Warm memories from seasons’ past

Published 10:32 am Tuesday, February 2, 2021

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Our weather has been cold and rainy for some time now. It brings back some very good memories of staying with my grandparents in Old Ford (Mineola) on weekends. They were nice enough to let us live there for three months while our home needed some repair after we had returned from Raleigh. I had never lived in a home that did not have heat but Mom Bert and Daddy Jim heated their house with wood. Many of the neighbors did the same and that was common in the early 1950s. Rose Ann and I never got cold inside and it was very cold outside.  

 Daddy Jim heated his home with wood and a big pot belly stove heater was in the den and that kept us plenty warm. I can remember heating our water up on that stove and taking a “bird bath” before we went to bed. Dad Jim did not have running water throughout the house only in the kitchen. You can imagine what we used for the bathroom! To say he was old school is an understatement but that was the way he was raised on the Mill Road. That pot belly stove had a revolving vent that governed the heat and when opened, it could get really warm. He would always stoke it before he went to bed and later, Mom Bert stoked it before she went to bed because she went to bed later than our grandfather and did not want it to go out. There have been many good naps taken after lunch beside that pot belly stove!

Rose Ann and I slept in what was our uncle Charlie and uncle Clarence’s room before they left to farm on their own. This room was called the “Bull Pen” because it was on the north side of the house and the wind would blow across the field in the winter. It was the coldest room in the house but we had quilts that kept us warm and never a plain blanket.  Mom Bert had plenty of quilts and they kept us warm when the wind started to blow across the fields at night. Ladies back then hand made their quilts at quilting parties in the summer preparing for the winter.  Some of the best sleeping I ever had was sleeping in the Bull Pen covered in quilts!

  Mom Bert cooked in the Piazza with wood and she had small pieces of wood stacked on the side porch by Pie Jones. The piazza was a term that was given to the kitchen because the kitchen was in the back of the house and usually separated from the house. If there was a fire in the piazza, it would not burn the whole house down.  My grandmother took great pride in cooking on the wood stove and made many meals for our whole family on Sundays.  The whole Roberson family ate there for lunch on Sunday and Dad Jim always got his nap after lunch. The cupboard was always in the kitchen area and spare cans of food were stored there. It was kept cold to assure that the can goods would not spoil.  

A big pot of homemade vegetable soup was always good for supper after a day at school.  Mom Bert would get the wood stove plenty hot and put a big pot on about two hours before we had supper.  You could smell it from the back of the house and it teased our taste buds.  She kept them in a wooden ice box within her cupboard so that they never spoiled like the cans. I can remember big ice blocks were delivered to the house in a refrigerated truck from town until Dad Jim bought her a refrigerator. 

You may read this article and think that times were hard but we never went to bed dirty, never hungry and never wore jeans with holes in them.  Life was good and sometimes I think back on those days and have been eager to write about those days.  Please let me tell you that I did not live that way for long nor ever saw my Mom cook on a wood stove. We were lucky to have heat but those days in Old Ford will always stay with me.  The Roberson family was raised on the Mill Road and that is where my heritage started.  My cousin, Riley’s son, Will, has appropriately named it the Deep Roots Farm where his great grandfather was raised and I bet his house was heated by a wood stove!

They were the best of times with the best of friends and in the best of places, Washington, N.C.!  The Original Washington!

Harold Jr.