Monday, August 15, 2011

Chapter 3

The House of Your Growing Up

I do not remember living in a house as a child other than in Norlina. I lived there as an infant. When I went to college and was going home that was home. After I was married and had children and was going home that is where I went. My parents owned that house when I was a small child and Mama still owned that house when she died in 1998.

The lot for that house was about 100 feet by about 150 feet. The houses on that street were built near the property line rather than in the center of the lot. This meant that we had a large yard on one side of the house and very little space on the other side.

The house is a wood frame that has asbestos siding. The siding is white.

When standing outside in front of the house the porch runs the entire length across the front of the house. When standing in front of the house the right side porch covers the entire depth of the house. This is a covered porch and is about 7feet wide. The back porch ran from the side porch about 3/4 of the way across the back of the house. The back porch is screened in and about 7 feet wide.

The northeast corner of the lot has 3 small buildings, a one-car garage, a wood and coal shed, and a Johnny house. The Johnny house was behind the wood/coal shed.

Daddy had a floor put in the garage and it was used for storage. Daddy didn’t throw much away. During my teenage years I remember him telling me, “if you have something you don’t need put in the garage and keep it for seven years, if you don’t need it then go turn it over and keep it for seven more years”.

When I was young we did not have an indoor toilet so the Johnny house was used and the Sears and Roebuck catalog was the chosen toilet paper. 

The bathroom had a bathtub but no shower when I was young. An indoor toilet was installed but I do not remember the year

The house had an oil stove in the living room and dining room to provide heat. There was a wood/coal stove in the kitchen. The bedrooms were not heated so we used extra covers in the wintertime. The house was not air conditioned until probably in the late 1950’s, When Mama bought a window air conditioner. Several years prior to buying the air conditioner a window fan was put in the dining room window and by raising the windows in other parts of the house air was circulated for cooling.

The house had 2 bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, a kitchen and a bathroom.
One entered the house from the front door into a hall that was about 7 feet wide and about 12 feet long. Mama and Daddy bedroom was to the right of this hall and the living room to the left. The dining room and the kitchen were on the left side of the house. There was a hall from the dining room to the second bedroom, John’s and my bedroom. On the right of this hall was a closet on the left was the bathroom.

When one went out the back door from the kitchen they were on the back porch. The pantry was of the back porch but joined the kitchen.

When the house had two bedrooms John and I shared the room. There were two beds in the room, a double bed and a single bed. When John was home I had the single bed, when John went to college I had the double bed. From my bedroom window it was only about 15 feet to the side of my neighbors house.

Daddy and Mama did some remodeling in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s. I do not know if the remodeling was done at one time or over a period of years. They had the wall tore down in the front hall. This made the living room bigger and one entered the house from he front door into the living room. Expanding the roof and enclosing part of the back porch added a third bedroom. Water was added to the pantry and an automatic clothes washer and dryer were installed.

One of the remodeling jobs was adding a third bedroom. This was done by extending the roof of the house and enclosing part of the back porch. This became my bedroom.

I am not sure of the floor covering in the house but I think Mama and Daddy’s bedroom had hardwood floors, the living room was carpeted and the rest of the had linoleum floors. My bedroom floors were linoleum and they were cold in the winter. The hardwood and carper may have been an added improvement.

Norlina did not have home mail delivery. We went to the Post Office to get the mail. Our address was P.O. Box 14 in Norlina.

I do not remember us having an icebox; I believe we always had a refrigerator. I think I remember the iceman coming to deliver ice and I remember us going to the Norlina ice plant to by ice. This may have been to get ice to make ice cream or some other need.

Mama had a Maytag wringer type clothes washer. She would wash the clothes at the kitchen sink and drain the water down the kitchen sink. After the clothes were rinced and that water drained she would wring the clothes through the wringer to get more water out. The clothes were then hung outside on the clothes line to dry.

The Pine State Milkman delivered our milk. We sat the empty quart milk jars on the porch so he would know how much milk to leave. I remember the Jewel Tea man coming to deliver or sell something. The Jewel Tea man could play the piano by ear. I enjoyed listing to him play.

My Myrick grandparents farmed and they had cows and chickens on the farm. When we went to my Myrick grandparents on Sunday we would get eggs and butter from them. My grandmother Myrick made butter. When I was young we did not buy eggs and butter. I remember the first time Mama bought oleomargarine and how dissatisfied I was with it.

When visitors came to our house they would either walk right in or knock at the door. Sometimes they would knock at the door and still walk right in. We did have a doorbell but it was seldom used. The door was not locked unless no one was home or at night when every one was sleep. When no one was at home and the door was locked, the key was kept on a nail at the upper left corner of the door. I do not recall ever having a key to the house, the door would be unlocked or the key would be on the nail.

The family ate in the kitchen. The dining room was used when we had others in to eat.

My parents had the nicest bedroom suit in the house.

There was music in our house. Mama was a very good piano player. She would play music for me and my friends to sing. We may have had some family sing along. Mama also tought music. She had several people take piano lessons from her in our home. We would listen to the grand ole opry and other music on the radio. I also had a record player that played 33 1/3, 45, 78-rpm records.

The radio was a source of a lot of entertainment. We did not have a TV so we listened to News' ball games, music shows, entertainment shows like Dick Tracy, Sky King, Amos and Andy, etc.
I did have chores around the house like mowing the grass, working in the garden, raking leaves.
The garden was across the street on Mrs. Dalton’s lot. I worked in the garden, planting, chopping, stringing butterbeans, harvesting and whatever Daddy or Mama said do.
I had to mow the grass with a push type manual lawn mower. I remember when power lawn mowers were available and hoping Daddy would buy one. I told him that I would never complain about mowing the lawn again if we had a power mower.

Daddy may have been interested in the news. I recall him listening to Gabriel Heatter on the radio. The radio show was called Heatter Views the News. After we got a TV I believe Daddy mostly watched Walter Cronkite.
We had one telephone in the house and that was on a small table in the dining room near the center of the house. We had a “party line”. I believe there were three families on the line. I think Mrs. Dalton and Mrs. Overby, two neighbors across the street were on the party line with us. If I picked up our receiver and Mrs. Dalton was talking I could listen to her but this was rude so we didn’t do that. If someone else was on the line I just waited until they finished before I made another call. I believe that on the party line we just dialed two numbers to call our other party line user. I just dialed two numbers to call Mrs. Dalton. For any one else on the Norlina exchange we dialed four numbers. I guess to call someone not on the Norlina exchange we either dialed five or seven numbers. Our phone number was 456-2617.

We got two news papers a day, (1) The News and Observer and (2) The Raleigh Times both were published in Raleigh, NC.

I have a lot of good memories and was happy growing up but I would not give up technologies and medical advances to return to that way of life.

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