What Your Grandmother Knew…


One evening a grandson was talking to his grandmother about current events.

The grandson asked his grandmother what she thought about the computer age, and just things in general.

The Grandmother replied,

Well, let me think a minute, I was born before television, penicillin, polio shots, frozen foods, Xerox, contact lenses, Frisbees and the pill.

There were no credit cards, laser beams or ball-point pens.

Man had not yet invented pantyhose, air conditioners, dishwashers, or clothes dryers.

Clothes were hung out to dry in the fresh air and man hadn’t yet walked on the moon.

Your Grandfather and I got married first, and then lived together.

Most every family had a father and a mother.

Until I was 25, I called every man older than me, “Sir.”

And after I turned 25, I still called policemen and every man with a title, “Sir.”

We were before dual careers, daycare centers, and group therapy.

Our lives were governed by the Ten Commandments, good judgment, and common sense.

We were taught to know the difference between right and wrong and to stand up and take responsibility for our actions.

Serving your country was a privilege; living in this country was a bigger privilege.

Having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your cousins.

Time-sharing meant time the family spent together in the evenings and weekends -not purchasing condominiums.

We never heard of FM radios, tape decks, CD’s, smartphones, or video games.

We listened to Big Bands, Jack Benny, and the President’s speeches on our radios.

The term ‘making out’ referred to how you did on your school exam.

Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, and instant coffee were unheard of.

We had 5 &10-cent stores where you could actually buy things for 5 and 10 cents.

Ice-cream cones, phone calls, rides on a streetcar, and a Pepsi were all a nickel.

And if you didn’t want to splurge, you could spend your nickel on enough stamps to mail one letter and two postcards.

You could buy a new Ford Coupe for around $700, but who could afford one?

Too bad, because gas was 11 cents a gallon.

In my day, “grass” was mowed, “coke” was a cold drink, and “pot” was something your mother cooked in.

“Hardware” was found in a hardware store and “software” wasn’t even a word.

No wonder people call us “old and confused” and say there’s a generation gap.

My, how the world has changed…

Grandparents and the elderly have a very different view of our world than today’s young and middle aged. Many valuable and common sensible things can be learned from them.

Your grandparents may also have good advice of their experiences and lessons learned from the Great Depression.

This looks like a neat idea to leave on for your grandkids:
Memories for My Grandchild: A Keepsake to Remember (Grandparent’s Memory Book)

What are some of your memories of lessons learned or stories told?


  1. My folks were raised during the depression. They knew how to garden, preserve their harvest by canning, smoke/cure their meat, worked hard for everything they had. They taught their children there is no free pass in life. You must earn what you want. Depend upon yourself not the government. They grew up in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

    Moved to California in 1938 looking for work and during WWII worked in the defense industry around the Bay Area. After the war they settled down and raised us kids. Their values never changed. They did their best to ensure we children had an education and the basic skills to survive out on our own (which was after graduating from High school).

    I went into the Air Force in 1964 – retired in 1984 as Master Sergeant.
    I can say it was trying at times, but sticking it out through to the end.
    Yes I called my superiors “Sir.” Some of which did not deserve that address. Now I say “Sir” Only to those who have earned my respect.

    I taught my daughters about mechanics, firing weapons, gardening, canning and making food stretch (spaghetti can be eaten more than one night if you preserve it). Mac and Cheese can be a main course if that is all you have. In college they learned more valuable lessons about themselves, I think, than they leaned from the classes. Both are fine women now and I must say they have backbone, hard heads and won’t be pushed around.

    So I feel assured that my wife and I did our job as a father and mother.

    Grannie and Grandpa have passed on but their lessons stayed and are being used to this day.

    1. Very well done, indeed, MSgt. Thank you for your service. Coming from a military family, I know well the sacrifices that entails.

      My grand parents were young adults during the great depression and my parents were kids, so I have heard MANY a story about those terrible times and what people had to do to get by. Making and making do were the watchwords of the day back then. But the main thing was to be strong, tough, and independent. That was what served those folks best. But they never failed to give a helping hand to neighbors or to repay that sort of kindness as soon as they could either. There’s a special joy that comes to those who bring a couple of large sacks of fresh garden produce to a friend or neighbor who is having a difficult time of making ends meet. Friendship was not something that anyone took lightly back then. When a friend needed help, the entire neighborhood would show up to do what was needed. The men worked hard while the women cooked a meal for everyone. Some things really were sacred back then. A man’s word and handshake were as good as any written contract. Honor and integrity were part and parcel of being a man. And above all was faith as solid as a stone.

    2. My father grew up during the depression on a chicken farm. Life was always hard for him and his five siblings. They would have to care for the ten thousand chickens they had every morning before school. But they did so without complaint.when the depression hit, didn’t affect them much as they tried to be as self sufficient as they could be and they bartered chickens for items they needed. Being Christians, they took in, helped, employed city dwellers who knocked on their door seeking help. Times have changed. As we know fewer people are self reliant right now and people are less neighborly, less willing to help. Whats in store for us, his descendants is much worse, it will not end well. God bless us all.

  2. This could be my story. I am 62. I remember going to school and standing in line for the polio vaccine on sugar cubes. We watched the first space launch on a black and white Television (TV didn’t come till later) that a teacher brought in. We had Weekly Reader in 5th grade and learned to speed read from it. Life was much simpler then. Doors were left unlocked and windows open in Houston. No air-conditioners in the schools.

