Cheryl PiersonHi everyone!  Here come the holidays! The impending season and all the preparation for the meals has got me thinking, as it does each year–and I know I’m not alone.

Our generation has lost so many important talents and skills. Technology makes it easier for us, but in some ways, it takes away our independence. Maybe that’s one reason we love to read (and write!) historical romance. We can go back in time vicariously without having to live through all the hardships and trials of everyday life, experiencing only the top layer of what must have been difficult, by our standards, every moment.

Does anyone know how to cut up a chicken anymore? My mother did. I remember her getting out the wickedest looking knife I’d ever seen every Sunday and cutting up a chicken to fry. They had started to sell cut-up chickens in the store, but they were more expensive. Mom wouldn’t have dreamed of paying extra for that. By the time I began to cook for my family, I didn’t mind paying that extra money—I couldn’t bear to think of cutting a chicken up and then frying it.

It’s all relative. My mom, born in 1922, grew up in a time when the chickens had to be beheaded, then plucked, then cut up—so skipping those first two steps seemed like a luxury, I’m sure. I wouldn’t know how to begin to cut up a chicken. I never learned how.

Hog killing day was another festive occasion. Because my husband was raised on a farm, he and my mother had a lot of similar experiences to compare (this endeared him to her in later years.) Neighbors and family would gather early in the day. The hog would be butchered, and the rest of the day would be spent cutting and packing the meat. When my husband used to talk about the “wonderful sausage” his mother made, I was quite content to say, “Good for her. I’m glad you got to eat that when you were young.” (There’s no way I would ever make sausage.)

Medical issues? I was the world’s most nervous mother when I had my daughter. But being the youngest in the family, I had a world of experience to draw on. I also had a telephone and I knew how to use it! I called my mom or one of my sisters about the smallest thing. I can’t imagine living in one of the historical scenarios that, as writers, we create with those issues. The uncertainty of having a sick child and being unable to do anything to help cure him/her would have made me lose it. I know this happened so often and was just accepted as part of life, but to me, that would have been the very worst part of living in a historical time. I had a great aunt who lost all three of her children within one week to the flu. She lost her mind and had to be institutionalized off and on the rest of her life.

Sweet Texas ChristmasMy mother was the eldest of eleven children. She often said with great pride that her mother had had eleven children and none of them had died in childhood. I didn’t realize, when I was younger, how important and odd that really was for those times. My father’s mother had five children, two of whom died as children, and two more that almost died, my father being one of them.

It was a case of my grandmother thinking he was with my granddad, and him thinking three-year-old Freddie was with her. By the time they realized he was missing, the worst had happened. He had wandered to the pond and fallen in. It was a cold early spring day. Granddad had planted the fields already, between the pond and the house. A little knit cap that belonged to little Freddie was the only evidence of where he’d gone. It was floating on top of the water. By some miracle, my granddad found him and pulled him up out of the water. He was not breathing. Granddad ran with him back to the house, jumping the rows of vegetables he’d planted. The doctor later told him that was probably what saved Dad’s life—a very crude form of CPR.

Could you have survived in the old west? What do you think would have been your greatest worry? What would you hate to give up the most from our modern way of life? I’m curious to know, what skills or talents to you think we have lost generationally over the last 100 years? Be sure to leave a comment along with your contact information for a chance to WIN A DIGITAL COPY OF SWEET TEXAS CHRISTMAS!

I’m not sure I would have lived very long, or very pleasantly. I know one thing—my family would never have eaten sausage, unless they had breakfast at the neighbor’s house.

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My latest WHR novella, KIDNAPPING KALLI, appears in the PRAIRIE ROSE PUBLICATIONS Christmas anthology, SWEET TEXAS CHRISTMAS. This anthology contains four SWEET Christmas tales that mention a sweet Christmas treat somewhere in the story–and the recipes for those wonderful goodies are also included. My heroine, Kalli, is half-Cherokee, half-Irish. She makes Cherokee fry bread–and if you’ve never had good, hot fry bread you don’t know what you’re missing! Other authors in this anthology are Stacey Coverstone, Sarah J. McNeal, and Marie Piper.

