Our son Mike Jr. spent over an hour working hard to install a new gas valve on our living room fireplace. When he finished it was running like new (heating and looking comfortable), which he hadn’t in over a year. It turns on instantly with the flick of a switch.
It brought back memories of my childhood, when heat wasn’t something that happened in a pipeline that delivered natural gas. Far from there. I think we had a coal furnace when we lived in Reno, Nevada when I was about 5 years old. I remember the coal truck dumping coal down our coal chute into our basement coal bin. I had very little to do with it after it was delivered other than enjoying its thermal power.
When we lived in Alaska, our heat source in Kodiak and Douglas was fuel oil. No furnace provided us with central heating; space heaters were the norm.
At Douglas we had a rack of 55 gallon drums behind the house connected by copper tubing that ran under the house and then through the floor to a big heater that somehow heated our whole home. The tanker filled the drums about once a month.
When we moved to Utah in 1949, it was in an old house that must have been built around 1880. It was big and had high ceilings, ceilings at least 10 feet high. Each room had provisions for a stove of some sort, with access to the fireplace. The stoves burned coal or wood.
Natural gas hadn’t arrived in our neighborhood when we moved in, and we had to wait about five years for the luxury.
In the meantime, one of the local lumberyards sold and delivered coal, and unlike the convenience of our coal bin in our Reno basement, each coal delivery was dumped at the end of our driveway in gravel.
It was my job to make sure each of our four stoves was stocked with kindling (which I chopped and chopped) and a bucket full of coal. It was my homework every day after school.
It wasn’t too bad when the coal was first delivered, but by the time I worked the pile, looking for some nice stove-sized pieces, I was at the level of the ground, scraping the snow, to locate the pieces that were usable. I hated.
And speaking of hate, my brother Lowell and I shared an upstairs bedroom with no heat source other than the BTUs that drifted into our bedroom from our younger sister’s heated bedroom the next year. With the two of us involved in projects of all kinds, from building models, to artwork, and even homework, we often found ourselves running into the next room to warm up our icy fingers at both ends of our anatomy. .
It was far from “pleasant, comfortable”.
But, when that wonderful day arrived, when the gas line was finally in place in our neighborhood, I felt that somehow there would be a miracle and the heat would find its way to our “multipurpose room” upstairs.
A new natural gas heater was installed in our main living space, and directly above it, separated by plaster, joists and flooring, was our bedroom. My dad cut a vent-sized hole directly above the radiator in our bedroom floor and placed a metal vent in it. We had heat! Whoops !
You know, it was: “nice and comfortable”.