Monday, December 1, 2014

Childhood Days

I don’t know whether the saying is the same in North America, but back in Norway they could say about an old fart “He’s back in his Childhood Days”.
And it doesn’t mean that someone is turning into a child again after turning a high age. It rather means that people who get older are REMEMBERING their childhood days.
And I think it has to do with the fact that we are, or already have, lost our parents and we are approaching this ripe stage of age where our thoughts are wandering back over decades. It might start out with that we think of all the mistakes we have made, or all the good decisions we made. As we go further back we will approach our childhood and pictures are appearing we never thought would still be part of our memory.

At 62 I have reached that age. And with Christmas coming up there are even more volumes to look at.

Way back, in the fifties our kitchen was still heated with a coal stove. It stood right at the entry door. Besides of the stove there was this coal bucket/funnel. Every day one of us went down 2 stair cases to the dark basement to shovel coals into that bucket, then carry it upstairs. During the day it would be emptied into the stove. My great grandfather didn’t build the house with a central heating system. I guess it would have hardly been available in the twenties. But I do remember the plumbers coming into the house in the sixties to install a central water-based heating system with radiators installed in every room. They brought a lot of steel pipes for the water lines. It meant a whole new world to us. And the old coal stove was carried out of the house and I never saw it again. It was probably sold as scrap iron to a guy who frequented our street with some post-war-built car. He also collected rags of all kind, which we always had plenty of as grandpa ran an upholstery business.

We also had my great-grandma living in our house. Her name was Margarethe. Her husband had founded the business which in her days was run as a saddle maker shop. But times had changed and horses had disappeared from public view. Well, I remember our coals were still arriving by horse-drawn wagon. The coals were stuffed into sacks and the workers carried every sack up our driveway and emptied them over a chute through the basement window. The central heating was still running on coals but was later converted for heating oil, which it is still today.

We lived upstairs and had no bathroom there. As small kids we were bathed every Saturday in a galvanized tub in the middle of the kitchen floor. We hated that! No privacy there! But there was no sense in filing any complaint. Every Sunday morning saw us clean as a whistle.

So where was the “John”? It was the most hated room in our house. It was unheated and 2 stairs down through a cold stairwell. As can easily be imagined it was especially unpleasant on a cold winter morning. There was no prolonged stays in that location. Yet, in those days it was considered a luxury to have it water operated. Before I was born my grandparents had it all outside across the yard. Yep, tough people in those days.

My grand parents were living on the first floor and I loved to go down there and sit with them. Grandpa liked to read a book to grandma and I was listening. When he was finished I pulled out his stamp collections. He had lots of it and got me to start my own collection. I still have his stamps.
Our telephone was one of those black models – the only ones being available. There was no mobile phones and TV was something we first saw during 1962. They were outrageously expensive and only black and white. Once my grandparents had one we kids were hooked. But TV-time started at 5pm with “Kinderstunde” (Kids-hour). And that’s what it was One Hour only! Got that. Now go home to your parents have supper and then off to bed.

That’s how we grew up. We had limits to live after. I still feel those limits when going shopping.


  1. Well, you made my mind wander too. I guess I'm back in my childhood days. I enjoyed reading about your memories of family.

  2. As a child we too bathed in a galvanized tub in front of the wood burning kitchen on Saturday night. My brother was made to stay in the living room. Our bathroom was an outhouse with a chamber pot under our bed for use at night. During the summer it was covered with honeysucke flowers and a lilac bush at the that was going to make it smell better???

    1. Well, Betty great memories. We all have them.

  3. I share many of those same memories. Sure was a different world back then but I am happy to have those memories now oh so many years later.

  4. Yesterday when we had company that is exactly what we did - we reminisced about bathrooms back when we were young. I personally am glad for indoor plumbing, hot water and heat.

  5. Guess we're all in the same age group - or close. I have many of those same memories - including getting a bath only once a week.

  6. Great memories - I was lucky to have a new house when I was born, and it had all the conveniences. Indoor bathroom, gas heat that came up through a wall/floor grate thing - it warmed the living room on one side and the hall to the bedrooms on the other side. We also had the once-a-week bath on Saturday night. That must have been a universal thing. Nice remembering that house where I grew up. :)

  7. Such great memories, we had a phone like that too, but we "kids" were never allowed to use it. We didn't need a phone as kids, we just went to our friends house and knocked on the door and asked if they could come out to play. Then, we would all go to the park and when it got dark, we would come home. I always remember looking at the phone wondering when I could be old enough to use it. We moved to another house before I could, I was 11. But when the phone in the old house rang, it was important to be quiet so the parents could talk on it.


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