Under 1 Roof: 12 Kids, 2 Women, and 1 Very Patient Man

For those who are tired of reading my poetry–and I imagine that your numbers are legion–I’ve decide to re-post a story and a song or two. Here’s a story for newer readers:

Under 1 Roof: 12 Kids, 2 Women, and 1 Very Patient Man

When I was in my early- to mid-teens a maternal aunt and her 7 children moved in with our family of 7 into a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom house. They were from the east coast and none of the kids from each family knew the other.

The five boys were in one bedroom and the seven girls in another. Thank goodness for bunk beds with 3 mattresses! Personal space was rare and precious, and privacy was a wonderful concept with virtually no chance of reality.

Despite major efforts by everyone, I’m sure that noise levels greatly exceeded volume standards for jet engines. That must have been very tough on the nerves of the adults.

Certain aspects of life needed to be fairly tightly regimented. For example, with 15 people and only 2 bathrooms you can imagine how crazy that got! The lines could get as bad as those at a ball game at half-time. And there was often more dancing and squirming while standing in those lines than what might be seen at a high school dance.

The ambiance at meal time was akin to a military mess hall with a platoon of hungry recruits devouring everything in sight. In our house it was be fast or go hungry.

It took multiple shopping carts piled as high as possible just to keep food on the table. I can’t even imagine how much it cost to feed all of us!

And the piles of laundry were mountainous and never-ending. Our clothes washer and dryer worked around the clock.

The older kids helped around the house—-though I’m sure that we didn’t help nearly as much as we thought we did, or as the adults would have liked! I was the oldest of the 12 kids and I was still fairly young.

Schedules needed to be strictly adhered to. One person running late could wreak havoc on everyone, and getting everyone out of the house on time resembled a cross between a fire drill and a scene from the Keystone Cops—-but with a LOT more noise.

While all this might seem to be a recipe for disaster or misery, I don’t remember it that way. We kids had a whole bunch of cousins we hadn’t known before to get to know and to play with.

We all just kept finding ways to make it work.

It must have been tough for my mom and her sister to live under one roof with each other and so many children, but I can’t even imagine how it must have been for my poor (and I mean that both figuratively and literally) Dad.


About russtowne

I'm awed by the beauty of nature and the power of love and gratitude. Some of my favorite sensory experiences include waves crashing on rocky shores, waterways in ancient redwood and fern-filled forests, and rain. My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 5 grandchildren. I manage a wealth management firm that I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of approximately 60 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children.
This entry was posted in Abundance, Challenges, Children, Parenting, True Stories I've Written and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Under 1 Roof: 12 Kids, 2 Women, and 1 Very Patient Man

  1. While it sounds unbelievably hectic I bet there was a lot of fun and memories…Diane

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes to all three. Your comment reminded me that something as basic as prepping sack lunches for school required quite an amazing assembling line.


    • Anonymous says:

      Yes to all 3, Diane. Something as simple as making lunches for school took quite an amazing assembly line.


  2. willowdot21 says:

    Just amazing, we always had relatives , friends or just plain waifs and strays staying in our house too , there were eight of us as a base note but I don’t think we ever reached your numbers!! PS we only had one toilet , and one room with a bath in! 😉

    • Anonymous says:

      LOL! I’m quite familiar with “Bathroom Wars”, in fact I wrote a whole post about them once, under that title I believe if you care to look it up.


  3. Wow, Russ, your mom and dad were clearly as generous in heart as you are! Taking in a whole other, LARGE family could not have been easy, but it sounds like you all certainly made lemonade out of lemons! 🙂

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank your kind comment, Lori. We tended to focus much more on “How are we going to make this work?” than “Wow, what a mess we’re in.”


  4. I love the ‘how are we going to make it work’ attitude! I think you should write a book about your memories of that time! 🙂

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for your suggestion and kind feedback, Misifusa. Knowing myself, if I ever write a book, it will most likely be because one or more others wanted to collaborate on a joint effort. To me, a LOT of the juice is in working (PLAYING) with others on a project. That’s how I got into songwriting, and even in poetry (which so far has been a solo effort), if I were to write a book I’d probably join in with other poets I greatly admired to jointly launch it. As for a book of my short stories, I don’t have enough of them yet for a book.


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