Saturday, September 16, 2006

Miss Jennings 1891-1975 another learning experience

I first went to Miss Jennings home in Rockaway, New Jersey in 1972.
She was a interesting old lady who had lived in the same house in Rockaway since 1897.
I would come by and spend time with her and like Miss Holmes she would regale me with stories of her youth.
What was most interesting about her home was, the home of her youth was still the same in 1972!!!!
I would come by and shovel coal into the boiler in the winter. There would be a delivery of coal and I would come by and shovel a few pounds of coal in the furnace.

In the kitchen was a wood burning stove from 1890's! It was still very much in use in the 1970's. I cooked on it once for her. I learned how to get it working and opening the exhaust pipe that went to the chimney. I would bring in a load of wood and get the stove heated up. That stove would do a good job of heating a good portion of the house.

There was not a refrigerator, just a cooling pantry. I was living in the 19th century in this house. It was most amazing to visit this interesting old lady ....Many people were scared of her.....But I enjoyed her as I saw in her the history. The front door had a pull door bell...The living room has corner chairs and many oil lamps.

I helped her fix her roof and bought books from her. I still have a few of them and they still smell of her home. A mix of coal, dust, mold, age, and the Jennings family.

Each room was still fitted with the furnishings of the age when they had last been used. Her fathers room still had all of his hats hanging on the wall. He had died in 1929 and the room was never touched after that.

There was damage in some of the rooms from an explosion at Picketinny arsenal in 1926. That was a army base which blew up in 1926.

There was an Edison phonograph in the attic with about 150 wax cylinders and often I would set it up and make it play for her. I always wish I had found a way to buy that machine. But I was 15 years old and had no money, nor did my family....

So that was never to be an option. She died in 1975, and I was one of the 4 people who went to her funeral. There was a contractor who bought the house and tossed out most of the items in the house as they had no interest in its history.....Well it was all gone but that moment of time will forever be with me.

It was an interesting experience to enter the 19th century in 1972.

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