SENIOR WOMEN: COAL FURNACES AND RED CHARD

Jan 21st, 2012 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: For Senior Women

Heating Homes in the 1940s

Since the loss of my father a few short weeks ago, memories have been flooding back from my childhood.  Winter in northeast Iowa was, and still is, relentless.

We lived in an old drafty two-story home that was heated with a coal furnace.  Every fall, an old man would pull up to the side of the house, open the coal shute and shovel a load of coal into the storage room in our basement.  That was right next to the furnace so it was easy to access.

My sisters and I slept in rooms that had floor registers allowing warm air from the first story to drift up to our rooms.  But it was never very warm on the second floor when the temperature was freezing outside.  We slept in flannel pajamas with socks, covered by several thick home-made quilts and comforters.

My memory is of awakening on frosty mornings, jumping out of bed, throwing on my bathrobe and running downstairs to the big floor register in the middle of the room between the dining area and living room.  We four sat around that register, warming our little bodies before we went to the breakfast table.

What I was mostly unaware of then was what my dad had to do in order for us to be able to sit by that floor register and enjoy a warm home in the middle of winter.  When he arose every morning, he had to go down two flights of stairs, stoke the coal embers, shovel several buckets of coal into the furnace and then stir the fuel around to get it burning.  Only then did the house begin to warm up.  And he had to do that early enough so it was warm when we four awakened.  Daddy did that every winter morning for years, until we finally were able to get a gas furnace to replace the old coal one.  He never complained.  I think he just knew what he had to do to take care of his four little chicks.

Thank you, Daddy.

Red Chard Recipe

Here’s a great recipe for Red Chard.  We got a bunch this week in our organic coop delivery and I experimented with it.  To our total delight, the final dish was superb!  Here’s what I did:

Measure the amount of chard to use by picking up a big handful, put your hand around the stalks and use that much.  Cut off the red woody stalks; cut the green leafy chard into one inch strips.  Saute a couple of fresh garlic cloves in 3-4 tsps of olive oil for about a minute.  Add the chard, salt and pepper to taste, and a pinch of dried red pepper, and cook until tender but not mushy; stir as needed.  Be sure to use fresh chard!



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