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The things we take for granted

Being stuck at home on my days off has given me time to do some cleaning. I came across a little comb-bound booklet that was given to me by my mom and one of my father's cousins. The booklet, titled This I Remember, is a collection of details my paternal great grandfather remembered from the early years of his life in the late 1800s.

I blogged about my great grandfather a few years ago, when I related the story of his elopement. William Edgar Whitten (Nov. 1875 - Apr. 1975) was a hard-working gentleman who achieved much in his life with only an 3rd-grade education. Though he eventually settled in South Texas, he grew up "a farmer's son in the piney woods and rock hills of Georgia."

I decided to blog about some of the things he remembered. When I start feeling like my life is difficult, it only takes reading something like this to make me realize just how easy I have it.

From This I Remember, by William Edgar Whitten:

I remember when...
Both men an boys wore patched shirts and pants.

A child got its first pair of shoes from 3 to 5 years of age.

Shoes were patched just the same as clothes. Father mended and patched the family shoes and used wooden pegs for shoe nails.

Birthday parties were unknown to children.

Mother made all the family clothes by hand.

Mother carded the cotton, spun the thread, and knitted all the family socks and stockings.

Pine knots were used to make light for the house.

The cook stove burned wood, and the wood sat in a box by the stove.

Potatoes were roasted in the ashes of the fireplace.

Father cut his own children's hair. A boy went to a barbershop only after he became 21 years of age.

Men in the neighborhood would cut each other's hair.

Father, mother, and all the children went to church in a two-horse wagon. If a family owned a buggy or surrey, they were considered wealthy and high-class people.

The average man worked 12 to 14 hours per day.

A man worth $10,000 was considered a rich man.

Mother took the little children and went down to the creek to do her family washing and used a battling stick and block for cleaning the clothes. A washboard was unknown to the people of that day.

Carpets and rugs on a floor were unknown. Mother scrubbed the floors once a week with a big scrubbing mop made of corn shucks. She would pour water and white sand on the floors and scrub until the floors were white. Then she would pour more water over the floor to wash all the sand off. This left the floors clean and beautiful.

Ice was unknown in the summer time.

Water was drawn and carried from a well in the back yard or from a spring at the foot of the hill.

Every home, both in town and in the country, had outdoor toilets. A bathroom inside a house was unknown.


Thanks for visiting.


  1. That last one is a definite deal breaker. Must've been hell on us older people going outside in the middle of the night.

    1. I agree! Some places had chamber pots indoors, but emptying those would be just as bad. LOL

  2. I guess it's easier to accept things when that is all you know. Probably a hundred years from now people will wonder how we today managed in such primitive circumstances LOL.

    1. True! LOL Of course, if the government keeps us shut down much longer, we may be living like that again. >.<

  3. Your grandparents were a handsome couple.

    I'd be okay with no rugs or carpets. We have laminate in every room but one and I love it.

    1. I can see why she ran away with him. LOL

      I like the ease of cleaning hard floors, but I don't like the noise. I'd rather have carpet now that my kids are grown.

  4. Looks like writing talent runs int he family :)

  5. What an incredible find.
    It puts our own 'hardships' into perspective doesn't it?

  6. That definitely puts things in perspective. It's good to read things like this every once in a while to remind us how good we have it, compared to back then. Love the photos.

  7. I took my mother to visit her "old aunties" after my first son was born. I was feeling worn out as a new, working mom, until I started trading stories with these gals. I felt like such a whiner!!! From giving birth at home to having to bundle up baby every time you needed to go to the outhouse. No pampers. No baby swings. We really take a lot for granted.

    Love the post. Awesome idea to share. I have my mom and dad's. I should write them up. In the very least, my brothers and sisters would appreciate it. I made my parents do them for me. I've got this habit of nagging...

    1. I used some cloth diapers on days when we were at home. It wasn't so bad.

  8. Thanks for sharing this interesting post.

  9. What a wonderful keepsake you have here. It's really a blessing. Wooden pegs for shoe nails . . . wow. I can't imagine.

  10. And to think this wasn't THAT long ago. Thank you for sharing! :)


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