« Boardwalk Blackout | Main | Old Age »

Monday, 23 July 2012

The Newfangled Blanket

By Mickey Rogers of This, That and the Other

In the winter, my grandparents’ farmhouse was an icebox. The living room wasn’t too bad if one sat within a foot or two of the pot-bellied stove. Of course, every few minutes one had to rotate in order to avoid permafrost on one half of the body.

The bedrooms had little heat so bricks would be warmed, wrapped in cloth and placed in the bottom of the beds. Back in those days, one longed to have a sleeping partner but not necessarily for affectionate reasons; a little shared body heat went a long way.

Somehow my grandparents had survived many winters in this fashion. One year, however, someone graciously gave them what Grandpa called “a newfangled blanket.” It was an electric blanket with duel controls.

Unfortunately, the first night my grandparents used this gift they got a hold of each other’s controls. It turned out to be a long night for both of them.

Within ten minutes of going to bed Grandpa complained that he was too hot.

“Then turn down the temperature with your control,” Grandma ordered.

He did so, but of course, he was actually turning down the temperature on Grandma’s side of the blanket.

“This thing isn’t working. I’m freezing!” Grandma soon complained.

“Turn up your control,” Grandpa murmured.

By this time Grandpa was sweating, and knowing him, cursing profusely: “I‘m melting under this %$#(*&^%! newfangled blanket!” he roared.

Grandma, through chattering teeth, replied: “Then turn down your control!”

And so it went throughout the night. Grandpa, his face beet red, felt as if he had slept in a sauna while poor Grandma had to check her body for frostbite.

The next morning after breakfast, Grandpa went about his usual chores. Grandma, still suffering from the effects of her arctic-like adventure, was wrapped in an extra coat as she cleaned the house.

Grandpa returned to the house at noon for lunch. Grandma had made hot soup but Grandpa, still trying to recover from his “night in Hades,” preferred something cold.

Finally he spoke up. “I’ve been thinking about that newfangled blanket,” he began.

“I have, too,” added Grandma.

Grandpa continued. “If progress means suffering like that every night, then I’d rather just keep doing things the old-fashioned way.”

“I agree,” Grandma said through still-chattering teeth.

That night they heated bricks, wrapped them in sheets, and jumped under a pile of thick blankets none of which was attached to an electrical cord. Earlier that evening the electric blanket unceremoniously had been tossed into the trash.

Maybe it’s a good thing that the old folks didn’t live long enough to have to deal with such “newfangled” things such as cell phones or computers.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


I can remember cold nights beneath lots of quilts...but we did not have electric blankets.... cute story...

I drew the unlucky number and had to sleep with my sister. However, the feather bed was wonderful. My dad started the fire before he went to work and we jumped out of bed in the mornings to dress around the coal-heated, pot belly furnace. Your story reminded me of these times.

So many shared experiences with both you and Jackie. Thanks for the memories. Our farmhouse was so cold--only a small grate in the floor to let the heat from the "warm-morning" coal stove drift up a little. My sister and I would race upstairs, jump under about 4 thick quilts,shivering, then not change positions till morning and time to race down to dress in the corner behind the stove.I still prefer a cold bedroom to sleep in, though.

How funny. Sometimes basic technology goes a long way. Thanks for sharing.

How beautifully written you describe this most uncomfortable night with humour and pathos.How I wish we could see so many of these stories acted out as mini one act plays.. you bought me some warmth with your words, Mickey. Thanks

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment