Steve Huffman column – Attic abode was cool. Also balmy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

When I was little, I shared a bedroom with two of my brothers ó Jimmy, who was two years older, and Ronnie, who was two years younger.
I slept on a top bunk and Ronnie slept below. Jimmy had a twin bed on the other side of the room, which really wasn’t very large.
This was all well and good until my parents slipped up and discovered that Son No. 4 was en route. Our two-bedroom house couldn’t hold another little one.
We couldn’t afford to move, so my father went to work finishing the attic. Prior to his project, there had only been a pull-down stairway to the upstairs.
Daddy paid a carpenter to build a permanent staircase, but finished the upstairs himself. He used plywood. It wasn’t fancy, but my father wasn’t a bad carpenter.
I was about 6 when all this was taking place and remember being incredibly excited about having my own upstairs room. It seemed it took forever for my father to finish the work.
When it was finally all said and done and the plywood painted, Jimmy had one end of the upstairs and I had the other. We moved our beds and chests of drawers up there.
The ceiling had a steep slope, so we could only stand in the center of our “rooms,” which weren’t really rooms since there was no partition separating one end from the other.
But at the age of 6, none of this concerned me.
The house had been built with a window at each end of the attic, but that was it. I’ve never asked, but I imagine that building dormer windows probably wasn’t included in the remodeling budget.
Anyway, because of the shortage of windows, the upstairs was fairly dark. But Jimmy and I each had more space, plus separate closets, so we didn’t complain.
I still remember the first night I slept up there. I Scotch-taped to the walls pictures of football and baseball players that I clipped from magazines and newspapers.
I hid my collection of silver dollars in the back of the closet and lined my tennis shoes and single pair of Sunday dress shoes alongside the bed (as something of a sign of wealth, I suppose).
The attic was a perfectly good place to sleep about half the year, when the outdoor temperature was moderate. Troubles arose when it got hot or cold.
During the remodeling, Daddy had installed a small grate in the attic’s floor, directly above the oil furnace in the hallway below.
The idea was for heat from the furnace to flow through the grate to the upstairs. It didn’t work well.
The attic was cold in the winter and hot in the summer. It was the mid-1960s when the work was done, several years before we got our first window air-conditioning unit.
Blankets and fans (depending upon the season) helped with the temperature problems, but didn’t come close to rectifying the situation.
A screened breezeway connected our house to the garage, and during the worst of summer’s heat, we’d sleep on cots there. I remember lying and watching the flashes of nighttime lightning.
It’s still a comforting memory.
The sixth anniversary of my father’s passing is approaching. I was thinking about him the other day and remembered being 6 years old and so very proud of my attic bedroom.