The topic for this week's Fun Monday is scars, either kind--physical or emotional. Jill ,our host for this week, asks us to describe scars we may have, how we got them, and what did we learn from the experience. I have a large heart-shaped scar on my right leg and into adulthood extensive scar tissue on my right hand. The scar on my right hand is not so noticeable anymore, only I know it's there. I got both scars in a childhood accident trying to keep warm.
In the 1950s my family lived in several coal mining camps along the C&O railroad in eastern Kentucky. The camps were Big Shoal, Little Shoal and Keiser Hollow, getting their names from the Big Sandy River along which the railroads ran. The camps were built by coal companies and rented to miners who dug the coal from the mines in these hollows. That coal was shipped out of the region to fuel industry in the eastern and northern parts of the US. The houses in the mining camps were sorry affairs by the 1950s. Most were three to four rooms, including the kitchen.
Our houses were heated by open fireplaces in the bedrooms and a cast iron cookstove in the kitchen. Coal from the defunct mines was stored in
coal sheds near the house and served as the main source for heating and cooking, along with some wood to get the fires started. It was so cold in the winter that we were never warm enough. Most families grouped 3-4 straight chairs around the fireplace and once you claimed a spot you didn't want to move because someone else was always ready to take your place. Water for bathing was kept hot in the reservoir of the kitchen cookstove. The warmest place to bathe was behind the cookstove.
So when winter set in, the fireplaces were heaped with coal and kept burning into the night. Another trick that I used to keep warm was to wear one of these chenille robes in the evening. (Sorry for the somewhat hoochie photo, but this one was most like the robes I wore with the big flowers around the bottom of the robe. And this color was quite popular in the '50s.) On cold nights I stood in front of the fireplace as close as possible, warming my front until it got too hot for me to stand and then turning around to bake the other side. One night I accidentally caught my robe on fire. Of course, it has been so many years since this happened. But I do remember trying to run through the house--which I understand is a very typical response (I didn't know the "Stop, drop and roll" drill that all children are now taught). I remember my mother grabbing me and snatching a bedcover off the nearest bed and wrapping me in it to smother the flames. I escaped with only burns on my leg and the very painful one on my right hand. I also remember that the treatment for the burns was to rub them with butter--which we now know better than to do.
What lessons did I learn from this experience? Well, keep a safe distance from the fireplace no matter how tempting. But most importantly as an adult I refuse to freeze in my own house. I keep the thermostat at a comfortable level even if the bill is a bit scary in colder weather. I survived the cold in childhood. Now that I'm grown and paying the heating bill I'm going to have a warm home.
Now go over to Jill's place and check out other Fun Monday participants. Also, I'm hosting the August 24 Fun Monday. Our topic will be "Back to School". As we near the end of August the yellow school buses start rolling through our neighborhoods. With the beginning of school do you start thinking about taking a class or learning something new yourself? What do you want to learn--new technology, photography, yoga, painting, line dancing, writing? The list is endless. Either sign up in the comments for this post or wait until Wednesday when I'll put up a more complete description of the topic. Hope you'll join me and keep Fun Monday going.
- Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.