Friday, July 10, 2009


Dad was a busy man; things around the old homestead often got done slowly. One early July in the late 1950s -- Paula and I had to have been fully grown to have brought this off -- we found ourselves unable to open our bedroom windows because the storm windows were still on. We may have considered together what we could do about this, but I seem to remember that, as usual, I figured it out and then proposed it to Paula. I'm sure we didn't trouble Mother with our plans; she could be deplorably narrow-minded about my brilliant ideas. As for Dad, if he'd been available we wouldn't have had this problem.

We're not, of course, talking about modern combination windows. An old-fashioned storm window was a rigid wood and glass object the size of the entire (large) window that it covered. I had long known that I could undo the hook at the bottom of the window and swing it outward. I think I had even lifted it off the brackets at the top, just to see if I could. I also managed to put it back. How to get it off the window entirely required some consideration.

Dad used to hold the window at arm's length parallel to the ground, rotate it 45 degrees, and gently draw it backward into the house. This method requires hands and wrists and forearms that few humans, and possibly no teenage girls, are blessed with. I knew better than to try it. I considered the relative dimensions of the window, my arms, Paula's arms and height, and the distance from the bottom of the second story windows to the ground. I may even have done some measuring.

This sounds hair-raising; but it was surprisingly easy to unhook a window and lower it between my hands to the point where Paula, basketball player and all-around athlete, could reach it, and then lower it together until I ran out of arm length, by which time she could easily control it and set it gently on the ground. We didn't have to carry them downstairs. We started with my bedroom window and worked our way, smoothly and without so much as an unsteady moment, around to the windows on the opposite side of the house.

When we confessed to the authorities what we'd been up to, it seemed to me that they weren't appropriately impressed. We may even have been allowed to repeat the procedure in subsequent years.