Take Another Look at the "Good Old Days"

Blog photos. Life in 1910. 5.24Some people wish they lived in "simpler times." They picture themselves reclining on couches or sitting on cool wraparound porches, sipping cool lemonade. 

It must have been idyllic, they tell themselves. But was it?

Maybe not. Years ago our family visited a museum where I picked up a small souvenir parchment, an exact copy of one pioneer mother's laundry instructions to her soon-to-be-married daughter.  

Mama's Wash Receipt

1.  Bild a fire in back yard to heet kettle of rain rater.

2.  Set tubs so smoke won't blow in eyes if wind is pert.

3.  Shave one hole cake of lie sope in bilin water. 

4.  Sort things. Make three piles. 1 pile white, 1 pile cullord, 1 pile work britches and rags. 

5.  Stir flour in cold water to smooth, then thin down with bilin water. 

6.  Rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, then bile. Rub cullord, but don't bile--just rench and starch.

7.  Take white things out of kettle with broom handle, then rench, blew and starch.

8.  Spred tee towels on grass.

9.  Hang old rags on the fence. 

10. Pore rench water on flower bed.  

11. Scrub porch with hot soapy water.

12. Turn tub upside down.

13. Go put on clean dress--smooth hair with side combs.

14. Brew cup of tea--set and rest and rock a spell and count yer blessings.

(Do you still want to swap your automatic washer and dryer for the "romance" of living long ago?)    

Let's not stop with laundry

A friend sent this to me, assorted random facts from 1910:

♦ Average life expectancy for men: 48 years

♦ Old Glory featured only 45 stars

♦ Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea had not been invented  

♦ Official Mother's Day or Father's Day? Not then

♦ The bra would not be patented until 1914 

♦ Two out of every 10 adults couldn't read or write and only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school

♦ The process to flash-freeze food was patented in 1924 by Clarence Birdseye

♦ Only 14 percent of all U.S. homes had a bathtub

♦ Penicillin not discovered until 1928

♦ Just 8 percent of homes had a telephone

♦ The first voice and music signals heard were transmitted over radio waves in December 1906

♦ The ballpoint pen invented in 1944 

♦ There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads in the USA

♦ The maximum speed limit in most places: 10 mph

♦ Tallest structure in the world: the Eiffel Tower

♦ Average US wage in 1910 only 22 cents per hour

♦ The average US worker earned between $200 and $400 per year

♦ The calculator invented in 1970 

♦ More than 95% of all births took place at home

♦ 90 percent of all doctors had no college education 

♦ Sugar cost about 4 cents per pound

♦ Eggs sold for about 14 cents a dozen

♦ Coffee was 15 cents a pound

♦ 18% percent of households had at least one full-time servant

♦ There were about 230 reported murders in the entire U.S.

♦ Most women washed their hair only once a month and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo

♦ Underarm deodorant and toothpaste did not exist

♦ The five leading causes of death: 1. The flu, 2. Tuberculosis, 3. Diarrhea, 4. Heart disease, 5. Stroke

Obviously, there were no microwaves, no cell-phones, no internet, no social media. 

One centenarian's opinion

Over four decades ago my grandmother, who at the time lived in an assisted-living facility, celebrated her 100th birthday. (She lived to be 101.) The local small-town newspaper sent a female reporter to interview her. This proved a bit frustrating for the young woman.

It seems Grandma peppered her with questions about how she managed her life as a wife, the mother of two preschoolers, and also worked for the newspaper. Through all this the reporter kept asking, "I do enjoy talking with you, but please, won't you tell me about the good old days?"

Finally, Grandma replied. "Well, the good old days weren't so great. You wouldn't have liked 'em much."

Not a bad role model for living, I'd say

As you might guess, I love Grandma's answer and I think it's a good attitude for any of us to hang onto as the years pass. After all, don't the experts keep telling us we need to "live in the moment"?

So let's make the most of today, as the psalmist advised us in Psalm 118:24, here from the ESV:

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

 Here's to loving the life we have in the day we are living!


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