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Pat Shingleton: "Dropping the Grate, Takin' a Bath"

3 years 4 months 2 weeks ago January 11, 2014 Jan 11, 2014 Saturday, January 11 2014 January 11, 2014 3:00 AM in Pat Shingleton Column
By: Pat Shingleton

Before gas furnaces, coal provided heat. Located in the home basement the burning coal heated an iron "bell" that radiated heat throughout the home by a series of insulated ducts. Before bedtime it was the duty of our father, grandfather and later - us, to stoke the fire and layer coal to provide overnight warmth. Periodically, the grate that held the coal ashes sifted into a chamber that was removed on a daily basis. Traditionally, our grandfather would "drop the grate," appropriately timed for him on Saturday afternoons, to remove remaining ashes and to provide more heat than needed - while he took his bath. While he scrubbed, we were almost naked with 20 degree weather outside as we were sweating inside at 101 degrees.

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