Daddy built the house that we lived in when we were in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky. I was far too young to remember a lot of the particulars, but some things stood out more than others.
Like the way Mom use to pull her old ringer washer out the kitchen door and into the yard with an extension cord to use it. She would put a metal washtub up in a chair to sit underneath the ringer and fill it with water to rinse the clothes in as they came out of the ringer.
I remember the big upright canisters of propane that we used to run our stove that Mom cooked on. I can’t remember what kind of cook stove it was, just that it ran on gas and sure did a fine job cooking a meal.
I remember exactly where everything sat, and how simple it was compared to my own house. If Mom didn’t need it, she didn’t have it in her house, it was as simple as that. Sometimes certain things did double duty if she needed them to. Like the way her cabinet model Singer sewing machine doubled as a table if we had a lot of company and room ran out at the table. Or the way we had a bed in the living room at one point, that doubled as a couch during the day.
But one of the things I remember the most was the old Stokermatic. A Stokermatic is a lot like a furnace, only it didn’t hook up to vents or duct work or anything like that. It burned small bits of coal and had a blower on it and worked a lot better than the old wood stoves we’d always had. I remember it being fairly large, though that may be because I was so young at the time. And if I remember correctly, the outside of it didn’t get real hot while it was burning. I think safety was one of the things my parents had thought about when they picked it out.
Of course, it was only appropriate that we had one, with Daddy being a miner and all. He could get coal from just about anywhere, anytime, and even borrow a little if we needed it. Coal burns for a long time and warms a house a lot better than any other form of heat. My husband and I had a coal stove not long after we married and I remember that our house would stay warm all day long on just a half a bucket of coal.
It was really loud when it was blowing, but after awhile, it became the sound that lulled me to sleep and kept me cozy and warm enough to stay that way. If I did happen to be awake when it shut off, though, it was as if every other sound in the whole world was magnified. Louder. But then, that was me.
If I had the choice, a Stokermatic would be what my family heats with today. And maybe someday it will be, but I haven’t ever actively looked for one. Things were simpler back then, though. Doubt they’ll ever be simple like that again.