Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I once set a bed on fire

Now that I have your attention....
When I was a child in Iowa, we lived directly across the road from the local blacksmith and his family.  The road was evidently a dividing line for school districts, because the Mitchell boys attended a different one-room school than I did.  
It was December, and my mom and I were going to go with the Mitchells to see the boys' school Christmas program; we went over to their house a little ahead of time.  The kids and I wandered upstairs to play while our parents were visiting.  As was true of all the old two-story houses of that day, the upstairs wasn't heated and it was really cold up there.  
In the 1940's and '50's, lots of folks had lights that hooked over the top of their their headboards, so if they wanted to read in bed, or simply have a light close at hand, there it was; you didn't even have to sit up to turn it on because it was right above your face.  I've scoured the Internet looking for a picture of such a light, but didn't find one like I remember.  If you are my age, perhaps you know what I'm talking about.   
Anyway, there was a headboard lamp hooked onto head of the bed the boys shared, and I got an incredible idea:  light bulbs put out heat, so why not turn that lamp on and put it under the covers so that when we returned from the program, the boys would have a nice warm bed.  
I have no idea why I had such concern for little Lloyd and Gary.  
They returned, after the program, to a smoke-filled house and a smoldering mattress; I remember seeing it on the lawn the next day, black and smelly, where it had landed after being shoved out the window.  
Looking back, I'm sure the kids must have told their mom it was my bright idea to put the light under the covers, but nobody ever accused me; and I went around carrying what I thought was a dirty little secret inside me for a long, long time.


This is the school I attended in Iowa

9 comments:

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

Just across the road from my grand parents farm there was a school that looked much like yours. It was used for a good many years around there and I think it is still standing. It was the last time I visited there. I visited the school often when I'd visit them and they welcomed me in and I'd join in the classes and activities that were going on at the time. Thanks for the memories this morning.

ingasmile said...

Did you ever tell your parents? Well, at least there is a happy ending and you didn't say "I once burnt down a house". My dh set a garbage truck on fire once. When he was a wee tot, he and some friends were playing in the back with matches, ya know just seeing what would burn and whoop, before you know it the whole thing was up in flames.

m.v. said...

There is an old schoolhouse replica in Deanna Rose farmstead in OP and I think an original one in a park in Leawood.http://www.leawood.org/parks/oxfordschool.aspx

Donna said...

There's a schoolhouse on many of the tractor show grounds we visit, too.

The Guy Who Writes This said...

Donna, I just love the life you've lived.

Hyperblogal said...

m.v. broke a nail fast clicking on this post...

Sayit-baldys said...

DONNA, MEMORIES OF THIS SORT ARE PROBABLY FAIRLY COMMON WITH OLDER FOLKS.
WHEN I WAS FIVE, VISITING AT A RELATIVE'S HOUSE, WINTER TIME. SOME MATCHES HAD BECAME SOAKED AND THROWN IN THE TRASH.
GRANDMA SAID THEY WERE NO GOOD. SORT OF BEING STUCK TOGETHER.

LITTLE SAM THOT IF NO GOOD, WILL TAKE THEM OUT IN YARD AND JUST SEE IF THEY WILL LIGHT.
LOTS OF DEAD BERMUDA GRASS THERE. SEVERAL DID NOT LIGHT. HOWEVER ONE DID AND I LIT SOME BERMUDA GRASS AND STOMPED OUT THE FIRE. DID IT AGAIN. THE THIRD TIME THE FIRE GOT UNDER THE HOUSE THRU THE CRAWL SPACE OPENING.

I RAN INSIDE AND SAT BY DAD WHOM WAS TELLING A LONG WINDED STORY AND HE STOPPED AND SNIFFED A COUPLE TIMES AND SAID, I SMELL SMOKE.
THEY ALL RAN OUT AND FOUND THE FIRE AND GOT IT PUT OUT.
I EXPLAINED THAT GRANDMA SAID THE MATCHES WERE NO GOOD. sam

Tipper said...

Just an accident of a little girl-reminds me-my brother and cousin thought they'd build a campfire in the bedroom floor-Mom found them just before they lit it. They-like you didn't mean to do anything harmful-just thought a campfire would be nice : )

Anonymous said...

I hadn't thought about those lights in years, but my grandparents had one on their bed. You can search ebay under vintage bed lights, and I think you'll find something similar to what you remember.