Then the younger generation is today.don’t get me wrong life is a bit much right now but yes agree times were much harder for our parents. Love this post and the reminder of that😊

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  3. Probably every generation says the same thing about their parents, although compared to modern times, my parents lived in the Dark Ages. Mum on a farm in Wilts, similar to what you describe though probably a little less cold. Both parents survived WW2 in London. We don’t even know what hard means!

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  4. What a resonant post. In every way. Where we lived too it was like an outpost. Hardly any facilities evena buss ,most days. I often think how did they manage. There were vans came round but even so. I guess it was all just what they were used to you know. And they never thought otherwise, though my mum and dad had come back from HongKong and a good life there . Hell, you were poash on a train. Our hols ..and we were the poash ones , we got on a the council bus to the town and thena bus to some where near at hand, to stay in a room in a council house!!

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      1. Oh ours was a newly built council estate on what we would call the erse of beyond. There were no shops, just a few sheds, some things were sold from and very few buses. No a lot of things actually. Things were added bit by bit. OVER YEARS. But very interesting and a place that set you up for life in a way.

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  5. No central heating, double glazing or fitted carpets when I was growing up until we moved to a new house when I was 12. The window frames were metal too!
    In the winter you’d wake up and the windows were frosted up inside with the Jack Frost fern like patterns. And me and my siblings would plead to be allowed to dress in front of the coal fire my mother had to get up in the cold to light.

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  6. My mom had some rough years, born in 49 though, so she grew up in “golden era”🤷🏼‍♀️ She tells me I’ve had it harder than she did.🤷🏼‍♀️

    I think we ALL just do the best we can with what we’ve got.💌💌💌

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  7. Thanks for the stories. Having grown up in a house with a big oil furnace and all the modern appliances, I can’t fathom not having a refrigerator. I’ve lived with varieties of heat sources, and have had a variety of laundering situations over the years, but there has always been a fridge even when it was a tiny one in college (university). We (especially kids) tend to adjust to whatever our living situation is and its ok to be very grumbly from time to time. After all, when we were growing up, our parents didn’t have to deal with all the changes brought about by a pandemic.

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  8. Very true, or our parents generation growing up… my dad grew up in a poor coal mining town, his dad died from black lung disease. That was a grim life! 😬

    Liked by 1 person

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