  3. I can recall a doctor coming to our house to give a sick kid (me) a shot. My mom was a divorced single parent raising 2 kids back in the 50’s before there was any sort of special support from society for that cause. She worked hard and never had an attitude or resentment or victimhood, always cheerful and looking on the bright side. We didn’t know we were poor. I asked her a couple of years ago if our absent dad had paid for our medical bills or for insurance. She said we didn’t have insurance, we just went to the doctor and paid the bills. I now have a family plan the the same clinic and if I had to pay the full cost out of pocket it would be well over $1000.00 a month. Medical care has come a long ways, but a lot of bad has come in with the good. Society as a whole was much more humble back then. That’s why things went so much better.

    1. Dave, I too, remember doctor’s house calls. It cost $8 for a house call but only $6 for an office visit. But since we didn’t have a car, we had to opt for the house call if someone was really sick. We didn’t pay at the time of the house call, but would get a monthly bill and my parents would pay a little at a time when they could. Hospitals charged $7/day for a semi private room. When I had to go to the hospital when I was 7, they took me out of the semi-private room and put me in a ward because my parents couldn’t afford the $7/day.

      We didn’t have television. Our radio was huge and full of tubes and such.

      Telephones were wired to the wall — no wireless phones and no extensions to other areas of the house unless we wanted to pay extra. All calls not to the Town of Boulder where I lived were local calls. Calls to Longmont or Denver where my mother’s relatives lived were long distance and the Ma Ball charged by the minute. Remember “person to person” and “station to station” calls?

      Oh yes, there were ration cards for sugar, meat, gasoline, and I don’t remember what else. Everybody had a victory garden in their yard.

      1. I remember those radios and their tubes too. The local market had a tube testing machine, so if the radio went out, Dad would take out the tubes most likely to go bad and down to the market we would go. The tube testing machine always found the bad tube, we got a new one of that type, and the radio was good to go for another few months.

        We even had a telephone party line at one point, with different rings for different houses. Of course, everyone seemed to have at least one nosy neighbor who listened in on all of the calls. The NSA handles that these days.

        The polio vaccine was a fantastic thing back in the day. It arrived too late to help me but everyone was so thrilled when it came out. A great many children and young adults had their bodies and their lives destroyed by that dreaded disease. Today, it is rare for anyone to know someone who had polio. This is a fine thing. God bless those who found a vaccine for this and other diseases that have plagued mankind for thousands of years.

        1. Ed,

          I remember those tube testers at the local drug store, too. They also had them for television after tv came to our town, around 1952, I think, though we didn’t get one until I was in junior high.

          I also remember party lines. Ours was a 4 party line. No dial phones. You picked up the phone and an operator said, “Number please.”

          I get from your post that you are a polio survivor, too. I had it when I was 18 months old and recovered, but now I suffer from Post Polio Syndrome. Not as badly as some, but if I fall down, I can’t get back up from the floor by myself.

        2. I have an old Recordio in the basement that belonged to my great-grandfather, circa 1930. We even have a box of the recordable disks. But it doesn’t work (everything appears to work but there’s no sound on the disks after recording) so I pulled it apart to see if I could figure out what was wrong. That was the first time I’d seen any of those tubes!

  4. I think one of the biggest differences between then and now (yeah, I’m Grandma) is the family ‘village’. Back then we didn’t have welfare and food stamps, mostly because families took responsibility for their members who needed help. We didn’t have day care centers because Grandma watched all the kids while parents worked. And Grandma didn’t just watch the kids, she taught us to cook, garden, and care for animals. She took us to church. She taught us respect and responsibility.

    Our Elders were WISE, and we learned from them.

    It’s not like that anymore, and any progress we have made as people is diminished by our lack of care and respect for our family members.

  5. I was born in 1947. I remember steam engines, my dads 1948 Dodge, trips to the hardware store was fun, I got to look at the rifles and pistols behind the counter and my dad buying my .22 Savage rifle for my 10th birthday. He took me rabbit hunting that day but we didn’t see any. I’ll never forget the fun it was being with dad. He’s long gone now, but the memories never die. Now a kid carrying a gun is cause for alarm in most locations,so sad they won’t have the joys I did..

    1. You got that right, BigGuy. Heck, when I was 11, I took a shooting class at school and brought my single shot .22 rifle to school on the bus once a week. Nobody thought a thing of it. Dad had one of his talks with me about it, impressing me with the fact that a rifle was dangerous and that I needed to be careful with it and respectful of others. There was never a problem of any kind. I knew that if there was, I would lose the rifle for a good long time! Dad and I hunted rabbits from time to time and also went fishing too. Those were some of the best times of my life and I will always remember them. That’s what is truly precious in this life… fond memories of good times spent with our loved ones. We know that these are the true wealth of this world because we CAN take them with us when we leave it.

      1. Speaking of guns in school. When I was in 8th grade my shop teacher helped me do repairs and reblue my 20g shotgun. I carried it to the bus stop and home each night. It never entered anyone’s mind that it was a bad thing to do. We had target practice in high school down in the basement. My, how things have changed.

        God Bless us all.

        1. Yeah, the worst thing you got in trouble for was having a switch blade knife. It was a no no. You were a real trouble maker hoodlum if you had a switch blade!

  6. The big thing for storing food now is dehydrating with dehydrators; I remember when my grandmother used the solar method!!
    Blanket, tin roof, screening, sunshine!!!

