Kawartha Lakes Public Library - Digital Collections
Looking Back: Soot
, p. 30

Hooper, John, Author
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Item Type:
Written: 19 April 1998
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Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 44.35012 Longitude: -78.73286
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Full Text

Once the warmer weather set in, come spring, it was time to take down the stove pipes and give them a thorough cleaning.

It was a dirty job but it had to be done to prevent chimney fires that were all too common back in the old days.

One had to lay down newspapers in the area where the pipes would be taken down so as to collect the soot that would drop when the pipes were being uncoupled.

I can still see my mother hopping up on a chair with a pair of pliers in her hand and undoing the stovepipe wires that were holding the pipes up. Slowly they would be disengaged to prevent as little soot as possible to escape.

The stench of the creosote that had gathered in the pipes over the winter months still permeates my nostrils when I think about it. I am reminded of the smell of railway ties and fence posts that were painted with it to help them last for several years.

The stovepipe usually traveled from the kitchen stove to an upper bedroom and the person occupying that room was considered lucky because of the warm room they enjoyed over the winter months.

Once the pipes were completely down we would take a stick and pound gently on the pipes to loosen the soot that was black as a boot. Then it was out to the back yard where we disposed of the powdery smelly stuff.

We then put the pipes back together, ensuring that the asbestos, that lined the holes where the pipes traveled through, was in good shape.

Then we headed for the bathtub where we would rid ourselves of a coal miner's appearance.

I still think there was something special about those good old times.

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Looking Back: Soot