Wednesday, June 08, 2011

How Did We Manage?

The question at hand is 'how did we manage?' back in the days of no power, no phones, etc. I remember back in my younger days of having none of the things we now consider necessities.

Sitting in my Mother's Den today, the power suddenly went out. She has a problem with all the light coming through the big windows, so the drapes stayed drawn together. It was very dark in the room. And it got very hot when the air conditioner wasn't working. I decided to call the power company to see what was going on. My cell phone was in my car on the charger, so I picked up her wall phone, knowing her other phone would not work. Low and behold, the phone was dead. There we sat with no air and no phone! Seemed like old times.

I thought back to when I was a child. I remember the only power we had came from a light hanging from the ceiling, but I also remember lights going out for long periods and we still had to use kerosene lamps to read at night. We had no such thing as air conditioners. We didn't have a fan until I was much older. My parents just could not afford these things at that time. But I didn't feel like I was doing with out; nobody else around us had them either. We didn't have electric heat or gas heat. We heated with a coal stove in the kitchen and a fireplace in the living room. We didn't have a refrigerator with an ice maker or freezer. We depended on the ice house coming around with ice. Our neighbor had an icebox and they kept what they called 'hot' ice in it from the ice house that we used. Our water came from a well. Although we had great water (the best in the town), it didn't provide for water to wash, so my Dad had to haul it from his sister's house.

All of those memories make it seem as though we were poor. But we were not, and, even if we had been, we wouldn't have known it. I did have friends back then that were lots worse off than we had ever been. But none of us dwelt on the fact that we did without things that we might have wanted. Back then, there were no cell phones, no electronics. And, in fact, I was in the ninth grade before we even got a television.

So, sitting in Mother's Den, and getting hotter by the minute, I wondered how our parents and theirs felt when they were growing up, doing without even part of what we think now of as necessities. I know they didn't have power. They grew all their own vegetables and had chickens and cows (of which we did, too when I was young). I remember when Foremost Milk Company started coming door to door bringing milk. Was I happy! I always hated cow's milk. I learned to milk, but never liked the taste. What a joy to get the store-bought kind!

We learned that it was a joy to get out and PLAY - something most kids now do not do. Well, lots of children are into sports, but, when they get home, they sit in front of the television with their electronic games or they are on the cell phone, texting or talking to friends. We loved to be outside at night under the street lights, playing marbles until our parent called us in. I love to play basketball better than I loved to eat.

We all survived and came to know all the good things that have been invented since back then. But I would not want to do away with those days. It taught us that we can survive without having all the amenities that we take for granted today. When the power goes out, we gladly take down our kerosene lamp and our candles and light them up. We go back to talking, something lots have forgotten they can still do. Conversation is almost lost when the television is on or the games are playing. We can still read under the lamp or candles.

I braved the time (about 3 hours) without power today with my lighted Kindle, reading a book. That was the only light in the house. Mother had no light to work on her Word book, so she talked or took a nap. And when the power came back on, I heard her freezer in the next room kick on. So I quickly fixed her television and told her to turn her table lamp on. I was getting ready to leave since it was late, but the lights went out once more. They stayed off for another 15 minutes before coming back on. She was trying to get me to leave because it might get dark before I got home (not likely). I finally got to leave, hoping and praying the power stays on tonight. I had learned earlier today from my brother that the same thing happened last night, letting me know why her television wasn't on this morning when I got there. Hopefully, the power company has the problem fixed and it won't happen again!!

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