    Peaches, apples, and apricots. NOT to be eaten till winter.

    1. One set of my grandparents ‘followed the crops’, and a couple of seasons I went with them. Gramma was a pro at the dehydrating tables, so that’s what she mostly did. I remember eating a lot of fresh apricots, peaches and plums, but the real treat was having those fruits, dried, in the middle of winter.

      We stayed in tents and had a very small cast iron stove for heat and cooking. I have a small burn scar on my leg to this day from that little stove after brushing against it when I was 7 years old.

  7. I remember black and white tv with a roof antenna and you got 5 channels. The phone was a rotary dial and you were on a party line. I remember hearing the word paper towels and had no clue as to what they were. I remember thinking who would want a towel made of paper? Paper plates the same thing. It would get ruined the first time you used it. My parents used handkerchiefs. My parents didn’t believe in disposable anything except TP.

    1. 5 channels, wow where did you live? 3 was all you got in Tenn. then came PBS and low and behold VHF. It was a miracle.

      1. At that time we lived in a small town but it was halfway between Boston and New York. I think that is why we had 5 channels. 3, 8, 24, 30, and 40. I’m surprised that I remembered those numbers.

        1. Well PC than you should remember the test pattern that came on after they finished broadcasting for the day. Ah memories, we will enjoy them.

    2. 5 channels we had 2 till PBS and TP we had the sears cataog in the outhouse

    3. We had 3, and that was with the tinfoil and a coat hanger on the rabbit ears!

    4. In Indiana we had channels 15,21, & 33. Heaven forbid you spun the changer to fast and striped the gears…. I remember watching the Apollo 11 landing on a B&W TV. Practicing ducking under the desk in “63 as well as the “party” line. My phone number was 6335R

  8. We had a party line too, kinda funny to think about it now. I miss my grandparents. They recycled or reused everything. I pulled more weeds by the time I was 6 then most people pull in a lifetime. Spent hours heading and tailing bushels of beans, or shelling peas. My great-grandmother could clean a rabbit at lightening speed and turn a few simple things into a gourmet meal. Grocery shopping consisted of mainly making the other farm rounds for things we didn’t have, or things we could trade for. At one farm we got eggs and milk, and my grandmother got her hair done there too.

    Our big vacations were to make the 3 hr trip to Chicago to go to the museums. Life was so much simpler back then.

  9. Like you, BigGuy, I was also born in 1947 and yes, I got my own rifle for my 10th birthday. As I recall, that seemed to be pretty common back then. It was a single shot .22 bolt action from one of the major department stores, probably Sears or Montgomery Wards. The folks used a .22 rifle for hunting squirrels out in the countryside in NE Oklahoma.

    As a child, we spent quite a bit of time at grandma’s house. Her home was located in Barnsdall, OK., a small town outside of Tulsa. She maintained a garden behind the house. She called it a “Victory Garden.” She also had a number of fruit trees and as I recall, harvested plums, peaches and apricots. I especially remember the cousins throwing apricots at one another just for fun. She canned a lot of vegetables and fruit and kept some in the root cellar that also served as a storm shelter.

    Grandma raised chickens for fresh meat and eggs. After the “harvest”, it was into a pot of hot water and then the bird was plucked clean of feathers. It was amazing how quickly and efficiently she could accomplish that task. Chicken was usually fried and served with lots of mashed potatoes and corn. Yummy peach pie was a common dessert. I can clearly recall many great meals with the extended family present at grandma’s table.

    Grandma had a water well just outside the kitchen door. It was operated by a hand pump. I remember fetching buckets of water and bringing it in the house. That was just one of the fun chores the kids got to do.

    I suppose grandma and grandpa didn’t have a lot of money and had to watch what they spent. But we seemed to have everything we needed. Today, we’d probably call her one of the “preppers” of her time. But this was post depression America and that was just the way a lot of folks lived. She was certainly a survivor and I’m eternally grateful for everything my grandparents did for us. We learned a lot from them and didn’t even realize we were in school.

    Thanks for allowing me to share the memories.

  10. A young man asked me this question today
    Quote : “Who is Lady Di….Princess Dianna?”

    I looked sharply at him and then remembered the young man is only 14 years old.

    I said ” She was once one of the most famous women in the world and died young in a car crash”.

    More of an explanation would have required too much information.

  11. Its nice to see other old farts that grew up living from the land ! This is the first time I’ve been willing to post , all because of remembered life style’s . How many still use that knowledge gleaned from child hood ? After retirement I went back to living like I was brought up . Planted fruit tree’s , berry patches and a yearly garden , still can and put up food like I was taught . Biggest lesson I was taught was there’s nothing you cant do if you really want to ! Walked behind my dad while he hunted from age seven , at 13 I got my first gun . I think it was done out of self defense , he would come home from work to go hunt oops ! his gun , me , and the dog we’re gone until chore time . We raised everything on the farm and I was taught to depend on two things …. your own to hands !

  12. Have to admit, this is the first time I read this Article, really put a smile on my face :-)


    1. Homemade Root-Beer, little did I know it was 10% alcohol
      OMG Homemade Ice-cream, usually with fresh Peaches or Cherries, YUMMMMMMM
      My first HUGE glass of Wine got sick and everyone laughed at me.
      I remember hunting for Snapping Turtles HUGE ones, and no they do NOT taste like chicken.
      HAHAHA I remember getting beat-up on the School Bus, took 2 weeks to “get him back” but I did.
      TP-ing the neighbor’s house on Halloween; than having to clean up the mess
      I remember my Grand-maw’s house always smelling like fresh baked sweet-rolls

      A LOT of good-GREAT times, but I also remember a lot of the sad times also.

