Family Home in Chinook


I was probably about age five. I don’t think I was going to school yet. We had a purple bag of marbles with a tie on the top of it. When you pull on both strings it closes, then you can open it and pour out the marbles. These are nice marbles. They’re what we used to call glass agates. They’re not large, just standard size marbles.

When I was five, the two brothers and I, especially in the winter when we were confined indoors a good portion of the time, would get these marbles together on the kitchen floor and we would use chalk to make a ring and try to shoot each other’s marbles out. This was fun, but of course we used to get out of hand and start tossing the marbles around a little.

If, by chance, they got from the kitchen into the dining room, there was a big chance that they would roll then into the entry to the living room. Just inside this entry on the left hand side of a built-in bookcase with glass was the central furnace. It would have been at least three foot square with a steel or cast iron grate. Below this grate was a big furnace. Dad went down in the basement with a little wood and some paper. He’d open the door to the furnace, set the wood and paper in, get it lit. He’d pull the chain up into the living room. You could pull one chain for the damper, one for the draft. It was really an automatic furnace and you could set it so it would only open a little ways. Ah it was a sophisticated furnace. Anyway, he’d get the fire going well and the heat would come up.

If we got carried away with our marbles, guess what happened? Down the furnace went our marbles and of course Dad was not about to go down in the basement and take all the tin shielding off from around the outside to get inside with all the dirt and dust to find those marbles. We had been warned many times – do not play marbles anywhere except the kitchen.

Now the house was reasonably well-built, but it sloped down to the furnace just enough, so that even if you tried, if you didn’t get there quickly, the marble would just go right down one of the holes in the cast-iron grate. All the holes were about one inch square. The marbles just went down there marvelouslly. That’s one of my early memories.

Another memory is when we could finally cajole Dad into going down into the basement, undoing the wing-nuts on the furnace shielding, and getting into the dust, dirt and lint to dig around for the marbles. He would not let us boys do this because Mother would then have to try to bath us which was another major operation in the house.


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