Forest City Courier, Oct. 27, 1938
The fireplace has been fittingly called “the heart of the home.” When primitive man discovered how to make a fire, it at once became the gathering place for the family; it supplied warmth and was an effective protection against the devouring animals. It furnished the heat for cooking food. It was the one and only essential of the home, for the family gathering place was really home even though the gathering was not sheltered by a house. As time went on the fireplace has held its place as a source of man’s necessitous and comforts and joys. However, since the inventions of modern times have given us such things as hot-water heat humidified air, and the other conveniences of our complex and hectic life, the fireplace has become a luxury instead of a necessity. With its complete disappearance would be gone, certain admirable qualities which mean much to our family affection and to a kindly regard for others. However decorative steam radiators, or how efficient our circulating stoves may be, they do not add the note of cheer and well being that a fireplace gives. Perhaps they make our houses warm and more comfortable, but an open fireplace adds its quota of joy of our lives and to the lives of those who care enough for us to come and it by our firesides.
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President McKinley used to say he packed his troubles in a satchel and kicked it under his desk when his day’s work was done. Then he went to his family with a relaxed mind and enjoyed life. We fear this idea has not become sufficiently widespread. Americans have become famous all over the world as a race of go-getters, people who hustle and bustle about their work, and a drive furiously toward some business goal. People who even take their play too hard, trying to cram a whole vacation into a single weekend and then suffer the blue Monday letdown. Still there are a few Americans who realize that we live too fast and try to do too much, that we are missing some of the finest things about us. Happiness is generally agreed on as being the great achievement of life. Not mere pleasure, but permanent happiness, which takes hold of life and lifts it to new planes. This may come without riches or power or the things that are considered important.
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Cake, in my childhood days, was a party food only. It was a real ceremony when the utensils and materials were assembled. When an extra-important guest was coming the cake-baking took place the day before. By special permission, and on our promise to keep quiet we children were allowed to watch the proceeding, and incidentally get the scraping from the mixing bowl. Of course, when the batter was thoroughly mixed and poured in the pan and put in the oven, there was a sense of real triumph. During the baking we had to whisper and tip-toe about them kitchen. Mother hardly dared take the first peep into the oven for fear the cake had fallen. Baking powder and eggs seemed to be temperamental in those days and you had “good luck” with your cake if it came out of the oven smooth and all in one piece. Nowadays our daughters learn in Home Ec. classes what it took us years to learn by sheer experience and practice. Today daughter can turn out a delicious cake in a short time, with plenty of self-assurance that it will not be one-sided or swayed down in the middle, and during the mixing and baking she can do several problems in math, phone her class-mate to find out tomorrow’s assignment in English, and listen to the radio.
Reprinted with permission from The Daily Courier. Copyright owned by The Daily Courier.