      Honestly I wish I knew 1/10 of what Grand-Maw knew about “making due” and living the (here I go again) Lifestyle.
      Grand-Maw and my parents just seemed to “know stuff” that I now strive to learn and to implement into my life, I fear that 99.99% of the knowledge is lost with our parents. What is going to happen if/when TSHTF hard!!?? as it did back ‘when’, MANY times.

      Ok I’m done…. HAHAHAHA

  13. My grandmother told me of how she immigrated to the United States through Ellis Island. She was just a girl of 13 but still remembered cooking in a big copper kettle on the boat (which we still have). She remembered the crash of ’29 but didn’t talk about it much. I wish I would have talked to her more about her memories and wrote them down. Unfortunately I learned their value way to late. I need to write down my memories for my children who aren’t interested now, but will be sometime in the future.

  14. My grandparents knew and saw a whole lot, they grew up in Hawaii long before it was a territory, before there was electricity here, and wayyyy before tourism became the industry of choice of the bureaucrats desiring a revenue stream.
    I wish we could go back, i and many many many like me feel the same way

  15. I had the opportunity of hearing many stories from my maternal grandfather. Although he has now passed, many of those stories are retained by my mom and her siblings. A lot have to do with hunting, frugality, and life on general, and I always quite enjoy hearing new ones.

    My paternal grandmother, on the other hand, was born in Germany during the 1930’s. She made it onto one of the last trains to leave Germany before they were shut down, and up until the last few years, she would never speak about that time. Therefore, I haven’t heard many preparedness-related stories from her, but I listen all the same, as many of those stories do detail some of our family’s history.

  16. Wow. memories. I had forgotten about tube testers. Also the phone being a 4 party line. Sugar cube polio shots, weekly reader and going to the school library where you bought a stamp that when you had filled the little book it was some sort of gov.bond??? How about penny candy and some of it was 2 for a penny. I also remember the boys bringing guns to shop class. Actually the high school I went to had a bomb shelter underneath and we all had a class shooting 22’s.

  17. A walk down memory lane for sure. One set of grandparents raised 14 children, I had a lot of aunts, uncles and cousins on one side. The grandfather was a carpenter building houses, cabinets, finished work. He also carved wood duck decoys to sell, all different types of birds, I was around 10 years old and would help build them, band saw rough cuts, hand tool shape, paint and etch feathers. Also built wood duck boats with him. He ran a same row boat rental (no outboards then) and a bait shop. He was a market hunter living in a duck boat for days, rowing 10-15 miles from the marshes to home, ride a bus to the big city to sell to restaurants. He taught my brother and I how to do carpentry, boat build, fish (ice and no ice), carve decoys (duck, goose, fish, hunt all types of game, trap (muskrat, mink, raccoons, fox, skunk-passed on skunks), fur preserve to sell. The other grandparents were descendants of farmers; hand cutting wheat, picking/shucking corn, grinding, milking cows, home pasteurization, chickens; taught me how to grow food and use what you take. How to take, clean and cook many types of fish, game, vegetable and fruits. My father was there every step of the way and taught me how to enjoy the efforts. My father was a top notch baseball pitcher (tried out for a MLB team but could not afford to leave the family, also a top basketball player). Taught me sports, sportsmanship, competition, winning and losing, how to focus and improve after losing. All of them found any subject, or conversation interesting to see if there was new knowledge, or just an enjoyment of being with people. I tried to pass on the knowledge, skill, enjoyment, values and attitudes to both daughters to give them some foundations, or framework, or enjoyable pursuits in life. I miss them all, but now it’s my turn to take the mantle of the “elder” who listens, helps, coaches and mentors the next generations. I like it.

  18. This was one of the reasons that the society was so stable for so long–kids were essentially raised by their grandparents, so the “old” values were passed on more easily. Now you have daycare and most of the caretakers are only a few years older than those they tend and could care less about passing on anything.

    1. Many good memories for sure.
      But the reality was they worked 10-12 hours a day and only had a couple of hours off on Sunday. The work they did came so naturally that it did not seem like work – milking, hog feeding and pen cleaning, haying, machine repairs, building repairs, gardening, …. it was a very long list – it was just called life.

        1. Usually that happens to me when I select a post to make a comment on, change my mind and do a general comment at the bottom of the page instead. The computer seems to keep a history so unless I hit “cancel reply” on the first then that’s the post it gets put under.

        2. I’ve noticed that a lot of comments don’t have a ‘reply’ tab under them. When that happens I just pick the last post that does have ‘reply’ at the bottom and hope it lands somewhere close.

        3. When the comment thread reaches 5 deep, there’s no more reply option. Otherwise the replies would get narrower and narrower making it increasingly difficult to read.

        1. Ya, most old time chores required daylight. But that damned rooster was hard to live with some mornings.

      1. Did all of the above as a kid, but enjoyed it. There was time to enjoy the animals, like horseback riding, so the care involved was just a part of it. The only thing I would never miss is milking. I absolutely love cattle, and mine were gentle and sweet, but milking before and after school was not fun, especially when feeling under the weather with the flu. By the way, keeping cattle was my choice, not a chore assigned by my parents. I enjoyed them, and as a teenager had quite a good income source from the cattle.
        My granny raised rabbits, chickens, goats and a garden to support her family. During WWII I don’t think they worried about ration cards.

