The View From My Porch by Pejj Nunes
Winter, wintertime, from the age of 5 into my high school years meant the upstairs floors were ice cold in the mornings until the wood stoves below het the floors up. Some of the warmth came from the sun via the big Dorma windows. This would peak about10:30, 11:00 in the upper bedrooms.
I loved those Dorma windows not just for the sun, but for the moonlight that filled the room. I loved the moonlight because of its l right and from my bed, I could look down upon the world outside. I could even read! I would stay awake and think. I would envy my bother because of his bedroom. Like my parent’s room, it had three large windows.
My mother would let me go up to their bedroom during the day when my father was not there. Thank god for her insights.
I have no idea why my father had this need to control as he did.
I was not a sneaky child, nor one to get into things. He however would come into my room and take my pencils. And other things at times. I would find them later in his dish on piano. I would only learn where the missing pencils went when I found the ones with my high school’s name on them. They were maroon and not the traditional yellow pencil. I started hiding things under my bottom draw on the floor. I came to mistrust my father, and dislike this about him. I confronted my mother about this, and she had said it was likely because as a kid he did not have pencils____. I thought well, I do not have a lot of pencils and I need them for school work!
My mother said I reminded my father of his younger sister Ruth. I apparently reminder her as well____Ruth she said had taken his mother’s attention from him when she came along. I would get called Ruth at times by him, so this made sense. Mom said Dad was jealous of his younger sister. She, it was said got away with bloody murder as a kid, the last baby, and spoiled. I saw an outgoing woman when I met her. Bubbly and fun. In time I would learn her husband was not the man he appeared to be, he was difficult to live with. Transference then?
It was my parent’s behaviors that led me into wondering why people do the behaviors they do; as individuals, and couples, groups, and whole societies. What I gleaned from teachers such as one history teacher who talked about human behavior as well. I would pick up Psychology today to read when in high school. Once I learned about psychology I latched onto it. Later, I would learn of art therapy and that was exciting! This interest was not the norm for other teens I think.
Thus began my lifelong interest in psychology, behavioral sciences, and logic and philospophy___
Why Philosophy? My father’s family was full of philosophical storytellers. You could ask questions, but would end up listening to a whole story; perhaps ending up with an answer. It was a bit like living with Mark Twain. Grampy Moulton was like that, _____Uncle George, Uncle Lew (Lewellyn), Uncle Clarence, Uncle Bob (Aubrey). Then the Aunts, Aunt Gladys, Aunt Mrytle, and Ruth too.
I learned about philosophy ins school as we learned history. Learning of them I had to learn as much as I could. I fell in love with encyclopedias after that.
I will have to find a place in my story to tell some of my favorite stories gleaned from my grandfather.
Life was hard, but it was rich too. The richness found within people, who did not see themselves as being special in any particular way. For others, and me___this same richness came through, Yet, he was this other way as well and that person hurt me. People are complex and multifaceted. I always feel grateful for learning how to look more deeply at who people are and to trust in myself. We are who we are due to what we experience and what we come to believe as the truest reality. Children have no choice until they become adults to live as they will. It took a long time to understand my own experiences.
Back to my Childhood.
When younger, my parent had a twin bed for me in their bedroom for the warmth during the winter. It gave comfort to my mother too, to keep an eye on my seizures. The seizures were controlled by medication, but as most mothers, she did not fully trust in it. Seizures in small children are unnerving. They would stop as I moved into my early 20’s. The nerve had finally repaired itself, and I became a statistic like the rest of the world. Being told like anyone else I might have a seizure at any time. But likely not. Much to my relief! You could not drive a car without permission from a doctor. And it depended on the control your medicine gave you.
