A while back I started a post about my grandparents and their lives, How Did They Do It? Part One . After rambling for a while I realized that I needed to turn the post into at least two parts. I also realized that I needed to organize my thoughts before continuing. It has been bugging me that I haven't finished the series. The problem is that all these thoughts keep swirling around in the salad spinner and I can't seem to get them together! Part of the problem is that although in my mind I can see the lives that they lived, I can't really imagine what their lives were like.
Both sets of grandparents were born in the early years of 1900, if my memory is correct in 1904 and 1907. My grandparents grew up on farms. My maternal grandparents married in 1925; the paternal grandparents in 1927. So I decided those years would be the first part of their lives. In the following years my parents would be born and my grandparents would be busy raising them, so I decided that would be the second part of their lives. The 1950's brought high school and college graduations, followed by marriages and children moving far away to raise their children. Part three is the stage of my grandparents lives that I remember as a child and a teenager.
After breaking down their lives into these three stages I realized it was easier to understand what life was really like by just looking at each stage individually. (I have to laugh because at this point I'm wondering if one of my grandchildren will break down my life into stages!) So, thinking about the years 1904 to 1927 is hard. I've seen pictures of my maternal grandmother's family home where she was born and grew up. I remember one time when we were visiting the cemetery close to where the home was that my grandmother showed us the spot where it stood. It was a big house, there were 10 children living there, as I remember it was two stories and made of wood. There were no screens to keep out the bugs, ugh! I've been in the house where my father lived as a little boy. It was also made of wood, too, and I think there was a fireplace. The room where the kitchen was had been torn down but I remember hearing him talk about the women cooking on a wood burning stove.
Neither family had electricity nor running water, but that was the way of life at that time. Winters were cold and summers were hot. They didn't know what a luxury it would be to flip a switch and have light or turn on a faucet and have water, hot water, too, come running out. If you don't know about something how can you miss it? Automobiles were just coming on the scene as my grandparents were marrying. I remember my grandmother talk about taking the horse and wagon to go to the Delta to visit her family. I also remember her laughing that when the first automobile that could go 35 miles per hour was built that everyone thought that anyone riding in such would be killed!
Life in those days was about survival. Raising crops for food and income. Raising animals for food and to pull equipment. Cutting fire wood for warmth and cooking. Sewing clothes and making quilts for warmth. There were social times, too though. For my father's family there was Camp Meeting in the first week of August. Churches had dinner on the grounds followed by a "Sunday Singing" that attracted visitors. Trips to town were a special occasion, too.
Health care was very different then, too. Illness and injury took many lives. Doctors were well trained but drugs and successful treatment techniques had not begun to develop (thank World War II for that). Doctors made house calls, traveling on horseback or in a buggy over the dirt roads. My great-grandmother died in a February snowstorm as her 10th child was being born, the doctor was unable to get through the snow to the house. If you walk through a cemetery often you will see many tombstones that have almost identical death dates: influenza took it's toll during those years.
Did the people of that time think their lives were hard? I have to think not; they didn't know any other way of life. As I stated above, they didn't know about the luxuries and modern conveniences that make our lives easy. Often we hear people talk about the good old days and how simple life was "back then". I honestly don't think people's lives were really simple during these years. No matter what time period you live in, life is just the way it is at that time.