The dining room next to the kitchen had two marvels; the built in china cabinet with its pass through to the kitchen (never used) and bay windows that mimicked the ones in the bedroom above it.  Those bay windows, facing south, served two purposes; a source of light for mom’s potted plants in the winter, and the upstairs windows served as an exit to the porch roof where, as a teenager, I would retreat to “catch some rays”.  There was a good sized gap between the window and the porch roof, but luckily for me Dad had positioned the big, metal pole that held the TV antenna between them so I had something to hold onto as I made the transition from window to roof.

Dad was so good at creating what was needed with what was at hand.  The TV pole came from our double swing.  That swing was awesome and one of my favorite places when young.  The only drawback- it was under a mulberry tree which meant blackened feet during mulberry season.  When wasn’t it mulberry season in Kansas?  I remember there always seemed to be mulberries on the ground until they were covered with snow.  

The upstairs of the house had three big rooms.   The north upstairs room held the telephones that belonged to the telephone company.  It also held a large wooden bin.  Clothes no longer wanted were stored in the bin and were my go-to source for dress up.  The east room was used for storage.  On either side of it were closets under the eaves of the roof, a perfect place for the Christmas decorations and later to store my starched crinolines that I wore during high school.   I remember the south room being used as a bedroom in the summer.  Those bay windows were perfect for catching the night breezes that blew through the stretched curtains.

 When I was small I found the stairs to the upper floor scary, especially the descent, until I mastered the art of butt bumping down them.  There was an attic.  The door to it was high on the wall in the north room, unreachable by a chair.  Perhaps that is why I never ventured there.  

I would, on the other hand, occasionally venture into the basement.  This was Dad’s domain.  His work clothes hung in the stairwell.  My father could wear more clothes than anyone I knew or have ever known since.  Dressing was a ritual for him.  His basic outfit started with khaki pants and long sleeved shirt, belt and shoes, and always a hat.  In the winter this uniform took on extra form starting with insulated long johns, overalls to cover the khakis, a flannel long-sleeved shirt, fleece-lined jacket, a couple pairs of woolen socks and boots, the hat replaced by a cap with earflaps.  In these clothes he managed to climb the telephone poles, reattaching the lines brought down by the ice storms that blew across the fields.  All these clothes and variations of them hung in the stairway leading to the basement.  

Mom kept canned goods in a sectioned off portion of the basement at the bottom of the stairs.  A door from that room opened to a space that housed the huge, coal-burning furnace.  Dad had tons of tools and equipment in that room and so much of what he created came from that space.  A tiny room next to it held the coal that was delivered and shoveled through a chute from the north side of the house.  From there it was shoveled into the furnace.  

I loved the basement for its warmth in the winter when snow piled into drifts around the house on Burma Road.  A wooden workbench with a swivel-topped chair was lighted by a bulb with a metal shade hanging from the ceiling.  It was here that Dad would work his magic with leather.  From scraps he would create covers for his tools, and belts to hold the equipment he needed when repairing the telephone lines.  I still have the leather holster that he made for my cap pistol.  He climbed telephone poles with spikes that dug into the wood attached to his lower legs with leather straps.  A leather strap around his waist helped to propel him to the top of the pole.  I heard that his love affair with leather came from his affection for the horses that were used on the homestead west of Salemsborg.  He made the harness for his team, dressing it up with metal studs.  It was important to him that his team looked good.

Summers in the house on Burma Road were hot as only hot can be on the prairie.  I remember Mom telling stories about the Dust Bowl and having to hang wet burlap in the windows to catch the wind-driven topsoil of the country.  Before the window air conditioner, Dad came up with the solution for air circulation.  Attached to a heavy iron circular base was a metal pole four feet tall.  Attached to that was a motor from a refrigerator.  Attached to that was a circle of fan blades.  Thus was born our air circulator.  Now mind you, those blades had no protective cover.  The motor, when plugged in, created a noise similar to an airplane engine.  Air was moved!  And there was never a need to remind any one of the danger of those force-driven blades.  One look- one feel of the air being moved- and one gave a wide berth to that fan.  ImageImage

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