Drafty Old Farmhouse
My mother’s parents lived in an old farmhouse on what we now call Sandy Point Circle. In the old days it did not have an official name although I am told the old people referred to it as Sandy Springs.
The farmhouse house was built, we believe, in 1860 by Alford Long although the county tax records show 1925. We believe that was the year the new back room and back porch were added as my mother as born in the house in 1924 bringing the total number of kids to four. Later to grow to six. It is still there today.
It is likely the front bedroom, now undetectable after the farmhouse was extensively remodeled, was added at or near the same time. The very small original kitchen became a sewing room at some point and the kitchen moved to the back.
The house had no central heat system, of course. The main heat for the bedrooms came from fireplaces and the wood stove in the kitchen was a major source. Later, the living room area was heated by a wood burning heater. Gas heaters were added in the 50’s and window air conditioning was to come. If you wanted to be warm, get near the heat source. A floor furnace fueled by propane was to come later.
My grandmother would put one of the smoothing irons in front of the fire and get it warm. When she got ready for bed, she would wrap the iron in a towel and put it under the cover at the foot to keep her feet warm.
The farmhouse had old windows with little or no sealing to keep in the heat or out the cold. The fireplaces were allowed to burn down at night for safety. It got cold inside if it was cold outside. I have seen ice on the inside of the windows! Yep, inside!
My father’s parent’s farmhouse was about the same. It had a wood stove and fireplace but they had to wait until the REA came to get electricity. No Delco plant was used there as it was at my mother’s family home. They did have the advantage of being on an ice truck route and could buy some for the icebox once or twice a week when the Heath Ice Company truck from Macon came by. They later moved to a big rambling farm house closer to Macon with huge porches and massive barns and outbuildings. It was all blown away in the early 1950’s by a tornado and fortunately they had moved by then.
The cover on the beds was multiple layers of very heavy quilts. So heavy that once you were in place, you were not likely to move. They kept you warm and you kept everything under the covers including your head. No heat in the room after dark except what could be gained from the coals in the fireplace. Pray you did not need to get up during the night!
Yes, these house were cold, drafty, old and without a lot of frills. But they had something that more than made up for it: a warmth that came in the form of love shown to everyone who walked the drafty rooms and hallways. There was plenty of that to go around and it more than made up for the other things that were in short supply.
My father’s parents left the farming business about 1951 or so and my grandfather became a civil servant with a small garden at his home in Macon.
My mother’s parents got married in 1915 and lived in that old house until they both died there. My grandfather died in 1960 and my grandmother in 1972. That drafty old house was never the same after they passed away. It was just an old and drafty place that had been made warm, cozy and welcoming by their generous supply of affection. A place of fried apple pies, fried chicken and dumplings and ambrosia so sweet it would take your breath away at Christmas. I would love to have a little bowl right now! There was always something under their tree for every grandchild.
I would love to hear Poppa say, “Come here sugar and kiss me bye before you go.” I wouldn’t even be embarrassed by it now!
JC © 2017