~ Readers recall what life was like before modern conveniences. ~
Happy With Some Modern Conveniences
I laughed when I read your Heart of the Home request for stories about life before modern conveniences. You see, I’m 81 years old and live in an old log house in the country. But wait, there’s more.
I have never owned an automatic washing machine. My 1970s washer pushes up to the sink. I do have a portable electric dryer, though, because we get too much snow during our cold Wisconsin winters to hang clothes outside on a line.
Growing up, we washed our clothes in a wringer washer on the back porch. We had to heat the water and then cut up cakes of lye soap to add to it. Next we ran the clothes through the wringer, rinsed them in a big washtub, and hung them up to dry on the clothesline. And since nearly everything was made of cotton, after the clothes dried, they had to be ironed.
Keeping in touch
Our first telephone was a wooden monster that hung on the wall. There were several people connected to our phone line, and each family had a different ring. To make a call, we used a ringer that connected us with an operator who would connect our outgoing calls. The telephone I use today is much smaller, but it is still a land-line telephone – and it has an answering machine. I still don’t own a cell phone.
Being employed in an office for more than 50 years, I started out on a manual typewriter, then upgraded to an electric typewriter. Eventually we started using computers, and I decided then that after I retired I would not own a computer. However, I did get a word processor, but I still write many letters in longhand for friends.
My grandmother had an icebox that held ice and foods that needed to be kept cold, and she cooked on a kerosene stove. She could bake made-from-scratch cakes in her stove-top oven, without heat controls or a timer, better than I can in my electric oven.
Years ago, it was not uncommon for a family to own only one car. Some families didn’t even own one. Back then, teenagers rode bicycles or walked where they needed to go. They didn’t have their own car, and they didn’t borrow the family car.
Since we had no indoor plumbing, we used an outhouse, complete with catalog pages for “toilet paper.” On Saturday nights, we took turns bathing in a galvanized washtub.
My family never had air conditioning. In fact, I have never lived in a house that had air conditioning. I did have a car with air conditioning, which I only bought because I had an English bulldog who loved to ride in the car, but couldn’t stand the heat.
My old log house is not modern. It has no closets and very little cabinet space. Something is always breaking down, but I love it. It’s where I plan to live out my remaining years on Earth. The house is surrounded by woods, where wildlife is abundant, and colorful birds frequent the feeders around the property. I am happily living in God’s country with a few, but not all, of today’s modern conveniences.
Florence – Rhinelander, Wisconsin
[ repost: http://www.cappersfarmer.com/humor-and-nostalgia/good-ol-days-heart-of-the-home-july-august-2011 ]