As lot of you know, I’ve been away from P&P for a few months due to a knee replacement. I’m certainly glad to be back and thank everyone for the wonderful cards and words of encouragement.
My stint away and the experience gave me time to think. Basically, about the improvements in medicine amongst other things.
Not long ago, I had a conversation with my college grandson about what is the best oils to use for cooking. His argument was something on the line of which is better to buy olive oil or coconut. I told him he didn’t have to buy anything, because I had both in the pantry. He was shocked and said he thought I probably still used shortening. That gave me food for thought. My grandmother was born in the late 1800’s and she used lard then later shortening. I know one thing her fried foods couldn’t be beat. Then I thought about the path from lard (pig fat, used since prehistoric times) to olive and coconut oils. I’m doing this by memory, so I’m probably showing my age, but from shortening, I remember going to plain ol’ vegetable oil, and later a zillion kinds of vegetable oils, corn, soybean, and sunflower. Of course, we had to adjust our baking recipes accordingly.
Crisco, arguably was the first popular national shortening. It began being manufactured in the late 1800’s and it’s still on the grocery shelves today, as is lard. There are some older recipes for cakes in particular that are just not the same without shortening.
This took me back in time to a lot of changes that have been made in the kitchen in particular that make our grandchildren think of their grandparents growing up kinda like we think of the pioneer families.
One thing we have in common, to a degree, was simply being able to come home from school, and yes I walked then took the public bus when I got in high school, getting our homework done and playing outside. I remember how much I enjoyed smelling supper up and down the street. Meatloaf and baked beans could really catch my attention. We didn’t have storm doors but plain jane ol’ screens where the scents could escape. During supper, there were no distractions like television, phone especially cellular ones, no iPads or game machines. It might sound odd to many of the younger readers, but we didn’t have those distractions. We talked, unique as it may seem today. Of course we had phones but most everybody had a party-line. You had to carefully pick up the phone and not make any noise in case there was a conversation going on. I think the party-line was shared by four households.
After dinner, we washed the dishes and then we’d go to our rooms, shared by other siblings, and read and play our record player. Our parents would sit out on the front porch with neighbors and talk. Oh yes, and the reason we didn’t sit in front of a television was because we didn’t have one! I vividly remember the day we got our first black and white TV and had only one channel! Yep, one local channel.
Life was truly more simple. Mother and Daddy didn’t have to worry about my driving because I wasn’t allowed to drive. We only had one automobile (and you’re not gonna catch me on my age by my revealing the model or year of our brand new Chevy). If we wrecked it, Daddy couldn’t have gotten to work. Mama kept it once a week to do her grocery shopping. I don’t know about you guys, but Monday was washing and Wednesday was grocery shopping, because that was the day for the “new deals” to come out which meant Mama got more grocery store trading stamps.
I can remember the smell of clothes hanging out on the clothes line, but didn’t necessarily like to hang them. Nothing is better than sheets dried outside. In the summer we always had a gallon of tea for sun tea on the porch. Add one cup of sugar and water to the top and we had southern sweet tea paradise. I still make it to this day except I boil the water and steep the tea in a pitcher.
Another smell I’ll never forget is perked coffee. It’s just like the Mr. Coffee but there’s something special about the water running over coffee once verses it being perked up and over the coffee grinds again and again until it’s just the right color. There was no fixin’ one cup of coffee at a time, after you’ve gone through a couple of dozen flavors.
As writers of historical westerns, for those of us who are, I’d really be interested in the changes that we made from 1850 to 1950, and especially those from 1950 to today. Many of the changes came about when women began working outside of the home, plus taking care of the children, cooking from scratch, grocery shopping, sewing clothes for both boys and girls, being Boy Scout and Girl Scout leaders, Sunday School teachers, homeroom mothers, plus being a loving mother and wife, and the hostess of the home. And a home is what I grew up in … not a house.
What are some of your greatest memories from growing up … and no iPads, Xboxes, or cell phones, please?
To one lucky winner I will send you a gift certificate to purchase my latest book from Kensington The Troubled Texan and watch for my next Kasota Springs, Texas, contemporary Out of a Texas Night.