  19. Tex,,,
    You have a good head on your shoulders bud, wish more folks were as grounded as yourself, things would be way different,

  20. Texas Boy;
    I believe your request is covered under the “Terms of Use” statement that can be found at the top of the page.
    Personally I would not care, I figure as soon as I hit that “Post Comment” on a comment, it’s is now owned by the NSA and Ken. :-)

  21. I had the great fortune of having both grandma’s and one grandpa when I was growing up. The grandma and grandpa had immigrated, grandpa through Ellis Island, Grandma through Canada following Grandpa. The other grandma was southern born and bred, there is talk of some Cherokee in the family but because girls weren’t registered in the censes we can’t be sure. But no matter, I have such memories and learmed so much. Some of what I learned was from the old ways, I prefer to think it came from the Cherokee great grandma.

    Being born in 1945 myself I know my parents lived through the depression. Mom was in Alaska and didn’t feel it as bad as Dad’s family, who were in centeral Texas. But my Texan grandma, Nanny, as we called her, had a huge garden and put food by, as she called it. She raised chickens for eggs and meat, I can still remember the food left from breakfast, biscuits or what ever, was covered with a dish towel in the center of the table and used for dinner. Their large meal was in the middle of the day and huge, supper was smaller and again made use of all the left overs.

    My Alaskan grandma raised rabbits and a large garden, she took in boarders and worked as a janitor for the school to make ends meet. Grandpa was a classic trained chef from the old country and was working in the logging camps cooking, his training stood him in well but was turned to more common fare. I still remember the bread, rolls, sponge cake and pies the two of them turned out. Grandma canned the excess for winter and they made do.

    My parents taught me to raise vegetables and to barter with farmers for what we didn’t raise, buy it in bulk then have a canning marathon. Dad even canned in the oven, not recomended I know but he did it every year with great success. To this day I make bread, can veggies, fruits and meat, not in the oven, but in the pressure canner. I am learning new skills like dehydrating, curing, smoking but the background foundation was laid down years ago and I am not afraid to give it a try.

    Hubby and I taught our boys to hunt, fish and plant. One married a gal who likes that, one not so much. But she could, if push came to shove. Their kids, only the hunting and fishing, perhaps some smoking but still not enough skills to “Make It”. However, if push comes to shove, I still have hope they could manage, at least they know the basics.

    I am afraid we are going to be a nation of people who don’t know how to take care of themselves, if we aren’t already. When those of us who have these skills are gone, what then? Perhaps the books that we leave behind and some adventurous folks will be able to hold things together but perhaps not. My prayers are for God’s will, it’s all I can pray for.


  22. Some great memories here from you all! Still have a working Hallicrafters S-40B shortwave from way back. Two of my grandparents were married for 76 years, but long since passed. When I compare the lessons learned from them to today, here’s what I notice: Back then it was humility, work ethic and independence- nowadays more arrogance, entitlement and economic slavery keeping up with the Joneses. Looking forward to a simpler life, and planning a retirement house of a whopping 1200 square feet. I’ll use the lessons from the past and from all y’all to remember what’s important and live it! That’s why I’m here. Thank you Ken for the thought provoking article!! :-)

  23. You can paraphrase it all. Just gleen the best nuggets and make your speech from that.

  24. My Dad raised a garden and Mom froze and canned everything she could. They tried to teach me these things and I didn’t pay much attention to them. Now that I’m an old and gray I am relearning those things and trying to teach my kids and grand kids. Dad started working on cars back in the days of the model T and I did pay attention when he taught me how to fix cars and other stuff. Dad would take me squirrel hunting with an old single shot 20 ga. I still have that gun and it is the pride of my collection even though the cash value is not that high. I was taught to have respect for others and do what I was told without argument, or else. Sir, Maam, please and thank you were required when speaking to adults.

  25. I remember my Grandparents on my Dad’s side well as they lived just up the road on the farm. Grandma would sit on the back porch and clean butternuts for her cookies and breads. She would pick dandelions in the yard for our salads. I would gather the eggs from the henhouse, always had lots of chickens. Stayed clear of her geese though as they would chase my brother and I and the slowest would come home with a welt on the back of the leg. I remember the smell of coal burning in the furnace. I am now living and raising my family on that farm. When I finish one of the many projects I undertake, I do pause and smile knowing Grandma and Pap very much approve of them. Great memories!

  26. What my Grandparents knew——-To watch and assess situations. —- To sometimes “leave things be” ———- To make do ———-To have the patience to wait for things. ——To smile and nod ……………….and then do what they felt/knew to be best for them/family.

  27. and Gay meant you were just happy! My Mammaw lived to be 101. Ate lard and Crisco in later years. Had nothing but real butter and cream. Eat skinless chicken are you kidding! There was lye soap and giant kettles of apple butter. The tobacco worms were killed by walking the fields with scissors. She and her sister road to school on a horse. Winter days in east Tennessee could be so cold when they got back home someone had to come and get them off the horse. They were so cold could not get down by themselves. Learned to drive when she was twelve and there were know automatic transmissions. All of the grains were grown local and milled up the road. Could go on and on. It is very cool that some of the folks on MSB still have the farms and very cool for those of you living it anew on a farm somewhere! I salute……

  28. Mr. paternal grandparents were Mennonites their ways are known. Came to America before it was a country for religious freedom.

