The Softer Side
Nancy Willett [ February 2004 ]
All this cold weather that we’ve been having makes me very thankful for the winter clothing that we now have.
My grandmother told many stories of her driving adventures in the winter months. For some unknown reason my grandfather never got his drivers license until later in life. He was employed as a foreman for the Missisquoi Pulp Mill in Sheldon Springs Vermont, which was 8 miles from their home.
One particularly cold winter, much like we are experiencing this winter, my grandmother had the dubious job of driving him to work mornings. She had a 1928 Model A Ford Roadster, with no heat! Eight miles one way is a long ways to go with no heat in sub zero weather.
As you can imagine, the trip to Sheldon Springs was no piece of cake, and the return trip back was pure misery. Gram had on the standard mode of fashion for the day…dress, stockings, shoes stuffed in stadium boots, and a wool coat with fur collar and gloves. Wool coats were heavy, but didn’t offer much warmth at times. Grandfather wore long-johns, wool pants, flannel shirt, wool socks, wool jacket, wool cap and gloves.
Fingers nearly frozen, it was impossible to grip the wheel, so she stuck her arms through the steering wheel to steer the car, managing to get home before she became a block of ice. Fashion be darned, that one experience was enough for Gram. She started wearing a pair of men’s pants, socks, flannel shirt, and made a pair of three finger mittens from sheep’s skin that would allow her to grip the wheel better.
That very next spring the Model A was traded for a closed car with a heater. If Gram was going to be on the road, she was going to be warm!