Before the Modern Times
I often reminisce about things I’ve seen long ago during my childhood. Many of these things were charming or at least held some sort of charm for me and still do.
I remember the junk man driving up the street with his horse drawn cart. There was a hanging string of tin cans that jangled as his cart went down the road. I remember the saw dust on the floor at our local butcher shop and there was always a window to the refrigerated room where you could see animals on the hook waiting to be cut to order. I remember when people wore hats that were specific to their occupation and uniforms. I remember homes were built with single pane windows that would collect steam and frost over on cold nights.
These days the junk man drives a truck with hydraulic hoists and lifts. The butcher shops are sterile and you never see a full carcass on the hook. If anyone wears a hat it is either a baseball cap or a hard hat.
One that has changed over the years is windows. We now have double pane insulated windows. Before that everyone had aluminum framed storm windows. Even earlier than that, we had wooden storm windows. These windows were stored in a shed and when the nights started getting cold folks would take out the windows and clean and hang them. They were hung on special hardware that you don’t see these days. Its closest hardware relative would be like hardware to hang paintings. The bottoms of the frames were held in place with a hook and an eye.
The house I grew up in was built in 1861. My father had the house fitted with aluminum storm windows after a few years of hanging the wooden storm windows. Hanging wooden storm windows on the second floor was not a chore for someone that rarely climbed ladders. I remember seeing the wooden storm windows leaning in the shed for years. I wondered why he kept them. Maybe he figured he’d have a replacement if the aluminum windows failed for some reason.
Some houses even had large wooden screens that were hung over the windows and replaced by their glass counterparts in the winter. I can’t recall exactly, but I think we had several wooden screens for our house as well.
Before our house had the removable screens or windows it’s only winter protection was the wooden shutters. We see shutters as a decorative add-on to many houses these days, but they do absolutely nothing. I recall on some windy nights one of the shutters would unlatch itself and would bang back and forth until you got up, opened the window and reattached it. It was really cool having shutters and single pane windows. It wasn’t energy efficient, but it did give one the feeling of living in a different century.