Editor’s note: This is another column in Bill Boyd’s new series, “The Way It Was,” about growing up in Marysville. Bill continues to work with the Union County Historical Society to obtain information for his stories. With Marysville and Union County celebrating Bicentennial anniversaries in 2019 and 2020, respectively, these articles help depict what life was like in those early years.
A pajama problem
I think the winter of 1940-41 was one of the coldest winters we had when I was a kid. Those arctic temperatures put quite a strain on our old coal furnace. To keep the five downstairs rooms warmer, my dad shut off the heat to the three upstairs bedrooms. And you wouldn’t believe how cold those bedrooms got.
I took a hot water bottle to bed with me at night. It kept my feet nice and warm. I was never cold at night, because of all the blankets on my bed, plus the hot water bottle. In fact, my bed was nice and toasty.
But getting out of bed in the morning was a different matter. On some days, when outdoor temperatures were below zero, I could see my breath in the air of that bedroom as soon as I poked my head out from under the covers. Boy, did that make me move fast.
One of the heating registers downstairs was directly above the furnace. It was the warmest spot in the house, so that’s where I got dressed in the morning. I would hold my pants over that register to get them warm before I put them on. But no matter how warm I got those pants, the icy wind blew right through them when I walked to school.
Then one morning, when the temperature was hovering around zero, I got a great idea. Why don’t I leave my pajama bottoms on, and put my pants on over them? My pajamas were made of a soft, warm flannel material. They would keep my legs warm as I walked to school. I didn’t even think twice about it. I put my pants on right over my pajama bottoms.
It proved to be a great idea, for that extra layer kept my legs nice and warm even though the winds were fierce. It was especially nice when we went outdoors for recess that morning. That extra layer kept my legs warm while we were on the playground. But a problem developed not long after we got back in our classroom at the end of recess.
As I sat at my desk, about an inch or so of my pajamas slipped out of the bottom of both pant legs. The pajamas were made of a bright red plaid material, and it stood out like a sore thumb. A kid named Jim Woodson was the first to notice those bright red pajama legs. He immediately pointed at me and started laughing as he said, “Oh, look at this … Boyd is wearing his pajamas to school.” And he roared with laughter.
I quickly went to work pushing the PJs back up my legs, and I tucked them into my socks. As I did this, one of my best friends, a boy named Dick Foley, saw what I was doing, and he began to laugh. I have mentioned his laughing several times in these columns. I never saw anyone who enjoyed laughing as much as he did. And once he got started, he just couldn’t stop.
So there I was, sitting at my desk, while Jim and Dick were having a great time laughing. A couple of the other boys asked me to pull up my pant legs so they could see my pajamas. I didn’t do that, of course, as the whole thing was pretty embarrassing. I think that was the first time I ever felt embarrassed.
But I learned an important lesson that day – I should never put my pants on over my pajama bottoms, no matter how cold it is. And to this day, I have never again done that. Oh, I was tempted to do it a couple times last winter, but I didn’t actually do it. I didn’t want anyone to laugh at me.
Those wishing to contact Bill Boyd can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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