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Now - back to the house itself. The kitchen was the center of activity. It was roomy, extending the width of the house with windows on both east and west sides. Two clear memories of those west windows: they faced straight up the road to Little Oak Lane. I was kneeling on a chair looking up that road on November 11th, 1918 when the news came over the phone that the war was over! The grown-ups were so excited! I could just imagine some dough-boys coming marching over the hill! The other vivid recollection is of how beautiful these windows were on icy mornings filled with feathery plumes and swirls when Jack Frost had embellished them.

As mentioned, these windows looked out onto the porch with a fairly deep well of icy-cold water- cold enough to serve as refrigeration in those days before electricity. It had a hand pump, and a wooden cage perhaps four feet square, that was raised and lowered with a crank. The cage had sides of wire fencing to prevent the food’s falling over-board, and a deep sill to contain spills. The roof kept kids and other debris from falling onto the food from above.

In winter that kitchen was cozy-warm and filled with activity from well before sun-up until long after dark. The south wall of the kitchen had a big, black iron coal stove with an attached tank to provide hot water. To the left, under the east windows was a long sink, drain board and hand pump. On the right in the corner was a small sink, with traditional roller towel, for washing hands, faces and hair (very painfully when done by my mother). A large table in the center of the room served for some meals but most were eaten in the dining room. There were always several hired-hands in addition to the family so there would have been too much of a crowd for the kitchen workers to function.

So food was taken to the dining room where there was a long table. Now on that side of the kitchen was a walk-in pantry at the right (east) and an enclosed entry on the left with a passage-way between. The pantry had a panel that could be slid up for food to be passed through to the dining room. I think that was used mostly for bread, jelly and other items kept there. The rest was carried through the passageway which had swinging doors. I remember as an infant how I loved being in a little canvas swing at the kitchen edge of this passage. It was so entertaining to swing myself and also to observe all the activity.

When I think of the pantry, Uncle Ollie comes to mind also. He was an inveterate tease and enjoyed nothing so much as "getting someone’s goat". The pantry, having only one small window onto the porch was quite dark, so once when he detected a dish of blackberry jam he ate the whole thing. Out he came with a big grin and announced, "Say! That was mighty good blackberry preserves you had in there!" When the answer came, "Oh, that wasn’t preserves. That was jelly- we left it there to trap ants!" his grin disappeared and he turned a little green. But it wasn’t often that he came out second best.

Between the passageway and pantry was a wall telephone - a 12-party line which was the only kind available in the country. With the crank at the side you could ring anyone on your line: a long and three short, two long and four short or whatever. For all others, one ring brought the operator who rang your party for you. Numbers were simpler then, I remember even many years later, in the 1940’s that Eckert’s Market was one-five and Bridges and Ward Drug Store was one-three. By then we had a 4-party line - our number was 2048-W and Auntie’s (Laura) was 863-R.

The entry way I mentioned served as a barrier to the cold and also as a place to shed coats and muddy boots. It must have been about 5 feet square with rows of coat hooks, a built-in bench at the back so you could sit to put on or remove boots, and a door at each side leading to the kitchen and to the dining room. The dining room had a fireplace, as did the parlor and at least one of the bedrooms. I don't ever remember a fire though; it's possible they didn't work too well. There were enough windows to make it a nice light room and the corner window especially gave a good view of the yard. Best of all was that all the windows in the house came down low enough for little kids to see out easily.

Off the dining room was the front hall, the front door that was seldom used, and the stairway with a dandy rail for sliding when no one was around. Near the top was a landing and the rail turned giving a long swoop that got up a good speed ‘til the newel post ended it abruptly. I did love that stair - but under it was a small, dark closet that I hated fiercely. That was where I was dragged, screaming, and locked in, terrified that I never would get out. I really never did know what it was that I had done that was so bad, or maybe that closet just erased the memory. Buddy (my brother, three years younger) would always comfort me through the door and sometimes even let me out, although then he would be in big trouble.

A door at the end of the hall led to the back porch and at the front were doors to the dining room, the small front porch, and the parlor which might as well have been deleted, it was so seldom entered. It had a horse-hair covered sofa, a few uncomfortable chairs and a mahogany library table, the kind with a shelf underneath between two pedestal legs. It was the kind of room where silence seemed obligatory and not even the air dared stir.

At the top of the stairway was the master bedroom - above the dining room and the same size, including the corner windows. The banister continued around the open stairway, past the bath room to two smaller bedrooms. The bath was small, directly over the front hall but it had a tub with feet. There was no running water that I recall. One of the small bedrooms was a spare, the other used by a succession of hired girls.

And some of those were real doozies. Minnie Ohlendorph , for instance wore her hair like Pop-eyes’ girl-friend, Olive Oyle, with a big, horizontal puff over each ear. It took a lot to make her smile and when she did it went as fast as switching a light on-off.

Somewhere near there, was a door to the porch leading to the tower entrance and to the hired hands rooms above the shop. A stair was at each end of this long porch. There was a row of fancy-shaped dowel rods about a foot high running all along the top edge with ginger-bread decoration at the posts, and the banisters were of turned wood. On the lower porch just out the kitchen door was the walnut wood-box which held firewood for the kitchen stove. It was painted gray to match the porch floor and one of the first improvements Howard tackled after we married was to strip and refinish it. Now it stores blankets in my bedroom.

From this upper hall I think another door led onto the L-shaped porch and there was one more bedroom, Uncle Ollie’s. It was fairly large and was next to my parents master bedroom, just to the left of the stairway. For some reason it was a step lower than the others. Somewhere near there, was another door to the porch leading to the tower entrance and to the hired hands rooms above the shop. A stair was at each end of this long porch. There was ginger-bread decoration at the posts and the banisters were of turned wood. On the lower porch, handily located just outside the kitchen door was a walnut wood-box painted gray to match the floor. One of the first improvements Howard tackled was to strip and refinish it so now it holds blankets in my bedroom.

One more place that might be of interest -- the cellar. I guess it was really a storm cellar as it was entered from outside the west kitchen door by lifting a heavy sloping door. It was cool and dark down there, fine for keeping potatoes, apples and whatever fresh vegetables possible. There were shelves too, for lots of canned fruit and vegetables that had been produced in the garden, and always a 5-gallon crock of eggs that kept just fine through the winter when hens were on strike. The eggs were put down in waterglass which has a jelly-like consistency and is translucent, or in layers of salt.

A tall windmill stood just a few feet from the west porch, right out the kitchen window. It had two wonderful features - a wooden platform that I judge to have been about twenty feet up and extending to the framework of the windmill on all sides, and a thick, full, purple wisteria that twined all the way up to the arms. When it bloomed it was so beautiful and fragrant and enclosed a lovely, secluded spot for scanning the distant fields or just day dreaming. That is, until my mother spied me and ran out screaming for me to come right down - I would surely fall and be killed!


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