L is for Living in the Good Old Days

Sometimes people complain that life is too rushed, too complicated, too expensive now. Contemplate what your life would be like 60 or 70 years ago. Think of the 1930s, 1940s.

You were likely to be living in a rural area or a small town at that time. The children attended school in a one-room or two room school-house. There was an outhouse out back or if the area was very progressive, an indoor bathroom.

Look at the clothes. The dresses might be made from printed feedsack material sewn on a Singer sewing machine. On wash day, a wringer washing machine made life easier than the previous generation’s washtub and scrub board. If you had young children, there were no disposable diapers or diaper services. Those stinky cloth diapers had to be washed too. Everything was hung out on the clothesline even in freezing weather.

From our family album, a 1930s picture. My mother is the littlest girl standing in the doorway. The others are her cousins.  Teterville, Kansas

From our family album, a 1930s picture. My mother is the littlest girl standing in the doorway. The others are her cousins.
Teterville, Kansas

Most of your food was grown at home and preserved by canning. Putting a meal on the table might involve catching the chicken, wringing its neck and plucking the feathers before you cooked it.

A wood stove in the living room heated the house. Cutting and stacking the wood in preparation for the winter was laborious. The stove didn’t heat the whole house very well, so in the morning frost coated the insides of the bedroom windows.

Many of my mother’s stories of her childhood are lovingly nostalgic, but would she have wanted to go back to a time without modern conveniences? Would you? Tell me your feelings on this.

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4 thoughts on “L is for Living in the Good Old Days

  1. I can’t believe I used to idealize that kind of life, and wanted to go back in time to the 18th or 19th century so I could do stuff like make all my food and clothes from scratch, live in a log cabin, and travel by horse-drawn carriage. That was back-breaking hard work, and without modern medical advancements. Of course, today we have crunchier than thou zealots who think life was awesome in those days, who have no idea what it was like to live in a world without modern medicine.

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  2. I was born in 1946, but in the city and my parents were also born in the city so the feed sacks and outhouse did not apply. They did have ice boxes and ringer washers and coal burning furnaces.

    My husband and I lived on 5 acres in rural Mississippi in the 1970s. We had an outhouse. Much prefer indoor plumbing. Killed chickens, I did that 1 time and left the murder of chickens to him. I used cloth diapers with my kids in the 1970s and 1980 and it wasn’t bad, rinse them and wash. I didn’t have a dryer until the early 1990s. In warm weather I hung stuff outside. In the winter I hung sheets in the basement (wood burning furnace) or strung lines across the kitchen (wood burning stove) and hung them there – lots of diapers. I would like to hang my clothes out here in good weather but haven’t put a clothesline up yet. We cook from scratch, make muffins, biscuits or bread. But don’t have a garden any more because this lot is too shady. When a few more trees fall down, we will. Oh, we had goats for some years along with the chickens and milked them. By the time we headed back to town, I was so glad to see them go!

    I like being able to pick and chose which conveniences to keep and which to do without.

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    • I always thought I’d like to go back to the land in the 1970s. Faithfully, I read Mother Earth News and dreamed of composting and growing our own food. We never did follow that dream, but I’m sure it would have been a lot harder than expected, even though I also grew up in the country with wringer washers, chickens/cows/pigs and all that. Like you, I wouldn’t want to give up indoor plumbing.

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  3. Pingback: A Comment on Mom’s Book | Discovering Mom

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