Pat Shingleton: "Bed Warmers and Car Hopping"
Previous articles explained the efforts needed to stay warm with the use of a coal furnace. 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. From the North to the South and in South Louisiana, car-hopping occurred at Hopper's or Sonic. Car hopping in Western Pennsylvania occurred after a heavy snow. Our favorite jump-on spot was Pete Pavlovic's Store. With a half-foot of snow on Brighton Road cars would spin across the icy road, trying to make it up the grade. Hiding behind the store we'd wait for the right moment to "hop the cars" by grasping the rear bumper at the right moment. We would then glide down the road as our boots created a snow wake. At school we often found a car-hopper with a lump on his head. A few dry spots on the road meant our boots stopped sliding and our heads met the trunk.
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