Good Ol’ Days: Strength Gained Through Hard Work

~ Readers recall what life was like before modern conveniences. ~

When I was a child, many families in our rural area were poor. My family had no electricity and no indoor plumbing. We also didn’t have a car, but we were blessed to live within walking distance of the school, the church, and the little country store.

Times were tough before modern conveniences. I’m sure everyone agrees they would never want to go back to life without electricity, indoor plumbing and running water.

Nothing was easy

The men farmed and worked in sawmills or log woods, cutting wood with a crosscut saw. The days were long, and the work was hard. My dad used to say he worked all day in the log woods, and then came home and had to chop wood for the family to burn in the fireplace and the wood stove. My dad was a strong man, as were most men back then.

Our water was drawn from a well in our yard, and carried to the house in a bucket. On wash day, during warm weather, water was heated in a big kettle over a fire, and then carried to the washtub. The clothes were scrubbed on a washboard, rinsed in clean water and hung on the clothesline to dry. When it was cold outside, the wash was done in the kitchen, and the clothes froze when we hung them on the line outside to dry.

Strength Gained Through Hard Work: Back in the days before running water, people got their water from a well. Krasnikova


Women made almost all of their family’s clothing on a treadle sewing machine. Some of the better seamstresses could even take old hand-me-downs and turn them into nice “new” clothes. In addition, women also sewed quilt tops from scraps, and then either hand-quilted or tied them together. The quilts were not fancy, they were instead made to keep families warm on cold winter nights.

Raised food

Grandma raised chickens and traded eggs at the country store for items she couldn’t grow on the farm – sugar, salt, flour, baking powder, and occasionally cloth or underclothes. We also raised hogs, and nothing was wasted when the hogs were butchered. Select cuts were stored in the smokehouse until needed, the heads were made into souse meat, and the lard was rendered for cooking.

Almost all of our food was grown on the farm, and Grandma was a great cook. She made delicious green beans and potatoes in a cast-iron pot, and she baked up some tasty cornbread and biscuits.

Grandma and my aunt also canned vegetables from the garden, and Grandma made sauerkraut in a churn. As a special treat, Grandma would sometimes make blackberry cobbler for the family, and it was greatly appreciated and welcomed.

Grateful for change

I’m 80 years old now, and I’m thankful for all the modern conveniences we have today. I love my washer and dryer, I thoroughly enjoy my microwave, and I don’t know what I would do without my refrigerator to keep food from spoiling. Oh, and there’s also the indoor plumbing convenience, which is certainly something to be grateful for.

Willodean – Allardt, Tennessee

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