  29. My great grandmother died at 101 years old and still had her mind intact,
    She used to tell my brother and i about the civil war, It was truly brother against brother, we have photo’s of her two brothers in different uniforms. One North one South both made it through the war, the union army came by and took one brother, then the southern army came thru and took the other one. they lived in Missouri they were preppers before preppers were cool.

  30. At the age of twelve I wanted to go deer hunting so bad it hurt to talk about. My Dad said I would have to earn the money to buy a rifle. Asked one of our family friends my father worked with (LASD) if he had any odd jobs he needed done. He wanted to know what was so important and I told him about deer hunting. He told me he had a deal for me and pulled out a box. In the box was a new Winchester 94 in 30/30. Only problem was it was in pieces as he had taken it apart and could not get it back together. He told me if I could put it together it was my new hunting rifle. Took two weeks for me get it working and for my Dad to test fire it at work. That first deer that year (1962) was the best tasting deer of my life. Folks taught us to work for what we wanted.

  31. Learned from my German Grandma how to make potato soup at a very early age. Came in handy later in life when I had to live off a 120# bag of potatoes one semester in mining school, potato soup for breakfast lunch and dinner! But what she really taught me was how to do with what you had. My folks were well off, but when she came to visit she would cook, and not waste a thing, everything that was not rotten went into the pot. Taught me how to transplant trees and grow potatoes. Thankfully I inherited her green thumb. She would tell me stories of ‘the Old Country’ , which for her was her birthplace in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania (Transylvania). They were “Auslander Deutsch” and never inter-married with the locals. She and her family were run out of their village during parts of WW1. Came to America in the 30s. My Mom told me that she would sit on the front porch and sob when she read about the Holocaust during WW2. She just could not believe “her people’ could do such a terrible thing. Helped give me my great faith in God, and love of nature. She was for me, the example of ‘An Elder’ that I model as I pass things on to my kids and grandkids now. She was what the Germans call a real “Mensch”.

  32. What a great topic. Its good to think back and remember those who went before us.

    My grandparents were born in the early 1900’s. My grandfathers came to Canada in the late 20’s. My paternal grandmother, dad and uncle came in ’38. My maternal grandmother, mother and uncle came in ’48.

    They had lived in small villages with no electricity, no running water, no schools and no doctors. Moving to a big Canadian city was a total shock to them.

    I remember helping to can fruit and pickles. They always had a garden and would go to what was then called “the Jewish market” to buy chickens etc. Once home, they had to clean them and then cook. One grandmother didn’t have a refrigerator until I started school. and didn’t get a wringer washer until the 60’s.

    After my mother and her mother died, my paternal grandmother raised me. Along with the usual things we learned from the older generation, my grandmother taught me when it was the best time to place curses on people and what to do to keep curses away from myself. Talk about a well rounded education!

    These days I try to live the lifestyle as NRP calls it. I do not place curses on people but I can’t seem to break the habit of wearing something to deflect curses whenever I go out. Some habits are really hard to break.

    1. I remember a story about my dad trying to help my mother by doing the laundry. They had a wringer washer. There were at least two little ones in diapers at the time, and there was no such thing as disposable diapers. So my father decided to wash the diapers and plastic pants. My mother said that he kept popping the plastic pants because he kept putting them through the wringer waist first.

  33. KK, you sparked a memory. As a kid I remember the Ice Man delivering a block of ice by carrying it into my grandparents “ice box” by a big set of tongs. The ice box was wood, the inside was tin sheeting with a big tray in the bottom to catch the drips. Also, a farmer would stop at your house with his pickup truck, you picked out what you wanted, it was weighed and you paid cash-apples, vegetables. Last, we had milk delivery by the milkman, who would walk into the house, place the milk in the refrigerator and take the empty bottles; we would say Hi, how’s the family. Those days are gone.

  34. My grandparents passed when I was quite young, but I have learned a lot from my MIL. She is British; a child during WWII. She was one of many young children shipped by train from the south to the north to avoid the bombing. She was taken with a large group to a rural area where all the farmers came to “town” and each family selected 1-2 children to take home. Although terrifying for her, she learned about farms, canning, etc…

    I think the biggest thing that stuck with her is that nothing goes to waste: washing and re-using “tin foil” (fears of contamination finally cured her of that), saving little bits of material and thread/yarn, hand-me-downs galore, buying re-furbished shoes for years (she’s over that one now), saving every imaginable container to be re-purposed in some way.

    We live in an era of everything being disposable these days – so many people are conditioned to just toss and replace – and fewer people actually know how to fix things these days. It will be a rude awakening for a lot of people if we had a real recession or serious shortages (let alone a war) where everything was not just waiting to be bought on store shelves (and I don’t just mean food).

    1. As I go through my Mom’s stuff I’m finding those little balls of yarn, about the size of a finger (or half a finger in some cases) and the tiny shreds of cloth she’d “repurposed” as pincushions. She’s always been this way, so it’s no surprise, but reading your post brought it back. Rolls of thread taken from the top of flour and sugar bags, the erasers off of used up pencils, ziplock bags that she washed and reused. She wasn’t a child of the depression herself, but she was raised by her grandparents who’d lived through it. It made an impression.

      1. Lauren,
        It must be interesting to keep stumbling on these little hidden bits of things here and there. I think it must have been so engrained in your Mom to hang on to everything… countless times growing up I heard own my mom and aunts say: “You never know, I might just need this” or the very common: “This might come in handy one of these days.”

