Sunday, May 12, 2013

Memories From Another Era

Memories from another era have been stimulated for me recently as I've been enjoying conversations with some delightfully alert elders.    A jazz aficionado gentleman recounted contact in the U.S. and Europe with numerous musicians of that genre's royalty.    A lovely lady only a few years shy of having lived for a century talked of changes through her lifetime that we both marveled over as she recalled West Coast life and I was reminded of my mother's early Midwest years.  

These time-tempered, elders observed that a positive outlook and attitude toward life, with a strong emphasis on humor, have been important contributing factors to their longevity which was true for my mother and is significant in my life.   I shared the following on Mother's Day in 2008 which I've edited slightly, plus I've provided additional links to some interesting sites. 

Mother, I wish you could experience the world today. You always said you had no fear of dying, but would be reluctant to go only because you didn't want to miss anything. I share your view.  You saw much change in your lifetime. I think of you and these thoughts of your first twenty-one years come readily to mind.

born in the nineteenth century
horse and buggy days
daughter of a prosperous farmer
fence lines clear of weeds
indicating a good farmer

father performed outdoor chores
matching work horse pair
plowing, harrowing, disking,
cultivating, planting
grain, corn and garden

threshing parties
sheaves of oats, barley and wheat,
corn shucking,
hay raking,
fork tossing hay in mow

raising chickens and ducks
roosters, hens, drakes
cows with calves
pigs with piglets
sheep with lambs

harvesting crops
root cellar storage
butchering and dressing meats
milking the cows
collecting honey, beeswax

pets and progeny
mares with foals
mouser cats with kittens
herder/guard dogs with puppies
chicks and ducklings

mothers work indoors
wood stove for cooking
baking bread
bearing and raising children
nursing the ill

food preservation and canning
apple, cherry, peach trees
blackberry, gooseberries
jams, jellies
herb collection like mint leaves

gathering eggs
cream separating
making cottage cheese
churning butter
making smearcase

sewing and mending
pattern and dress making
yarn for knitting, crocheting, tatting
quilting designs, stitching, needle point
hooking rugs

recitation of poetry
story telling using elocution skills
piano playing and singing
games, riddles, reading, writing
stereoscopes and pictures

candles to electricity
hand pump priming for well water
eventual party line phone
two longs and a short ring
outdoor plumbing - two or three holer

children's playhouse
curtains, tea set
miniature furniture
china head dolls
dressing cats and kittens

winter's heavy woolen clothes
dry cleaning non-existent
deodorant yet to be
large tubs, spit baths

playing church piano and organ
dating mostly for church social functions
breaking rules by sneaking off with date to go dancing
coming home snuggled under blankets in horse drawn buggy
horse required no guidance -- always knew the way home

automobiles becoming more prevalent
(autombile museums U.S.)
airplanes more prominent
(aviation museums U.S.)

family, friends, classmates,
boyfriends, neighbors die
Influenza Pandemic of World War I
Influenza Epidemic of 1918World War I

passing the proficiency exam
requirement for high school attendance
moving into town to live with a family - providing
them household services in exchange for room and board
high school graduation

acceptance and enrollment in "Normal School"
graduation after two years
teaching in one room school house
women given the right to vote 1921
mother legal age that year -- always voted thereafter.


  1. Memory provoking!

    "fence lines clear of weeds"

    In later years, farmers were encouraged to leave weeds in the fence lines to provide habitat for the wild creatures.

    My parents' generation was the last, in our family, to lose children before age 1 (they lost two). That's enough reason for me to not miss the good old days.
    Cop Car

    1. That's a good example, Cop Car, of how the change in good farming criteria has changed through the years as scientific knowledge and attitudes have with new information. Farming by generations after my grandfather's time began to use lots of chemicals on their crops just as antibiotics have been fed cattle, but many concerns have arisen about such practices in later years.

      Sorry about the loss of siblings in your family. Infant mortality today in the U.S. has garnered significant interest when rates here are compared with other nations which is reported here:

      Progress through the generations in many instances has several facets -- there can be desirable aspects of life that are lost just as there are different but positive benefits gained. I would not wish to return to previous decades but there have been elements in some of them I find appealing -- under the right circumstances.

  2. It is true, when you think of what people who are close to 100 have seen in their lifetimes, it is amazing. I am not that old but already I think I saw many changes- when I was a wee child in Paris, France, I can still remember some merchants carrying their wares in buggy with horses. I can also remember the liberation of Paris from the German and so much more.

  3. Like your mother, I want to stick around to see what happens next. We have seen big improvements in family life, at least for our family.