Although I grew up in the 1960s and ’70s, my early days were somewhat like a 1930s childhood. My home was in central Wisconsin, in the sticks. I grew up poor, partly due to my Dad’s love of beer, and also because of his lack of ambition. We lived in a tar paper shack, built without a foundation. Our little home had no insulation, cardboard walls on the inside, tar paper on the roof and ghetto brick siding. I was the youngest of six and we tried our dangdest to stay warm in the wintertime.
A Monarch wood cookstove (manufactured by the Malleable Iron Range Co. in Beaver Dam) was our main source of heat in the kitchen. We also had a small, airtight wood heater in the “living room” made of thin sheet metal. When the tin stove had a good fire roaring in it, the stove along with the straight stove pipes going up through the roof turned bright red. It was a miracle that no one ever burned the house down.