        One of my aunts used to carry a massive purse (with countless pockets and little slots in it) everywhere she went. She was like a contestant on “Let’s Make a Deal”. I swear she could pull almost anything out of her bag upon request. It was truly amazing how much “stuff” she accumulated between her purse and her kitchen “junk” drawer.

        1. Oh, the junk drawers! LOL I’m cleaning out her sewing machine (the big one with its own table–she had three, plus the treadle) and I swear she never threw anything away. Rescued elastic, single buttons, even a bag of bra hooks for just in case. And the thread bobbins–very useful for a lot of things. :)

          I took care of the junk drawers months ago. Not so much cleaning out as organizing because most of what was in there stayed. The main difference is that I can find everything now. It’s amazing how much space you can find just by organizing.

          The fun part is that I keep finding little things she kept that I can put in my survival books. This week in a bag of yarn I found very basic (and well illustrated) instructions for learning to knit and crochet. Since she’d done both since she was a child, I can only figure she kept them for a later time, when those skills might be necessary.

  35. This is a great way to remember those times. My grandfather was orphaned at age 8, with many siblings farmed out. After some train hitchhiking, he eventually became a farmer who ended up being very successful. We had the first color TV within miles.

    Still I remember helping him irrigate the rows of cotton using the old metal tubes and ditches. I hoed a lot of weeds as a girl. There was no stores open on Sundays. We raised and ate our own chickens and peacocks. Slaughtered or sold our own pigs. Simpler times back then.

  36. How about the 1960’s bomb shelters with no doors. As you entered there were, I think about 3, 45 degree turns. I was told that radiation could not turn a corner. Hummm where is my desk to crawl under while I cover my head and kiss my bum goodbye!!!

    1. That is a very practical way to make an inexpensive bomb shelter. It only takes 3 feet of packed dirt to protect against radiation. A nice size root cellar dug into the side of a hill with a ZigZag entrance and you have a very useful rootcellar and a serviceable bomb shelter. Add amenities as you can afford.

      1. I will probably need a vent system. I imagine a hypo allergenic air filter should filter out any fine particles. I will have to do some research.
        Also if I was to build a rootcellar/ bomb shelter- dual use more cost effective- I would include a small bathroom with flush toilet hooked into the septic sytsem. If DW asked “What’s with the bathroom in the rootceller?” I’ll just tell her its for cleaning up when I’m coming in from the field. She would freak if she knew it was a bomb shelter!

  37. My Grandparents came west to Cali from The Cherokee Indian Reservation in Oklahoma. They worked as sharecroppers and later my Grandmother worked in the shipyards during WW2. I remember getting a bad cut on my hand when I was five, the Dr who stitched my up did so with a cigarette hanging from his mouth.
    Life was sure different even for those who are not so old.
    Best to all,

  38. My grandmother lived to be 100 years old and taught my older sister to sew. That was a wonderful time that both of them did together while we grew up. I was too young at the time to participate, but my sister was able to sew perfectly after learning from her.
    We didn’t live on a farm, but in a subdivision. We had 4 kids in the family and the girls and boys shared separate bedrooms. We had 1 bathroom and didn’t feel deprived. On a special occasion, we would have a coke or rootbeer float. That was a rarity.
    I used to take a nickel or a couple of pennies to the corner store which was about a mile away. We would walk with a few kids and I would love to get the penny candy. I would leave with a handful of candy and I thought I was so lucky to be able to go to the candy store. No one stayed in the house–my friends all rode bikes or played dolls outside. We only came in for dinner, which you never missed.

    1. 1961ish 5cinnamin dollors for a penny &11 licarice babies for a penny and we each had a hole dime, Do the math! I was about 6. A nickel was alot to kid then.
      We walked alone, we two through forests along road s cross country!

  39. I remember my Grandmother canning, cooking, sewing me dresses. My Grandfather always grew a garden and had beautiful roses in the back. He planted fruit trees, walnuts, berries and grapes on a farm that they then retired too. Grandma never wore pants and always had an apron unless she was going somewhere. Wisdom/knowledge is indeed invested in our elders. I learn how much I don’t know as I age and realize just how stupid I was as a teen/youngster. Todays young generation will have a severe learning curve if they survive a SHTF situation. Thanks to everyone that responded. It really brought back some good memories for me today. Also makes me think I still have much to learn. Yikes.

  40. My memories are of an English Grandmother trying her darnedest to teach me how to sew, knit and crochet (I was a BIG tomboy) Made all of grands hand made undies. I never got “store” bought undies til I was 10-11 years old . I remember learning my word was my bond, If you promise to do something , you’d better follow thru from my grandfather who was the chief negotiator for the auto company he was at once the union was established BEFORE it turned rotten. IF I started something I had to finish it, didn’t get an award or trophy for just showing up. There were winners and losers and you didn’t act like a spoiled brat if your team lost. I had a dozen or so “moms” that didn’t hesitate to swat my behind if I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to AND I’d get it when I got home from my mom or dad depending on the severity of wrong doing. Lord help you if you disrespected teacher, in my case the nuns, Mother Superior or the Father/Pastor of the church. yeah 12 years of Parochial school. It was How high as you were going up when told to do something, not whinnying about having to do your chores and there was NO allowances for doing said chores, it was expected of you to help the family. DH and I hope we weren’t as tough as that sounds but we’ve raised decent upstanding young men the way we were raised, who are raising (at least trying in the case of Son1,2 kids live with psycho ex) to raise decent upstanding children.

