When cold weather arrived to stay, we “cocooned” in the bedroom for the duration of winter. We tried to put off the move until after Christmas so we could enjoy the Christmas tree in front of the double windows and I could hang my stocking from the mantle over the fireplace.
The bedroom had a fireplace too, but our little wood-burning heater was much more efficient. So, in real winter, the fireplace was closed with an iron screen and the hole into the chimney near the ceiling was opened. This hole was covered during summer months with a specially designed circle of tin with wire springs on the back that held it in place. These flue covers were commonly in stock at hardware stores. You could select a color to blend with your wall and a pretty scene was always painted on the center.
A large mat with metal surface went under the heater to protect the floor from wayward sparks and coals. A big stovepipe with elbow connected the heater to the flue. After months of storage in the shop, the stove and pipe needed a fresh coat of black paint and the paint smell permeated the house when the first fires were built.
The most comfortable rockers were brought from the living room for seating in a semicircle around the heater. When neighbors came by,we squeezed in straight chairs from the dining room.
Wood for the fire was stacked on the hearth behind the heater. Extra quilts and blankets were stuffed on the bedroom closet shelves so they would be handy to add in layers to the beds when the temperature dropped.
Old quilts were wrapped over jars of canned fruit and sacks of potatoes stored with us in a corner of the bedroom. On the coldest nights when the fire burned low, or possibly went out, the jars could freeze and burst in the uninsulated house if they were not further protected. Potatoes were ruined if they froze. Food supplies were periodically replenished from the underground cellar where they were safe from freezing.
At bedtime we brought the water bucket and dipper from the kitchen and set it on the hearth. The kitchen cooled down fast once the fire went out in the Home Comfort range and we dreaded going back for a drink. Even in the bedroom, a thin skim of ice sometimes formed in the water bucket overnight.
The top of the heater was flat and large enough to accommodate a pot. Often my mother would warm up a meal there. It was fun eating around the stove, not thought to be an inconvenience.
The teakettle was transferred from kitchen to bedroom and set on the heater top to provide water for baths. I hung a quilt over the back of a chair to make a screen and got between it and the stove to take my bath. My parents turned their rockers around with their backs to me and kept on reading to give me privacy.
I did not feel cramped or annoyed in our one-room shelter but contented and grateful. That’s the way things were.