Skip to comments.HOW TIMES CHANGE
Posted on 12/25/2011 10:27:52 PM PST by mamelukesabre
My christmas presents from my mother today got me thinking about how times have changed. I have never grown up on a farm but many of my relatives did. A few of the old holdouts still do. Family reunions were almost always on a farm somewhere. I spent summers as a kid on farms owned by relatives.
What did my mother give me? Well before I talk about that I need to explain a few things.
The hard lessons learned during the great depression stuck a little more permanently in my family tree than most. I grew up saving rubber bands, grease, aluminum foil, bits and pieces of soap, pieces of string and every scrap of fabric from every stitch of clothing and linen. We didnt' throw things away. We lived this frugally even though my parents were born after WWII and personally never experienced the great depression. It was a philosophy they grew up with and it stuck and then was passed on to me, albeit slightly watered down in strength. My mother made all her childrens' clothes up until we were old enough to go to school and even after that she continued to make some of them. I also wore hand-me-downs from cousins up until about age 14 and stuff I wore was handed down to other cousins.
Certain family possessions were MEANT to come from grandparents. Things like head boards, highchairs, cribs, and kitchen tables. 100 years ago, a kitchen table was a prized possession. Siblings would fight over who got ma & pa's kitchen table.
My grandmothers, aunts, and my mother kept what they called "hope chests" for their young ones. Traditionally, girls would begin acquiring minimal things a wife would need from a very young age(like starting at age 5) Silverware, bed linens, dishes, sewing equipment, cooking equipment, baby stuff, etc. The goal was to have acquired all the bare necessities by the time she was to get married. The more the better. Little bits and pieces year by year would be donated by aunts and grandmothers. Grandmothers got it started, then mothers took over, and the girl herself would finish it. My grandmothers did this not only for the girls, but also for the boys just in case the boys married a girl that wasn't herself prepared.
People don't do these things anymore. Nowdays, girls EXPECT to receive all these things at her wedding in the form of wedding gifts. I am one of the few that still uses handed down old furniture(I despise particle board, pressed wood, and other such fakery. You couldn't PAY me to put that crap in my house no matter how good it looks or how expensive it is) Over the years I have gradually acquired both of my grandparents' very first kitchen tables, my great grandfather's desk, one grandmother's rocking chair, one great grandmother's quilting frame, bedroom sets, oil lamps, cooking implements, and other stuff I don't care to list it all.
Anyway, my mother gave me some handmade kitchen towels out of her very own hope chest from when she was a little girl...the few of them she never did use. And she gave me her grandmother's quilt and a duvet. In our family, a "duvet" was the removable covering that went over the quilt...sort of a pillow case for a blanket. This was to make the quilt last longer. To protect it while in use on the bed.
I am not female.
Since no one else in my family tree cares about these old hand me down, it seems they are all getting funneled down to me from all sorts of directions. Also, I am one of the few who still live in an old drafty house with cold bedrooms and an antique furnace. Actually, I think I'm the ONLY one.
Many people would probably feel insulted if they got these things for Christmas. I'm not one of them.
Anyway, Merry Christmas to all.
I have a very few old things from my family, not many. My mother used to have some old quilts her mother had made from feed sacks. I don't know what happened to them; I'd love to have them. I do have a quilt her oldest sister made for me and gave me when I got married, 31 years ago (I wrote letters to my aunt on a regular basis when I was a teenager).
I don't have daughters, only sons. I know which one I want to get certain things, because I know which one will appreciate the value of their being family things. I'm writing down where certain things came from, and what I remember about them, as well as telling him about them.
Expect a visit from “American Pickers”.
Although I still think that those guys do most of their business at estate auctions. Those vultures probably take note of the eccentrics they try to do business with and then pounce when they croak and the old whackos’ estranged children just want to unload the contents of their garages and attics.
The only authentic vintage kerosene indoor lamp I ever saw was fifteen years ago that had long ago been converted to electric. Is it true that if you don’t adjust the wick on those things properly you can step out for an hour and come back to see the whole room covered in soot?
I enjoyed your meditation. You are fortunate to have had a family that was unsullied by the consumerism of the post world war 2 culture. TO place value on permanence is a lost art. I study history and some of the most fascinating things I have read are the wills from the 18th and 19th centuries. Almost all of them never mention money, but they do mention things like tables, and pots and pans. ITems that today would get a chuckle from most Americans. Who would want Great Aunt Fanny’s saucepan? But things made in an earlier generation were crafted not factory made and more importantly were designed to last giving a sense of permanence that is absent from things we accumulate today. Anyhow, I think your Christmas present from your Mom was lovely and of far significance than any electronic toy could ever be.
I have made tools I needed in order to avoid buying them, they didn't look good but they worked. Those people knew how to use things until they completely wore out, as the old saying goes: Use it up wear it out, make it do or do without.
I still live by it.
A good idea and with photos and family artwork, too. The history is something that is easily lost.
If you do not adjust the wick properly on a kerosene or oil lamp, you will get soot for sure. Also, you should not leave the house with oil lamps blazing. Unattending flames from oil lamps like those of candles can be deadly. You have to mind those sort of things. Awareness was a necessity in the past.