    1. When I was growing up we didn’t get an allowance either. The everyday chores were our duty pulling our own weight. Mom would occasionally offer us special jobs she wanted done. Usually for 50 cents. If you weren’t interested, that was fine. But a week or so later that job would be booted up to something Mom NEEDED us to do – and then there was no pay. Standing pay rate for grades in school: 10 cents for every A. 1 dollar for all A s & B s plus 10 cents per A. If you earned all A s you received 2 dollars plus 10 cents per A. However Any D s or E s and you got zero.

    2. Ever see our even better USE a Peg Loom? Pretty cool, even this clumsy male can recycle fabric scraps into rugs and such.

  41. Some things I remember about my grandmother when I was very young. I remember she wore full length dresses and a full apron when she work in the field with my grandfather, not to be stylish, rather so she could squat and take care of business without walking a distance to find privacy. She wore the apron not only for wiping hands, but also to cradle the peas and beans she would pick from those plants planted between the rows of corn, plus a few roasting ears of sweet corn before they matured to harvesting age for grain. I remember her sitting on the rear fender of the tractor when Pappy was cultivating cradling her .410 shotgun to take jackrabbits that would pop up in front of them. She did the washing in a tub, cooked meals on a wood cook stove, and did all the house work. When she developed Parkinson’s and could no longer do those things or even care for herself, my grandfather catered to her every need and took over her “duties” without a complaint that we ever heard. Taught everyone around them what being devoted to, and being in love with your mate really meant.

    1. I also remember both grandfathers wearing long sleeved shirts with the top button on then neck buttoned and sleeves always rolled down and buttoned, and wore wide brimmed straw hats when working the fields in the hot Texas summer sun. Grandmother wore a bonnet and long sleeved blouse. They never suffered the skin cancers I’ve been battling in my senior years. I’m guessing they never heard of UV rays and spf-factors.

  42. my wife was adopted but the women she called my grandma was straight out germany she came here in between ww1 and ww2 i only got to met this women ONCE but i wish to god i could have known her more just i could get her thoughts on what the old germans did in the old country and her side of history i may be a old man now but we can ALWAYS LEARN MORE

  43. We can also learn a lot about the old ways of doing things by learning from those still are doing things that way:

    I’m certainly not going to harvest ice from a body of water, however I do fill bottles of water from the tap and leave it outside in the sub-zero weather and let nature freeze it. Put into the refrigerator for a day, and repeat the process after it melts.

    1. Sorry Old Chevy I am confused by this comment. Your not going to harvest ice BUT you are going to freeze bottles of tap water for your fridge?

      The whole point of harvesting and storing ice in sawdust insulation is to provide ice cooling during the warmer months. If all you desire is winter cooling a simple controlled venting outside mounted box you can access from the inside of your home would do as well.

      I have used an Ice Box and the block of ice is pretty big compared to the area cooled by the ice. We are talking about the same volume as a 6 pack of 16 oz. water bottles for cooling an inside the insulated box volume of about 6 cubic feet by my measure of this icebox before me. And depending on how warm the ambient temperature and how much thermal challenge I give the ice with hot bowls of food etc. I would need a block every few days. Not too sure given how poorly modern refrigerators are insulated that a few frozen bottles of tap water is going to help.

      1. I forgot to mention the vented box in the above comment is often called a California Cooler. Would work pretty well on the North side of a NH home I suspect. :-)

      2. I get all that, thanks for the input, the only objective is to assist the refrigerator’s cooling capacity. Certainly not an application of the ice harvesting. We have 3 refrigerators and the one is normally only 1/3 full. It is this one that I do this with, and they are 64 oz jugs of water/ice.

        I do like your passive cooler exchange, I’ve often thought that the compressor for a refrigerator as well as the freezer should be located in the basement and the coolant piped to the box. To take advantage of the cold outside temperature just seems like obvious to have been common by now.

  44. I remember being able to go to the airport and say goodbye to family before they boarded the airplane. I remember when we had a Space Shuttle and we could go to our space station without asking the Russians for a ride. Back when there were only two genders, and universities could gave scholarships to white men for scholarship. When government contracts weren’t just awarded to minority owned companies. When I could go to work and not have endure lectures and training about diversity, LBTQ and HeforShe. We have gone everywhere but forward.

  45. I would encourage everyone with aging parents and relatives to interview and video them, if possible, I just did this with my dad. We also have interviews with Grandparents. One day, we will not be able to access the internet. We need to have this written down to share, enjoy, remember and learn. My dad loved sharing some of his stories. I held my phone camera up while I was audio taping. Very easy and you will not regret it!

  46. Hey All:
    With everything thats going on, may I suggest going back in time a little bit and re-reading this Article that Ken wrote a hundred years ago…
    Might be a good time to just relax and figure out what’s really important in life.
    Yes the Country is in a crisis, but does that mean we need to be going completely stupid? We’re better than that.

    1. Thanks NRP,,,
      looking like a rainy afternoon, so think ill brew some coffee and do some readin

  47. I really miss simpler times.
    When being a craftsman actually was viewed as respectable, and people actually had class.

  48. You just turned my clock back 91 years. Born during the depression, lived through WW II, Korea, etc., and have watched the things we valued back then get stepped on like trash. My heart aches for the future.

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