The sun warmed the bedrooms on the front of the house nicely! Over time this warmth filtered back through the long slice of missing wall by the chimney warming the bedroom of my teenage years. This room had a slanted wall, and low window, a door that accessed the large overhead chamber. This side of the house was the same as the other side of the house. A second small room then, the large overhead chamber was across from mine. This had been wallpapered, where the one on my side was rafters. Its light source a window at the end. There was a room-sized landing with low windows on a lanted wall. The structure of the house had three sections. Two forward sections, attached to the midsection. The midsection was built in such a way it created slanted walls; the two rooms and the landing at the top of the stairs. Where you entered the house you faced the stairs and a small hallway into the back of the house, a door to the left and right that when to two separate front parlors. Prior to the new chimney being built, it had been the 15 X 15-inch squares in the floor that brought heat up into the two front rooms above the parlors below. These were above the fireplaces situated in the middle of the front parlors. My brother had the other big bedroom. Mine was smaller and dark with the small, low window near the floor. I imagined this was something like Cinderella had as a kid.
The original chimneys needed replacement. And so they were taken out and repositioned. This was the reason the wall had been altered. Eventually, it was restored.
Once the warmth seeped into the bedrooms; heat rises, and this was the principle behind square holes or grating in old houses___ The way the house was made meant the rooms were warmer than the main entryway and hallway/stairs to the second floor. Later this was solved with a furnace and registers. Not the case when living there. Later on in life, I would learn that this was how it was in old New England houses. Those in the country had to be modified once electricity was available to them on main roads. The upper floors were not done in our home, just the downstairs. Perhaps the owners used other means in their bedrooms like kerosene lamps.
My early life meant trips to the outhouse and having a commode outside my parent’s bedroom door out of sight from someone entering the house for nighttime use. I came to realize this was the country life my parents had lived. My father’s family had been a large family, his father a farmer, and woodsmen. His oldest sister took care of the children, the mother cooked, the father cut wood, and worked on local farms as well as his own. The farmhouse was a typical three-section affair.
All water was lugged from the hand dug well out back by 10-quart water pails twice a day. You did not waste it. You kept the cover on the well. It was clear and clean and was wonderful to drink. There was a chain you attached your bucket to. In high school, a pump was put in out front, and eventually, water was brought into the house, and a bathroom was made. No more did it require the heating up and lugging water in a big pitcher to pour into a ceramic washbowl in the bedroom every Saturday.
Our home had been a farm at one point, then the home of a doctor. The old wallpapers were stunning blue at one point in one of the small bedrooms. These became revealed as my mother redid rooms. The prior owners had also worked on the house. They were an older couple. And it had been a second home.
To use the upstairs commode and having privacy meant it was out of sight by my parent’s bedroom door in the hall. The was a short walkway to their room that ended with a closet. It meant getting thoroughly chilled on winter mornings and quickly dressing to go down or on a weekend you might be able to hop back under the covers.
Blankets laid thick over sheets that smelled good from being hung on the line. I will add doing laundry in the wintertime sucked! It went on the lines with frozen fingers, only to be taken off with frozen painful fingers, and what went stiff was put on clothes horses to dry in front of a stove____why not do this first?
Saturday was the day for doing laundry. This meant pulling out the wringer washing machine, the rinse tub, and filling all three canning canners. Two canners of well water were put on the three-burner kerosene stove. And one canner put on the biggest gas burner on the cookstove. Another pot would be put on the woodstove for other things like washing up or doing a small bunch of dishes.
When I was 8 1/2 I would pop open my blouse when taking them off, and therefore pop buttons. This inspired my mother to give me a needle and thread, and I was told to sew on my own buttons. I did. Not perfectly at first. A bit later I was given access to the treadmill sewing machine. The first project given me by my mother was a crazy quilt blanket. I was to iron the seams back as well as add to the quilt. By the time junior high came round I was sewing mini skirts. I however flunked home ec in high school. I could sew and cook by then. I was excited to learn more from my teacher, but I feel the teacher disliked me for some reason. My guess was because I came to her knowing how to do these skills. I felt she was responsible for teaching me what I did not know.