I grew up that way….
When I am brushing my teeth, I still only run the water enough to wet my brush and my dentures, then turn the water off. It is a left-over habit from when we lived “back on the farm” before we had running water in the house. I didn’t know how rich we were back then.
We grew everything from potatoes to strawberries. And what we grew, we canned! Back than, I hated the process of canning, but loved the canned goods. I have not so fond memories of washing hundreds of glass jars. This was when you put a big pot on the wood fired cook stove and heated the water to when it was nearly boiling, you carried it to the “Pantry” and set it on the end of the big slate sink.
My Mother was the strongest woman I have ever known. She planted a one acre garden, with food. She also had a section that she planted in flowers. The woman had a Green Thumb, every thing she planted, grew. Plants, birds, and animals loved her, birds would land on her hand. She knew every species of plant, and could name every bird. She worked in that garden, weeding, hoeing, and harvesting for hours a day standing with her back bent with her legs straight. I would last for half an hour, with a lot of coaxing, maybe an hour before I was sitting down, out of breath.
The only things we bought at the local grocery store was, salt, sugar, and flour. There was no bottled water in the store. If you had tried to purchase it, the grocer would look at you like you were crazy. It still seems a little crazy to me. Remember that pantry I talked about? Well we put a big metal milk can of water on the “side board” and dipped out what you needed for you chore of the day. Those milk cans didn’t magically appear on the sideboard, we had to do one of two things: 1. Go out to the well, prime the pump, and actually use our arms and pump the handle up and down, to get the water to pour into our pail. Oh, by the way, once out pail was full, we carried it into the house. 2. Place several of the milk cans in the back of the car, head down to the artesian well and if the minnow is still swimming around, dip water out and put it into the milk can, load it back into the car and drive it home, and start all over again when that was gone.
There was no such thing as a shower, or even a bathroom. If you had to go, you went out the back door to the “Out House” and did you business. On the farm we had what I used to call, a “Three-holer,” that was three holes, one tiny one for small kids, one big for the man of the family and one in-between for the woman. It was smelly in the summer and freezing in the winter, what fun!
I remember my absolute thrill when my Dad brought home an army surplus folding canvas-like bath tub! After heating the water on the stove, I would slide into a bubble bath, pure heaven! Of course, I only got to do this on Saturday night.
We washed clothes on Monday, always! Rain, or shine, winter or summer, we hauled the old Washing machine out plugged her in and did the heating of water again, filled it with boiling water, added plenty of bleach and soap, sorry, can’t remember the names of the soap. You always started off with all the white things, they were stuffed in and you waited for the clothes to get clean enough to pull them, gingerly (remember the boiling water) out of the water, and stick them into the ringer to crush a lot of the water out of them. Watch your fingers! My Mom had a two tubs set up to rinse them in cold water and put them through the ringer, put them in the second rinse, back through the ringer and then put them in a basket to take them out to the cloths line to hang them with wood clothes pins.
I have not so fond memories of bringing them back into the house-frozen stiff, and not that dry to hang them up over the stove on yet again another cloths line, this time with out the pins. I have to admit they smelled wonderful. Damn, just talking about it makes me tired.
Oh! By the way, you aren’t done with your wash day. You kept adding clothes to that same water gradually adding them by the color of the clothes, once the sheets and towels were done, you added your other clothes until you got to the dark clothes, which were pitched in last. The theory was that all the bleach was gone by the time they were washed. That might have been why all the men’s jeans and work shirts got lighter until they were streaked.
When they started getting holes, they were patched and worn them some more. Nothing was thrown away if it could be re-used. Now that was recycling! I still keep a box of folded rags for cleaning.
We had animals, too! My Mothers motto was “Every part strengthens the part” and no part of any animal was wasted. But that is for another time.
If you like my stories of “Long ago” let me know, because, I am not quite older than dirt, but getting there, and love to re-live the “Good old days”.
I am an author and have 8 books on Amazon.com, they are available on digital and print on demand paperback. Just type my name, Brenda Colbath in the search area and voila! you will see all of them. They are only $.99 so you won’t go broke getting them for your Kindle. If you have to hold the book in your hand and turn the pages, you can order them, they cost a little more.
BTW, Amazon let’s you read the firs two or three chapter FREE to see if you like the book.