Lately I’ve given a lot of thought to things we take for granted – among them the tools we use in everyday life.
In the overall scheme of things, all of these tools are new. When my great-grandparents homesteaded here in 1894, the things I use every day either didn’t exist or weren’t available to those who staked a claim and settled in the wilderness.
For starters, they had no electricity. My Grandmother used to tell of her Mother going out to look for the cow, who hadn’t come home for milking time. Grandmother was a small child, so her mother told her that if it got dark before she got back, just go to bed. She wasn’t allowed to use matches or light the lantern. When she woke in the morning, her Mother still wasn’t home, but she knew she had been there because the bread she had set to rise the evening before had been punched down.
The milk – the bread. If my great-grandparents wanted those things they had to milk the cow and bake the bread. If they wanted butter, they had to churn the cream. There was no such thing as making a quick trip to the store when it was 8 miles away and transportation was by wagon or horseback.
I grow a vegetable garden and do a little canning because I enjoy it. They did it because it was necessary.
I wish I had found this old photo of my Grandmother and her parents while she was still living. Their house looks large for the times, so I expect part of it was either a shop or an attached barn. And I’ll be darned if I know what those long poles are for – unless they belonged to the Indians who occasionally camped on the property. Grandmother said that yes, they did put up teepees. (There were no fancy pop-up tents to pull from the back of an SUV and set up in minutes.)
I look around my kitchen, starting with the range, the dishwasher, the hot and cold running water, the coffee pot, the refrigerator, the trash compactor, and the microwave. Then there are all the smaller tools: the rice cooker, the crock pot, the slicer, the grinder, and the food processor.
Moving on … what would life be like without the washer and dryer? How about the vacuum cleaner? Can you feature dragging your room-sized rugs out to hang over the line and beating on them to get the dirt out? Only a hundred years ago, that’s what people did.
I shouldn't forget the furnace - the one that comes on automatically when the thermostat gives the signal.
What do YOU take for granted that didn’t exist just 100 years ago?