Sunday, June 8, 2014

Use It Up...Wear It Out

 This is the house where I grew up, just inside the city line of Baltimore, MD.
Lovely old place with 5 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms with claw foot tubs. 
The kitchen had a wonderful pantry, which had at one time been a back stairway.
The basement was a scary place at night
as you had to go down the stairs in the dark and reach for a string at the bottom,
and pull it to turn on a light. Right in the middle of the basement was a
large, round furnace that had once been fueled by coal,
but had been converted to gas before my
parents purchased the house in the early 1950's. 


 And in the dining room was a large register cover, over top of that old furnace,
which was the only place where heat came into the house. 
There was a smaller register in the ceiling, above the one in dining room,
which allowed heat to get to the second floor. 
Yes, it was cold in those upstairs bedrooms and one used the bathroom on
the upper floor very quickly on those very cold days.

 This smiley faced child is me, in the dining room, on my 3rd birthday.  To the right of the table is where the grate was in the floor.  My brother, sister and I would get out of bed on cold, winter mornings and run to stand on the register to keep warm.  We also found that if we had been playing in the snow and hats and mittens got wet, we could toss the on the grate and they would sizzle when they hit the hot metal.

 Our dalmatian, Penny, would lay on it, as hot as it was, and would always have to be
rescued when the name tag on her collar would get stuck in the grate. 

Years later, after I was married and out of the house,
my parents had a new heating system put in...and every room actually had heat.
The old grate was taken out and wood flooring installed to fill in the hole in the floor.
My Father attached the register cover to an old Singer sewing machine base
and made a table out of it. 
When they moved to Ocean Pines, near Ocean City they took the table with them.
When my Mom moved back to Baltimore, after my Dad passed,
she brought it back with her. Last summer, she moved into a smaller apartment
and didn't have room for this unique now sits on my patio.


Lou thinks we should clean off the rust and spray it black....
I think we should leave it as is.  No matter what we decide, every time 
I stroll pass it on the way to the shop, I see a little bit of my childhood.


  1. What a charming keepsake from your family home!

  2. Wonderful memories of childhood and beyond - love the grate, wouldn't change it for anything!

  3. What a wonderful story! And a unique keepsake to remind you of those days.

    My hubby and I both grew up in Baltimore county. (Dundalk) His parents' house had a large heat register in the floor, too, but it wasn't as friendly. More than one kiddie got minor burns from falling on it.