I’m the collector in my family as well - though there weren’t many things to pass on I have 4-5 bibles, old tools ad knives, some hand crotched doilies, a hand made chest, and have scanned and distributed copies of all the photos I could get my hands on. I’m the genealogy hobbiest as well and made my dad proud when I should him our ancestors rev war pension app. (bayoneted, pow, paroled, and returned to action). Most of the rest was lost in fire flood or to older siblings of my parents.
Your right in that it seems that most don’t care about such things as much - but there is hope - I didn’t start until about 10 years ago really paying attention up until then it was more just a sense of reverence for old things and where they had been and who had used them. I’ve noticed one of my kids keeps things - not everything but just the odd item here and there...I’ve a feeling she’ll be the next family historian she just doesn’t know it yet...and I’m not about to mention it until she gets through these skeptical teenage years.
I’ve found it isn’t a matter of living in the past as much as it is passing down the stories of the trials and if course the occasional laugh riot. It’s the sharing. Keep the faith and merry Christmas to you fellow freeper.
Hee! Hee! Is it a coal-fired furnace like the one in “A Christmas Story” that little Ralphie’s father had to do battle with on a regular basis?
You know you’re looking at an old building when you catch sight of the tell-tale coal chute on the side facing the alleyway.
I am betting those quilts were made from flour sacks, not feed sacks. Feed sacks would have been made from burlap, much too coarse for a quilt. ...
I’ve got a huge old full length sheepskin coat that was my grandfather’s. It fits if I roll down the cuffs on the sleeves(the sleeves are a bit short). I wore it two winters in a row about 15 years ago. I have no idea what it would cost to buy a new one like it and I’m scared to ask.
My house is full of stuff like this.
WOW!!! You got a WONDERFUL gift!!! I’m proud of you, that YOU’RE happy!!
I have my hope chest sitting here. ;) It now has my Daddy’s Navy Uniform in it, and Brad’s baptismal suit that I made him.
I’d give anything to have Grandma’s table...
My sister and I are on a quest to let NO old quilt be sold for the ladies who like to cut them up & make teddy bears (no offense if someone reading this does....). I have many... Don’t know what to do with them, other than display them proudly.
This is a great thread...thank you. Merry CHRISTmas!! :)
Yes, it is important to trim the wick properly to avoid soot production, which is unburned fuel and wasteful to boot......
I don’t know. I’ve never been able to get them to work properly. I’ve been told if you let them sit too long with old oil in them, something happens to the wicks and makes them unusable. I would have to clean out the oil residue and put new wicks in them.
I’ve also got a nice cut glass glass living room lamp and lampshade that uses a globe and mantles. It’s meant to burn gasoline I believe, or maybe coleman lantern fuel. I’ve never tried to use it.
My uncles all hunted a lot and had numerous hunting dogs. These were the sacks their dog food came in, big 50-lb sacks. I think there may have been softer fabric on the reverse side, but I don't recall these being really coarse burlap, maybe a coarse cotton.
I can recall my mother buying flour in cotton sacks; they often came with a terrycloth washcloth or dishcloth attached to one end.
exactly like that!
Except mine had a natural gas conversion burner retrofitted into it sometime in the 1950s. I do have a coal chute but the cast iron door has been removed and replaced with a glass window.
We used flour sacks, 25 lbs, that had dish towels or washcloths attached, too. The sacks became backing for quilts that were made from scraps of cloth leftover from making clothes. We had no large groups of dogs, so I have never seen any cloth dogfood bags. There is a material called hopsacking that was used for feed, made of course woven cotton that was popular in the late 60’s as a clothing material for mod designers of the time, that resembles burlap, but is softer and less stiff.......
The oil becomes waxy by evaporation and the wicks become saturated with the residue. Then when you try to light it, it smokes terribly and stinks......
I also have two quilts made by a great aunt in the 1970s after she became old and senile. They are made out of scraps of old polyester clothing that was popular in the early 70s. The workmanship isn’t real good. She had arthritis and hand tremors by then. She gave them to her sister-in-law(my grandmother) when her own children would not take them. My grandmother used them for a few years and then gave them to me when her own children wouldn’t take them. They are quite ugly but they are very warm. I’ve used them every winter for the last 10-15 years.
Good....I’m glad you’re using them!!!!
Now...if I could get out of this So.Cal. climate and get to cold weather...I’d sure have use for these...
I have my grandmother’s cast iron cookware. They made the cast iron stuff better back then. When you find cast iron in a store nowdays, it is heavy and crudely cast. My cast iron pieces are formed very thin and very very smooth. The crap I see in stores nowdays would be impossible to lift a soft fried egg off it without damaging it or spilling the runny parts.
What I would really really like to have is some solid copper kettles.
Sergeant Major Plumley: How the hell do you know what kind of God damn Christmas it is?
What a treasure you received.
I have 3 unfinished quilt tops, one of which appears to be made of worn men's shirts. The patterns/fabric are what you would associate with a man's shirt, anyway.
