Like everyone else in Paulding we burned wood for cooking and heating and had oil lamps for light indoors and oil lanterns for outdoor chores after dark. By oil I mean kerosene, called coal oil then as it was made from coal rather than from petroleum, tho the latter was beginning to be exploited, especially in Pennsylvania. The usual type of lamp was a glass reservoir for the oil with a handle on it so it could be carried to any spot where light was wanted, surrounded with a brass wick holder with a screw at one side for raising and lowering the wick to give the desired amount of light, and a glass chimney above that. The chimney kept air currents from causing the light to flicker. It had to be removed from the lamp to light the wick. If you turned the wick up too high to try to get more light the lamp would smoke up the interior of the chimney. Washing the lamp chimneys and trimming the lamp wicks with scissors was a regular part of a housewife's chores. Coal oil, lamp wicks and lamp chimneys were sold in grocery stores.
For heating the house and water for baths, which were taken in one of the wooden wash tubs, and doing the cooking we used wood, like everyone else in town. Our wood was brought to the back yard in eight to ten foot lengths where an old man - Old Man Douglas, we called him - sawed it into stove lengths and stacked it in the woodshed behind the house, a big unpainted building with a dirt floor and only a couple of small windows so it was dark and spooky. It was full of cobwebs and there were probably rats and mice living in the woodpiles. I was a little afraid to enter the place by myself. The kitchen range heated the kitchen and laundry rooms and the dining and sitting rooms had an oval shaped sheet metal stove with a cast iron top. There was no way to heat the parlor at the front of the house except to open the door into the sitting room and it was usually kept closed in the winter time, as were all of the bedrooms. My parents bedroom was next to the parlor at the front of the house and there were two bedrooms upstairs, one of which Raymond and I occupied, the other Grandma and Aunt Irene, and later my sister Evalyn. For sleeping everybody wore long nightgowns, of cotton in summer and flannel in winter. The British found the natives in India wearing a two piece cotton suit which they called pyjamas. It wasn't until the 1920ies that it became the fashion in America to sleep in them.
Last modified on 21 June 2009 @ 13:02