life in and around NYC is insane

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Fire and Ice

So I spent the three day weekend at Drew's house. Went home Monday a trio of 'heating and air conditioning" vans on the driveway.

Seems that the boiler - installed new when the house was built in 1968 - called it quits Friday night. Pilot light would not stay lit. Component parts were not replaceable. Repairman says this type of boiler was meant to last about 25 years max, so no complaints. Still, replacing the boiler proved to be expensive and time consuming

And it made for a very chilly weekend at the old homestead. Most of the family bailed out, stayed with friends. I wound up back at Drew's.

But it was time to bring back the family story ...

My mother always complained that the den was too dark, that the windows didn't let in enough light.

January 1978. An ice storm hit Long Island. The trees looked absolutely beautiful coated in a thick glaze. Except when they were cracked and falling from the weight. And dragging down power lines.

Our house was hit hard. Our whole neighborhood lost power for 5 days. No electricity or heat.

Many of our neighbors sought refuge in nearby hotels or with friends who didn't lose power. Others chose to stay and tough it out. They built fires in their fireplaces and cooked over Sterno.

But our house?

There was a tall oak tree in our yard, so tall and so old that it had branches as thick and heavy as some other trees. One of those branches knocked over our chimney and crashed through the roof of our den, making the fireplace inaccessible and useless.

The twins were 10 years old at the time; they were sent to stay at a friend's house. But the rest of us stayed at the house. In the cold. The brutal cold. We escaped to warm places during the day, but came home at night to sleep. With our coats on.
Pepi, our dog, cuddled under the blankets with us. Our cat Cinders spent a lot of time running back and forth to stay warm.

Afterwards, my parents didn't simply repair the den roof, they installed a skylight.

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