I have sat here and enjoyed the nice warmth of my stoves while watching it snow outside and the many deer eating the food we put out. As the cold winter blows out of the northwest, I begin to wander back to the times of old at the farmhouse in Livermore Falls. In those days we did not have what is called “the necessities of life” such as electricity and running water. I cannot remember ever spending time wishing we had things like normal people. We made use of what we had and glad we had that. We had seen times of little food and very cold rooms in the farmhouse. I have often wondered why I enjoy some things as I do at this age. I then go back to the times of laying on the floor next to the wood stove.  Even though it might be midnight and cold outside, it was time to fill the stove again. The only light was by the fire in the stove. I begin to marvel at the responsibility my parents laid upon me in those young years. I often wonder if a youngster in these days at the age of eight or nine could handle these chores. Would a parent even think of loading them with this responsibility? This was the winter of ’54-’55 and we had plenty of snow and cold. The last half-mile of our road was never plowed. Dad always parked the car at the first house on our road and would walk in when he was done working. On this particular Friday it was time to get the groceries and there was a snowstorm.  Mom and dad had walked out to the car, but left me with the instructions to harness the horses later and come out to meet them to carry the food in.  Not wanting to disappoint my parents I began the process early. I harnessed the horses, hooked them to the sled and away we went. I was quite a bit early and we just stayed there waiting for the car to arrive. The wind was blowing, the snow was swirling around us and I began to get close to frozen. In my haste to be there for them, I did not take into consideration how cold it would be sitting on that sled. I was after all only eight years old going on to nine.  When my teeth would not stop chattering, I headed back to the farm to get warmer clothes. Dad caught me when I was halfway home. It did not take him long to see I was just a big white snowball and took me the rest of the way home. I apologized for not waiting longer for them. He then went back with the horses and sled to get mother and the food. These were tough times and I often wondered why they meant so much to me. It was not that the times were tough, it was the responsibility that was put upon us as kids. As an eight-year old, it was my responsibility to keep the fires going. It was my job to harness those horses and travel in a snowstorm to meet the folks. Even at this age, it is not necessary to get up at one or two in the morning to start the wood stove. Maybe, it is because I am cheap and wood is plenty or maybe it is remembering those times at the farmhouse. Those times of keeping the rest of the family warm during those cold nights. Mom, dad, and all my brothers and sisters could sleep because I was keeping the fires going. That is a special feeling for an eight-year old that money just can not buy.  Everyone that talks to me about those old days of hard times, talk with pride of having to live through those years gone by. We no longer require our youngsters to accept responsibilities such as this at such a young age. In all reality, we are depriving them of that special memory of doing something for the whole family. There is no bragging needed, just the self-pride knowing we did it for the family. Even though, it was a forced responsibility, the memory lasts forever. Of the twelve of us in my family, only five of us remain. I am the youngest male from those twelve, but I hope I am passing on memories and responsibilities to those that are in my life circle. I still do not desire rich and fancy, but peace and warmth are the greatest goals I keep in my hope chest.

Have a most fine day folks

 


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