Pat Shingleton: "Bed Warmers, A Coal Delivery and Katie's Birthday"
The arrival of the coal truck was a treat for me and my older brother Kevin. With faces pressed against the living room window, the coal-man positioned his dump truck adjacent to the basement “coal” window.” His metal chute was attached to the exterior and once the truck bed was elevated, here came the coal. For us it was the excitement of watching a dump truck dump and the sound of the coal funneling down the chute then rumbling below us into the coal cellar. It sounded like bowling balls hitting a tin roof. The only way the coal-man made his delivery was “if” the ground was frozen. A stuck truck was even more exciting. Homes built in the 1900s had limited insulation. Even though the coal furnace was stoked for the overnight it did not provide adequate heat when the temperature dipped to -5. Beds were kept warm with a brick, heated near the fireplace and wrapped in a towel while some used a traditional “bed warmer.” This device looked like a giant skillet with a long handle and lid. Coals, placed in the container, warmed the bed by passing the device between the sheets and the outer blankets. As an early-morning paperboy, it wasn’t unusual to “hit-the-sack,” fully dressed, to avoid the morning chill at 6:00 AM. Finally, the first days of 1988 were "gnarly." The daytime high for New Year's Day was 59 with chilly wind blown rain. On January 3, 1988, we hit 81 degrees, breaking a record high for the date of 80, logged in 1943. Another front zipped through on January 4 sending the temperatures down 28 degrees from the previous day to a high of 52 and a freeze warning. The blustery weather lasted into the next day with an overnight low just shy of the freeze mark. By January 6 a major snowstorm was brewing in the Midwest while Baton Rouge experienced rain and 44 degrees. On January 7, 1988 two events occurred. A freeze warning was issued for the area with just 40 degrees for the high and Katie Shingleton was born. The following day, Katie was transported home with some snow on the ground. Happy birthday Katie with great forecasts for you in the future.