When we first moved into the big white house - the first one in Winston-Salem, it was heated by a coal furnace. A big truck full of coal would, periodically, drive across the back yard and butt into the hole in the side of the house that led down to the basement. Then it would up end and dump the load of coal onto the big pile down there. It was dirty and dusty and had a peculiar odor.
Coal truck day was really fun for us kids. It was fascinating to watch. My brother was particularly mesmerised by it and he'd then discuss it for days afterward.
Then, one winter, the coal furnace died. I think I was probably about 7 or 8 (making my sister 7 and my brother 4). And it was cold. And it turned out to be the most amazing adventure. The living room was normally off limits to kids. But, it had a fireplace so when the furnace died, we got to sleep on pallets of blankets and quilts in the living room. OMG there was nothing more exciting. Everyone slept that way - Mother and Daddy and me and my brother and sister. I just cannot express how cool that was to us kids. Mom and Dad probably not so much.
For meals, Mom would cook dinner in the oven and then put the door down and put our little kid stools around it and we used the oven door for a dinner table and got heat from the oven. It was so cool.
Getting the coal furnace repaired was doable but really they wanted to replace it and that was very expensive and it took about a week. I remember my parents gnashing over the whole thing so stressfully while we kids were having the absolutely best time ever.
And then Summer. In Summer, the South is one giant bug fest. Seriously, there are so many bugs, you almost don't notice them after a while. But mosquitoes... those motherfuckers will try to kill you. I had the kind of body that mosquitoes live to feed off of. I was one giant calamine lotion covered mosquito bite from April to November.
Except for when the mosquitoes got really bad. Usually every few weeks. The city would then send out pesticide trucks. Big old trucks would drive slowly through the neighborhood in the evening (big mosquito action time) and spew giant clouds of bug killer into the neighborhood. We LOVED to run behind the trucks and get lost in the clouds and we did it all the time. And it worked. The mosquitoes left me alone for at least a whole day after the bug trucks. Kind of kinky to know now that those truck clouds were all DDT. We were running and biking and playing in clouds of stuff that has now been banned in the U.S. for nearly 50 years.
To Be Continued