Once Upon a (Life)time
Growing Up Years
In Retrospect

Mildred's observations about life in the early 20th century.

♦ There was a general supposition when I was growing up that the survival of the human race depended on castor oil.

♦ Hens didn't lay in unheated chicken coops so we had eggs in the house only twice in winter: half a dozen at Thanksgiving and a half dozen again at Christmas for the holiday baking.

♦ Our scouring compound was wood ashes. Laundry was rubbed on the washboard, boiled in lye water, rinsed and then blued. And believe me, nothing went on the line until it was clean.

♦ Floors were scrubbed with lye to turn the bare, slivery boards a pretty red and in sub-zero weather were not scrubbed at all because the water would freeze on them.

♦The "flapper" era was a tug of war between the older generation and the new, and the flapper won with her bobbed hair, short skirts and unbuckled overshoes that rasped together at every step and became known as galoshes.

♦ The Victrola became a mark of distinction and the fiddler fought a losing battle with the saxophone player and the snare drums.

♦ The "fox trot" rendered the two step obsolete and that new dance, the Charleston, was considered practically indecent.

♦ And oh, yes, it was unpatriotic during the war with Germany, to mention sauerkraut so we called it "liberty cabbage" and ate it anyhow.

♦ There was no babysitting and no generation gap. We took pleasure in small things and had time to share those pleasures and to know our neighbors.

♦ Any tragedy rocked the whole community, such as the little Epping boy who found some dynamite caps, picked at the powder with a nail and blew two of his fingers off. There was a neighbor woman who committed suicide at the depot and Frank Matt who became lost while hunting and was found sitting under a tree frozen to death. But the tragedy most vividly remembered was that of Mr. McCormick, the storekeeper whose team ran away with a sleigh-load of ice, dragging and injuring him so badly that he died shortly after. Mrs. McCormick brought her two children and came back to visit at Evaro each summer for several years. My Grandma Mary was a southerner who delighted in telling stories about "a feller back home." She would keep one in mind for months just to see young Charlie McCormick crack up.
"A feller back home," she told, "went to call on his girlfriend but forgot to get rid of his quid of tobacco. In those days before davenports became the central piece of furniture, in the living room was a bed made up for company and graced with a white bed spread. The suitor, not wanting the lady to know about his obnoxious habit, waited for her to leave the room then stood up intending to nonchalantly toss his hat on the bed and spit the tobacco out the door. Hearing her footsteps returning he 'got rattled' and spat on the bed and threw his hat out the door!"

♦ In hot weather, perishables were kept in a covered pail that hung in the spring. When the evening meal was ready, someone made a run for this "cooler" and hurried back with a bucket of buttermilk or icy spring water for lemonade.