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This green house. . .

July 9, 2016
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Bungalow in Billings

We bought this big old house in January, 1984, the one where Penny and I still live.  A January arctic air mass had settled over Billings and the temperatures were in the teens below zero, possibly colder than that.  I rented a U-Haul to move the two blocks down the street from where we had been renting.  Our oldest kid was 12 years old.  Well, we had a nephew or two live with us.  I can’t remember exactly who or when, but they seemed to come and stay for months at a time.  It was good.

The house had filthy green carpet.  I don’t know where we slept that first night.  I remember that our cat, Burton Rustle, disappeared without a trace in the subzero weather.  I imagine we slept in our old house for a couple nights until we got moved into the new.  Probably we all slept together in the front room after we moved in.

We didn’t have a refrigerator.  Problem wasn’t keeping food cold; problem was keeping the food from freezing so we could eat it.  We found an ad for an outfit that sold used appliances and we got a fridge delivered to our house.  Trouble is the fridge was at least 30 years old and you opened the door with a wire coat hanger.  We didn’t learn about this until after we tried to use it in our house.  We’d spent $100.  The next morning I tried to complain about the fridge and the person simply hung up on me.  Penny went to our bank at nine the next morning to stop payment on the check, just in time to see the seller pull out of the bank parking lot.  Missed him by just a minute or so.

We needed to fix up the attic so the boys would have space to sleep.  Winter of ’84.  That’s when I met Tex Jawort at UBC Building Supplies.  He helped me load a lot of 2x4s and insulation and sheetrock into our old VW van.  I remember that Tex admired the van.  My nephew helped fix up the attic.  The access to the attic was in our back bedroom, so I cut a hole from the dining room into the stairway.  I cut the outline of the new doorway in the lath and plaster, then took a run at it with a cinder block.  Just as I was crashing into the wall with the block, Penny walked into the house, home from work.

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