We lived in a German Victorian two-story brick house built in 1862. Our bedroom was upstairs through a hallway to the left. There were two windows that looked out to the east across a tin roof. Which covered the kitchen below. We could see the sunrise through those windows if we woke up early enough. When it rained, we would hear the rain on the tin roof. Through these windows we would hear the Baltimore and Ohio train horns as they chugged through Ottawa which was about two miles away.

The room was probably about fifteen feet by fifteen feet. The ceilings were twelve feet high. There were two double beds in the room but in the winter my two sisters and I would all sleep in one double bed to keep warm. We would put feather beds on the beds for the winter. Radiators which were in the hallway provided some heat but it was never warm enough when we went upstairs. There was a transom above the door to our bedroom that could be opened for movement of air.

Besides the two windows in the bedroom there were two windows in the hallway that faced to the west. In the spring, summer and fall we would open all the windows and have good cross ventilation. We would put a portable screen into the open window which would telescope to fit the open space. Outside these windows were two pear trees, cherry trees, peach trees and apple trees. If we looked down the lane and across the road, we could see where our dad grew up. The barn at that house was a big white barn that had shingles on the roof that spelled out John H. Kleman (my grandfather). The barn was built around the time my dad was born in 1892.

The bed in our bedroom had a foot board that was rounded. When we were little, we would sit on the rounded end and do flips backward into the bed. We were not supposed to do that so we had to muffle our giggles so we wouldn’t be heard.

The closet held the feather beds in the summer and some of our clothes and other blankets. We had a chifforobe that had a closet on the right side, drawers on the bottom left side, and a cupboard on the top left side. Inside the upper left side there were small shelves and drawers where we could put treasures and our jewelry. There was a tall set of drawers in the room as well.

On the floor was a gray rug. My mother sent old clothes to a place that cut strips of the clothes and wove them together to make a rug. It didn’t look like a rag rug so we must have sent woolen materials like old suits, comforters and coats. Each spring we would carry that rug outside and hang it on the clothesline and beat it to get the dust out of it.

Before we had radiators to heat the house, we had a coal stove in the living room. There was a register in our upstairs bedroom floor that had a grate on it that opened to the living room downstairs. Heat from the coal stove in the living room would rise up through the register and grate. It provided some heat for the room. One day I discovered that I could hear the conversations when I was lying on the floor trying to get warm. It was a square register about sixteen inches square. It was through this register that I listened to the adult discussions that were going on in the living room downstairs. It was through this register at age eleven that I learned that my mother was going to die.


Contributed by: Rosemary Hume

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