At the age
of 5, my life changed. Chores were given to all of the
children. Mornings started at 4:30 a.m. Time to get up and start the
day. Mom would prepare breakfast and we all sat around the table and
enjoyed homemade biscuits with gravy, which was usually made from
the leftover grease from the meat cooked from dinner.
At around 5
a.m. the chores began. Kindling and cobs were brought in to fuel the
wood and coal stove, and the ashes left from the night before were
At the age of 6 or 7, the harder chores were now given to us.
It's time to go milk the cows and carry the milk into the
smokehouse, where it was put into a "separator." It was a big metal
machine that would actually separate the milk (which was called
"blue john" because of its color) on one side and the cream on the
other side. Mom would make butter out of the cream and sold it for a
Next, it was time to "slop" the pigs. This consisted of taking
out all of the "slop," which was all the leftover food from our
previous meals and some of the "blue john" milk.
Next I would go to the chicken house to feed and water the
chickens and gather the eggs. I had to be very careful, especially
if the chickens were sitting on their nest, because they would peck
you. Rarely did our family get to eat the eggs, because Mom also
sold the eggs to her loyal customers.
Now that the chores were done, it was time to head to school. We,
my brothers and sisters, walked two miles to school and back. It
didn't matter if it was cold with 12 inches of snow or if it was 90
degrees, we still had to walk.
My dresses were made from feed sacks and were cut to come below
our knees. They may not have been pretty, but they were always
clean. I wore high-top laced shoes and four-buckle overshoes on
those days when they were needed. My stockings were long and held up
by garters, which were made from elastic. My hair was always a
beautiful dark brown because I washed it with homemade lye soap.
Our entertainment for playtime consisted of walking on stilts,
swinging on swings hung from the trees, wading in the pond and
playing with our pets -- dogs named Pup, a white bull dog, and Jack,
a collie; the barnyard cats; and our horses, named Maude, a burgundy
female, and Charlie, a black male.
In the early spring, summer and fall, in order for the family to
keep cool during the day, we would sit under the big shade tree in
the yard and drink lemonade. At night, we slept on the floor in
front of the screen door and kept all of the windows up. When
electricity became available in later years, we would use window
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The only way to keep in contact with neighbors and friends was by
mail or to actually go visit them. Of course at this time,
telephones were not available. We would either ride our bikes or go
in our old Model A, which would hold five people, but of course we
always squeezed more than that in. The cars did not have heat, so on
those cold days, we would wrap our feet in blankets and put warm
bricks by our feet. Occasionally, we would have to stop and scrape
the ice off the windshield because there was no defroster to keep it
Because I lived on a farm, I started driving at the age of 12.
Gas cost was 9 cents a gallon when I legally started driving.
The times, they are a-changing! In present times, mothers are
rushed to the hospital to have their babies. Doctors do not come to
the home for visits. Rarely, does a family sit down for a meal
together. Few children do chores unless they are on a farm. The
children are picked up by bus or taken by their parents to school.
Video games and electronics have taken the place of good old games
for children. Air conditioning and furnaces are a must for all
households. Cellphones and computers are our main source of
communication. We have vehicles that can seat many, and they all
have heating and air conditioning. Gas prices are near $4, and
"these are the good old days."
[By ANNABELLE BOYD, from The Christian Village