Cold Thoughts of Days Gone By

On many a dreary winter day in that third floor tenement, I pressed my forehead against the window, its inside lined with a curved layer of ice tucked in the corner.

The house was not well built, and the cold of the outside clashed with the warm steam heat on the inside….ice condensed on the glass.

I pressed my nose and chin to melt it. I made a hand print.

It was cold: a penetrating cold that climbed my arm on those gray days.
As I peered through the thin layer, I could see the ice on the the rooftop of the house below.

Puffs of smoke, now predictable in their rhythm, were emanating from the chimney. I wish I could have seen our chimneys.
Were there three, one for each tenement? I wasn’t sure. I’ll ask Dad when he gets home from work.

There were some pigeons huddled together under an eave. The tenants probably were not aware.

Huge icicles hung from the roof. Some had fallen, piercing the air and shattering in the alley below to render a sea of diamonds…slivers, cubes, chunks…
It was quiet. I was afraid. Is anyone in this huge three-decker here with me? Of course. There had to be. There always was.

I was only ten years old.

© 2017

By | 2017-07-10T16:10:05+00:00 February 27th, 2017|Stories of the 1940's and 1950's|8 Comments


  1. Dave Harvey February 27, 2017 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    A delightful, warmhearted story about the cold.

    • Ed February 27, 2017 at 3:24 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Dave.

  2. Bruce Ruttenberg February 27, 2017 at 4:32 pm - Reply

    Your posts ring with wonderful nostalgia and family warmth. Bruce

    • Ed February 27, 2017 at 7:19 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Bruce. I am pleased that I rekindled your memories.

  3. Dora Waters February 28, 2017 at 1:12 am - Reply

    What a very poetic and beautiful piece of writing you’ve produced here, Ed. I have similar memories of living in a third floor tenement as a young girl. After school I was alone since both my parents worked. But my great-aunt, Zia Salute, who lived on the second floor always made sure I ate well. A presto, Dora

    • Ed February 28, 2017 at 12:18 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Dora. We had similar stories indeed. I had three mothers…mine, my aunt and my grandmother. With all the doors of the three-decker always open, I didn’t have a chance. And… I loved it.

  4. Mike Montigny February 28, 2017 at 12:57 pm - Reply

    Wonderful story Ed, I lived in a 5 tenement house on the first floor. Everyone who lived there treated us like family.
    This story brought back many great memories.

    • Ed February 28, 2017 at 3:41 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Mike. Like the Packers announcer would say…”familiar names, familiar numbers”…
      So many stories, so very similar…

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