We gave our daughter a cedar lined ‘hope’ chest for her high school graduation. It was important at the time, but even moreso now, I
appreciate the ‘generational’ lasting quality of the gift.
I have a serious detachment from material things, but hearing other’s stories helps me to understand the value of çherished family heirlooms.
Thank you sir for your willingness to open up and share your delight gift with us, and allowing us to share in that blessing.
Blessings and mercy to you and your family in the coming New Year.
Merry Christmas Sir..... Stay Safe.
IMO...there's a huge difference between just material things...and family heirlooms. :)
Hope your Christmas was wonderful!!
Squantos....my hero! ;)
Hope you, too, had a wonderful Christmas!!
My mom got it into her head that it would be a good idea to cut up her graduation quilt that Grandma made her in 1963, and make it into a teddy bear. I had to do some begging and pleading to get her to just give it to me. I have it tucked away. It’s pretty fragile now.
I will enjoy breakfast this morning sitting at the sturdy round oak table used in the farmhouse of my great great grandparents. My wife wants to replace it and several other family pieces with new. I’m staying with the old. Fortunately our mid 20’s daughter loves both the old furniture and the family stories. This furniture will stay in the family for at least one more generation.
Oh, I'm glad it's not just me. I picked up a small frying pan in a store and it weighed a TON. I could barely heft it. I thought "This is a weapon!"
My kids get tired of me bellyaching about how cheap everything is made. I have been doing this for 25 years. We recently went through Grandmas house picking out things to keep. I took 4 old cane bottom chairs. Gpa and Gma purchased them at a farm sale in about 1939. I also chose the cast iron skillets, 4 of them. Gma made the best fried potatoes in one of those skillets. One more thing was her old butcher knife. Have had many memories flooding back recently because of this event.
You might enjoy the books by Eric Sloane, like A Reverence for Wood. Sloane was an artist who explored the past in some very charming books. I enjoy his writing as well. An Early American Boy is one of my favorites. He made a very apt point in his books when he discussed the sense of “awareness” people in an earlier time had. They were, he said, more cognizant of their surroundings, their world, than we are today. Modern man is endlessly distracted, whereas distractions, long ago, could be deadly. Sloane also was fascinated with the construction of tools and things made out of wood and wrote about it. Dover Publications carries them and you can find several on their website. Happy New Year!
Merry Christmas! This Christmas my brother-in-law called me down to his house (formerly my deceased in-law’s farm)because he wanted to give me something. He had laid out 3 quilts that my mother-in-law and the ladies in the community had hand made. He wanted to give them to me to use. I explained that I had all the quilts and blankets that my husband and I could use, but that I would distribute them to my 3 children. The quilts were needing a cleaning and it looked like the moths had been feasting on one of them that had some silky inserts. So I took them and with some trepidation decided to wash them, hoping they didn’t fall apart. They did hold up and I replaced patches by hand in the moth eaten one with pieces from one of my husbands old shirts and one of mine. So now it has a personel touch and a generation forward. I was really surprised that the kids loved getting these old quilts. I let each one pick which one they liked (depending on when they arrived so no one was fighting over one)and the best thing is that when they use them they will think of their grandmother.
You to young lady.... We had a beautiful white Christmas. Got surprised with an all day snow. About 8 inches locally ..... You stay safe an have a happy New Year.
Yes, but when I was much younger I didn’t understand my detachment problem or the value of sentiment others could have for things. But I see I have one sister who is totally detached also.
It makes me sad when I think of the disrespect I had for even my children’s things because I had no thing that meant anything to me.
I’m learning though, and the Lord is helping restore those years the locusts have eaten!
I also have my mother's "chicken fork", the long wooden-handled fork she used to fry chicken and meat with; it was her mother's before her. My grandmother died when I was 5. I don't use it but will of course keep it and my sons know what it is. I've also got a collection of aluminum coffee pots and a few thick ceramic coffee mugs, a couple of which came from my great-grandmother. These all sit on top of my kitchen cabinet.
I don't have anything from my dad's family. His mother died when he was a teenager. He and all his siblings are gone now.
Really, really ugly.
I'm keeping them anyway.
The whole concept of a quilt came about out of practicality, not as a form of art and beauty. A woman would literally create a valuable necessity out of garbage(worn out clothing). Those ugly 70s era quilts made of old polyester scraps might be the last of the practical quilts. I’ve seen some even made out of denim scraps. The ugly polyester years came and went fairly quickly. I’m talking about the thick semi stretchy polyester that old fat ladies of rural areas wouldn’t stop wearing when polyester went out of style in the late 70s. We will probably never see cloth made like that ever again. Maybe someday people will be fascinated by those ugly old polyester quilts.
I know exactly what you are talking about, the stretchy double knit. I wore plenty of it. My dad worked for a textile manufacturer. His plant didn't make that stuff, but some of their plants did, and occasionally they would bring some and sell it to employees, cheap. My mother didn't sew but we'd have clothes made out of it.
In the summer (in the hot humid Southeast) it didn't "breathe" and it was miserable to wear. That same "quality" is probably why your quilts are so warm!
Men wore it too; remember "Leisure Suits?"
I have the hand me down iron skillets also. I love making cornbread.