From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Life in the Country before Electricity

Rural Kentucky in the 1930s and 1940s


With Christmas just around the corner, my days at work have been very busy with one customer after another. I've been working full-time, and honestly, it's been exhausting.

All of this makes me remember my one-time job at the little country store with fondness. I did spend a lot of hours there, but it was a relatively stress-free job less than a mile from my house. I made sandwiches, cleaned the store, and ran the cash register. Another of my jobs was visiting with the customers while they sat down to enjoy a snack.

Here's something I wrote back in my country-store days, about some of the reminiscences I heard from the old fellows who gathered there every day.

I take a lot of trips down memory lane at the little country store when the old-timers sit around with their "co-colas" and reminisce. The other day they were remembering straw ticks in their beds. By the end of the winter, they had worn a little nest in the straw where they could snuggle down completely warm under a pile of quilts even though snow might blow through the cracks in the log walls.

Another thing they all remember fondly is home-canned meat, fixed in a gravy. I've heard them say many times that their (rural) families never were hungry even during the Depression. Everyone had a big garden, pigs, and milk cows. They butchered the pigs in the winter and either smoked or canned the meat. They raised what they ate and ate what they raised!

The creamery sent a truck out once a week and people put their cream cans out on the road to be emptied by the driver. He left the cream money from the week before tucked under the handle on the lid. The ice truck also came once a week.

They went to bed early because kerosene for the lamps and batteries for the radios were expensive. On Saturday night, the young folks gathered at the store to socialize. They came in a car or on a mule if they had one, and if they didn't, they walked.

Electricity and paved roads changed everything!

2 comments:

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

Those were some nice memories. thanks for sharing them!

Genevieve said...

Thanks for stopping by, Michelle. Country life in the Ozarks before electricity was probably very similar to what the old-timers here remember.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.