The Ice AgesApr 01, 2021 ● By Bob Warren
In telling about some of the minor inconveniences we felt during the recent “Ice Ages,” we realize that many of you experienced very serious problems. To you, we apologize for seeming to make light of the occasion.
Have you ever been run over by a “rolling blackout?” We have!
Here are some of the thoughts and adventures brought on by the recent “dark days,” the days of snow, sleet, below-freezing temperatures and blackouts we had in February.
To set the stage – My wife and I live in Parkview, a fine independent living facility. Our apartment is on the second floor, and the facility’s dining room is on the ground floor. That is just fine until a power outage renders the elevators useless. If we were still fit, we would use the stairs, but we are both on walkers, which don’t work well on stairs. So, we usually have our meals brought to us. Otherwise, we wait until the power comes back on and rush down to eat. Why the rush? Because the periods of power are sometimes very short, and we don’t want to get caught on a stalled elevator as some have.
Our blessed periods of positive power are often only 30 or 40 minutes. We realize, of course, that is much better than being without power for much longer periods, even days, as some have experienced. However, our “30 minutes of light” allows us time to get really interested in a TV show, only to have it go off right in the most interesting scene. That happened to us when watching The Good Doctor. I’ll never know how it ended. Sob, sob! Oh well, from a good show to a “no show.”
Our typical ice storm day, if there is such a thing, is to wake up without power – can’t make coffee, so I’ll take a shower. The bathroom’s dark, but I get in the shower, hoping to find some leftover warm water in the water heater. There’s very little, so I take a fast shower “by braille,” feeling my way for the soap and trying not to miss any body parts. I dry off in a hurry, and about that time the power comes back on – thank goodness!
Next, I dress and rush to the kitchen to make coffee and fix my oatmeal while the microwave is working. Got it done just before the power went off again, so I ate in the dark and found my way to my recliner, which, by the way, has electric controls. If the footrest is in the extended position, I have to crawl in and wait until the lights come back on to get comfortable. It makes me wish for my old manually operated recliner. Oh well, no morning paper today, so I curl up for a nap.
Beth says she needs to “do a washing,” so she loads the washer and waits for power. Then, when it comes on, it goes back off again about halfway through the cycle, and it’s wait again. The same story with the dryer, so that makes a long “wash day.” All those events make me realize that the old days weren’t so bad after all. Let’s turn the clock back about a hundred years and review some of those “good old days.”
The house I was born in, here in Frisco in 1921, did not have electricity. It was heated with natural gas and lighted with kerosene (coal-oil) lamps. When I was four years old, my parents had a new two- bedroom frame house built. It had electricity, and each room had one light bulb suspended from the ceiling. The light switch was on the wall within my reach and I almost wore the switch out turning it off and on.
The bathroom had no plumbing, so our Saturday night baths (most people bathed only once a week) were in wash tubs brought into the kitchen. Water was heated on the kitchen stove and the last one in the tub bathed in murky water. Phew!
We “lived” in the back part of the house, in my parents’ bedroom and the kitchen. After “supper,” Dad and I retired to the bedroom to sit around the stove and listen to Fibber Magee and Molly or Amos and Andy on the radio, leaving my poor mother to clean the kitchen. No dishwasher, so she washed the dishes in the kitchen sink and put them in a “rack” to dry before joining us in the bedroom.
In the winter, only the back two rooms were heated. I slept in the front bedroom, so at bedtime, they tucked me into my feather-bed mattress with lots of cover, leaving me to sleep warm and comfy.
Our “wash day” was an adventure for me. It was on Monday when Mother and I went to the back yard where there was a big black wash pot and a wash bench under the grape arbor. On the wash bench were three big tubs – one for the first rinse, another for the second rinse and a third for the rinse with “bluing” for the white clothes.
We built a fire under the big wash pot and I stirred the clothes with a broomstick. Then the boiled clothes were transferred to the tubs for rinsing, and from there to be hung on the clothesline to dry. That was almost an all-day job – quite different from the luxury of today’s electric washer and dryer, if the power is on.
Now, I’d better run to my computer to type this story while the power is on.
All this reminiscing makes me wonder: Have we gone from “Global Warming” to “Global Cooling?”
Oh well, for more light, let’s turn to the Bible where we find the creation story in Genesis, chapter 1. Verse 3 says, “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” To that I say, “Amen, thank you, Lord. Bring it on and keep it on.”
Bob Warren is a local historian, former mayor of Frisco and a regular contributor to Frisco STYLE Magazine.