Our final move in Paulding was from the house on South Cherry street to a large two story house with a basement on South Williams, one block from where the original Courtright house had stood but on the west side of the street, so we were back in our old neighborhood. The house across Williams street to the east was owned by Greeley Barness, son of Gil who owned a good part of Paulding. Greeley's two boys, Mahlon, and Robert were the ages of Raymond and my sister Evalyn and, next to the Neeley boys, were our closest friends. There was a younger son, the age of Bill, but he was too young to form part of our group.
This house, which we called the Johnson house, was the first house we had lived in that had a basement, running water, electric lights and a furnace. With running water we at last had a bathroom with a tub and flush toilet. The privy on the back alley was no more. There were two stairways to the second floor, one at the rear over the stairs to the basement and a front stairway going up from the front porch which we never used. The furnace burned soft coal and was in the basement but there were no pipes to distribute the heat. It was a so-called pipeless furnace and had only one register about four feet square in one corner of the living room, warm air coming up thru the middle and cold going down along the edges to be reheated. It wasn't very efficient.
At the back of the lot, next to the alley was a red barn with stalls for two horses and a haymow above. A ten foot wide sliding door allowed horses and carriage to be brought in. We soon had a car and used the space as a garage, also as a place to play on rainy days.
The basement did not extend under the whole house but there was a room for the furnace and a space for doing the laundry with two laundry tubs. I believe there was also a gas water heater tho it wasn't automatic. It had to be lit with a match every time you needed hot water. In the kitchen my mother still used the teakettle on the old cast-iron range. We ate breakfast on the table in the kitchen but other meals were taken in the dining room between kitchen and living room. At the front of the house, separated from the living (sitting) room was the parlor. It could be closed off from the rest of the house by two sliding wooden doors but very seldom was as the upright piano was there and both Raymond and I enjoyed playing. Most of the girls in Evalyn's class were able to play popular music and the Courtright parlor was a popular gathering place for a large group of kids, both boys and girls, who got together to sing the latest song hits. Having no radios or TV we made our own music the ukulele, the small guitarlike instrument originating, it was said, in Hawaii, was the height of its popularity at the time we lived in the Johnson house and nearly all the youngsters of high school age learned to play the few chords necessary for a harmonic background to the singing.
The first wall switches for electric lights were small cylinders mounted on the wall surface. The light snapped on or off as you turned the small handle on top clockwise. Lampshades were of colored clock bedecked with ribbons, artificial flowers and pendants. The first street lights were not incandescent bulbs, the light was produced by an arc formed by touching two carbon rods together, then drawing them apart by an ingenious mechanism when the current was turned on. The electric current flowing thru the rods vaporized the carbon and made brilliant white light. The mechanism clanked and the lights flickered as the mechanism attempted to keep the ends of the two carbon rods the same distance apart. In the summer there was always a whirling cloud of insects, bugs and moths around the lights while nighthawks, whippoorwills and bats swooped in and out having a feast and small fry below resisted going to bed as long as possible. A workman from the light company came around periodically to put in new carbons, the light being lowered to the ground for the purpose. The carbon stubs made good pencils for writing on the stone sidewalks. There was nearly always a noisy game of some kind going under the streetlight but sometimes we made butterfly nets out of cheesecloth and joined the bats and nighthawks catching moths and bugs. Raymond became an expert entomologist.
Last modified on 21 June 2009 @ 13:02