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For the past couple of weeks, my husband and I have been moving from our roomy apartment to a small but lovely duplex.  For the first few days, I found myself repeatedly looking for what we needed to keep up our routines, because moving in our eighties is not easy, and we did not enjoy it.  However, I think we are adjusted, and we can begin to live in the duplex.

Moving from one house to another seems to be my lot in life.  When I count up all the houses that I have moved into and lived in for a few years or more, it adds up to fifteen times.  But the very first move was when I was in the fourth grade and my family and I moved from our little camp-like house to a new home that my dad built for my mother.  It had a bathroom with a flush toilet and a room just for me.   I believe my mom was simply tired of heating water on the stove and along with the outhouse and galvanized tub that she had to pull into the kitchen for baths, she wanted something much better.

Thus, it was a snowy day in November when my father had gone deer-hunting in the Adirondack woods and wouldn’t be home for two weeks, that mom and my oldest sister made the decision to move us.  The new house was generally furnished as dad had found an ad in the newspaper for slightly used furniture and had purchased all of it for the living room, the kitchen and the bedrooms.  My mom, only slightly disappointed, knew that dad would never agree to shop for brand new furniture, so she acquiesced to his choices.  However, the house while mostly ready, did not have any heat, but it did have a wood burning kitchen stove, and two beautiful working fireplaces.  The only catch was that had dad been home, he would never have approved of our moving in the dead of winter.

How to move what little we needed to take from the old house to the new was the next question.  We did not have a pick-up truck and the automobile we owned had gone with dad to the hunting camp.  We did have, however, two toboggans and three sleds; perfect vehicles for moving on frozen, snow-covered ground.  With my mom supervising, my sister, younger brother and I began piling bed clothes, towels and dishes into clothes baskets, boxes and anything else we could find to hold the necessities mom decided we would need.  Then together we pulled our moving “vans” across the meadow to the new house.  Fortunately, it was a short trip, and very soon we were busy making up beds and putting away the towels, dishes and miscellaneous items that we needed to begin living in my mother’s dream home.

The very first thing mom did was to build a fire in the wood burning side box of the electric stove.  The Monarch stove was old fashioned, but dad loved it because it served a dual purpose, the wood burning side for heating up the kitchen and an electric side for cooking.  It is interesting to me now that there was wood chopped up and ready for that stove, but there were also larger pieces cut for the fireplaces.  I think my father may have gotten a deal on fire-wood and took advantage of the sale to have it ready for our new place.

My sister started a fire in the fireplace in the living room and while that along with the kitchen stove made the first-floor cozy and livable, the upstairs bedrooms were freezing.  The frost on the windows was so thick that we could not see the world outside, but there was no question that the temperature was below zero.  Still my mom said we could bundle up in our flannel pajamas and hurry under the covers, and we would be okay in our beds.  That evening, she warmed a fry- pan in the oven and ran in around in our beds to heat up the bedding.

“This is just like the pioneer days,” was her explanation.

In the morning, we tumbled out of our beds and ran to the kitchen where mom had our clothes laid out on the back of chairs warmed from the kitchen stove.  There was no time for modesty as we jumped out of our pajamas and into our delightfully warm clothing.

So, we were moved in and when my dad came home from hunting with a supply of winter meat, what could he do?  He grumbled some but finally had to laugh and praise my mom for her ingenuity.   Within a week, he had the second fireplace stoked up in the basement and the pot-bellied stove heating our water.  I remember it as a joyous time because despite the inconvenience of the cold bedrooms, we could take a warm bath just by turning on the spigot in the bathroom and filling the tub with hot water.

In June that year as a rainy summer came in and stayed, dad had the new coal- boiler installed, and we were ready for the next winter.  As I think back over that first move, I realize that my dad might have put off moving for as long as he could.  Like my husband and me now, he did not want his routines disturbed.  Still our recent move, has made us glad that we weathered the changes, and we are once again settled in and are puttering around.    My mom would be proud of us.


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About the Contributor
Maryann Nunnally
Maryann Nunnally, Contributing Writer
Maryann Nunnally is a retired high school principal and professional comedienne. She writes the regular column Laughing through the Golden Years for Cape Fear Voices.

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