Hot Grid

Growing up, I sat beside a floor furnace to get warm. It was a big square grid — about 36″ x 36″ — that filled the tiny hallway in the middle of the square house, joining the living room, two bedrooms, and a bathroom. Before Mama and Dad built an addition on the back, the furnace had to heat the entire house.

In summertime it was no big deal. It was just there — a big hole in the floor with a heavy metal grate over it. Mama would cover it up with a rug. But in wintertime, it gave us heat on cold wet days, and we all lingered near it, especially as we were getting ready for bed. It was at the center of our house, and it centered our family. It brought us together.

I sat in the doorway to the living room and placed my feet on its edges, and when the metal got too hot, I’d move them off. I liked the feel of the hot tic tac toe squares that remained on the soles of my feet. The furnace would make a loud clicking sound, then the heat would come on and gush upwards making my nightgown balloon, blowing my hair, warming and drying my eyes and the skin on my face.

Mama had a wooden clothes drying rack that she’d place on the furnace and hang towels on after she washed them. The heat would blow against them, waving them like flags, and dry them in no time.

My sister and I could sit quietly there and let the hot air wrap around us. Then our mother would walk over the hot grid between her bedroom and the bathroom, and her gown would blow out, and my sister would groan and fuss because our mother did not always have underwear on.

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3 Comments on “Hot Grid”

  1. corey says:

    I remember that hot grid too. The rug and all. Thankfully, mamaw didn’t flash us..hah

  2. inktarsia says:

    Love this story and how you tell it.
    My youngest boy sits on one of the furnace vents on cold mornings. Seems like it would make a painful impression….

  3. shyloh says:

    Oh my! 🙂

    I am reminded of an old yellow house I lived in with my three children in Mississippi. High ceilings and windows and the floor furnace – it was also the huddling place for the kids on winter mornings.


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