The term the "old days" depends on how old you are I suppose. For some it might be be the "dirty 30's". For others, the war years of the 40's.

For me it would be the late 50's through the 1960's. Those were the old days for this tall bald headed Dutchman.

The winter's back then seemed worse, at least in my memory. The snow was deeper, the air was colder and the wind blew more. Oh I know, I could go junt up the records and find out scientifically if that's true.

But what fun would that be?

We lived on a small farm back then. It was just 80 acres that Mom and Dad rented. It had an old barn (until '68 when it burned down), an old hoghouse, an old grainery, an old....well, you get the idea.

And the house? Yep, old, but it was home. In those cold Minnesota winters, we'd haul straw bales up to the house and push them up against the sides of the walls. Plastic tacked up on all the windows, of course. And that oil burner.

Smack dab on the north side of the living room was the oil burner. A huge machine (at least to a small boy), it had doors that opened on the front and you could see the fire bright behind the glass panel.

Those doors you opened would turn into "hangers"...hangers for wet and cold gloves, pants, socks. Hang them there, dry them out and warm them up!

The pipe from the oil burner would run up, through the ceiling and right on up and through the south upstairs bedroom. In those cold Minnesota winters, my brother and I would both sleep in that "south" upstairs room because...well...that was the room where the warm stovepipe ran through. Waking up in the morning for school, first thing you'd do would be wrap those jeans around that warm pipe! Slip them on toasty warm and off you'd go.

We eventually got a small wood burning stove in the kitchen too. Sitting there at the kitchen table eating supper (yes, supper...dinner was at noon!) and watching the fire in that little wood burner.

The lights would go off a lot in those days. No electricity meant staying in the kitchen, wood burner fired up, kerosene lantern on the table and playing rummy or rook or some other card game. Maybe hours, sometimes days, before the electricity would come back.

Cold? Yeah, I guess it was. It must have been, after all it was Minnesota in the winter time.

But the memories. Oh, those memories are warm as the hot chocolate Mom made on that old kitchen stove.