I’ve been reminded several times over the past weeks that I have an “unusually old” grandmother. She’s 91 which is pretty old, alright. She was born in 1917, which means the changes she has seen in her lifetime are amazing. She was born into a household with no electricity or indoor plumbing. By the time she was married in 1940, things had changed mightily. Their new “modern” age, however, was nothing compared to what we have now. What lessons can we learn from these changes? Let’s take a look.
Her own car
Grandma was married in 1940, but she didn’t learn to drive until 1943. So if she needed something from the store in the middle of the day when my grandfather was at work, she had to get on her MULE and go into town. Needless to say, this was more trouble than it was really worth, so she had to plan very carefully and make sure anything she might need from the store was bought when her husband took her to town on Saturdays.
Plan carefully. My grandmother taught me the most important step of baking is to make sure you have everything you need before you start.
Central heat and air
Every time we watch A Christmas Story, my dad laughs at the part where the dad is downstairs cursing at the furnace. Dad tells me about things called “clinkers” which is apparently leftover junk from the coal they used to heat their house. Heating a house back in those days took work. Needless to say, they didn’t keep their home at the toasty warm temperatures we generally keep our homes at today.
Do you really need to keep your house as warm as it is? Can you put on a sweater and set the temperature a few degrees lower? Save even more money by using a programmable thermostat to keep the house cooler while you aren’t home or as you sleep.
My grandma didn’t get a dishwasher until my uncle was old enough to stand at the sink. Seriously, though, she never did have an automatic dishwasher. I suppose to someone who had to use a pan of water heated on the stove as a child, just having a modern sink was pretty fabulous. She always had to make sure her dishes didn’t pile up or else she was in for a long time of washing, drying, and putting away.
Don’t let your dishes pile up. Just because you can knock all your dishes out with a load or two from the dishwasher doesn’t mean you need to let your dishes pile up. Clean as you go and you’ll have an easier time cleaning up.
Just this morning, I peeked into my mom’s refrigerator and saw leftover bacon. I’m always amazed at people who can have things like leftover bacon, since the locusts at my house can wipe out a package of bacon in 11 seconds flat. I popped the bacon in the microwave and in just a few seconds, I was enjoying tasty, tasty bacon. In my grandma’s day, there was no such thing as a microwave for fast and tasty leftover bacon. She’d have to wait while the oven heated and wait again while her food cooked.
How much snacking do we do because we are spoiled with unlimited access to fast snacks? If we had to go through all the trouble my grandma did to have a tasty snack, we’d probably skip that tasty snack. Make a rule: The microwave is only for non-snack items.
Washing Machines (as we know them)
My grandma had in her basement one of those old fashioned wringer washing machines (just like the one in our header). I was always fascinated with it when I was a kid. She told me to be grateful for the washing machines we have today. This might be the single most time saving invention for housewives. Laundry used to be an entire day of hard, hard labor. And then you’d get to spend the next day ironing. Fun for all.
Be grateful that we have such a time saving device. I know a lot of people hate doing laundry, but how much more awful would it be if we didn’t have the machines we have today to save us time and labor?
Of course, I could go on all day with things my grandma didn’t have that we do- the internet, cell phones, etc, etc, etc. It makes me very glad to live in the times we do.
Tell me, home-eccers, what’s one modern invention you could not possibly live without?