What happens when a former Texas Ranger is hired to kidnap the daughter of a wealthy landowner–or else? He does it–but then finds himself in quite a predicament. Here’s what happens when he goes for water in the darkness:


As Shiloh neared the creek, he stepped on something in the darkness. He heard the rattles just as the surprised snake sank its fangs into the side of his leg, two inches above the top of his right boot.

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” He stepped back quickly, his mind only just now absorbing the fact he’d been struck—and there was no doubt, it was a rattler. No point in trying to shoot it—he couldn’t see in the darkness. He pulled the matches out and struck one, but the snake had slithered away.

Numbly, he knelt and filled the coffee pot. Probably the last brew he’d have in this world.

Stuck in the mountains with a girl he’d kidnapped who spoke no English. Damn it. He’d not figured on living to a ripe old age, but sure as hell hadn’t thought to cash it all in at twenty-eight, either.

As he hurriedly stumbled back into the firelight, he saw Kalliroe had spread his bedroll on the ground near the fire and was adding more wood.

She glanced up, and instantly was on her feet, running to him, taking the coffee pot from his nerveless fingers. So much for keeping calm—she’d read something on his face—and he hoped to hell it wasn’t the harsh terror he felt. He tried to calm himself.

“Kalli…listen…I got snakebit—a rattler—” He pointed to the place in his denims where the fangs had penetrated. Would she light a shuck out of here? Leave him to die alone? He couldn’t blame her if she did, could he?

Maybe…dammit. If he could only make her understand why he’d taken her…for a father that loved her…

“There’s…a cave a couple more miles from here, but I’m not sure if it’s clear—safe—got animals in it—” He was talking fast, trying to get it all said—and for what? She didn’t understand. And she wouldn’t be needing shelter—she’d be heading back to Talihina…

Was she even listening? Of course not. Time was running out. Snow was on the way, now—he could smell it.

“Show me,” she said.

He cocked his head, wondering if the venom was working on him already. But she’d rolled up his bedroll and had begun to put the fire out. She gathered the wood they’d not used yet, and located a rope on his saddle, lashing it together quickly and tying it to her horse.

Pouring the water into their canteens to fill them, she looked at him again. “We need to go,” she said softly.

“Shiloh. Shiloh Barrett.” He moistened dry lips. “Just in case.”

Impatiently, she shook her head, understanding he thought she might need to know his name for the undertaker. “Let’s go, Shiloh Barrett. I will help you. And you will tell me what this is all about. 

• ? •

I’m giving away two digital copies of SWEET TEXAS CHRISTMAS, but just in case you can’t wait to see if you won, here’s the link!   http://amzn.to/2hrasn5



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A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work: http://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 40 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here: fabkat_edit@yahoo.com
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  1. I don’t know how they did it back then. They were definitely some strong people. Such harsh conditions. To lose a child is something I can’t even imagine. I’d have to say I think people have lost the ability to communicate personally because everyone is either texting or online. When I’m out somewhere like a restaurant it’s sad to see a couple using their cell phones . No one is talking with each other or interacting.
    Carol Luciano

    • Hi Carol,
      I often wonder how they survived and carried on–especially after a child died, and so many did back then. Or, remembering when my own two were born, the difficulties I had and ended up having an emergency C-section with my first–to think of traveling in a covered wagon with your family, worrying about what would become of them if something should happen to you or your husband…I really don’t know if I would have been able to have “gone West” and left a civilized life behind. And I agree about the cellphones. Unbelievable, almost to see where we were and where we’ve come to in such a short time. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I think I could have survived. I find we are versatile as people and adapt to what we need. However, I am not sure I would have survived as I have significant allergies. My daughter would not have been here either as she was born with the cord around her neck. I sometimes dislike how we have moved in terms of comfort but am grateful for other.

    • Debra, I had really bad allergies growing up–had to take shots for them, and that was relatively new back in the 60’s. And yes, the dangers of childbirth to the baby and to the mother! Something to really consider if you had older kids that would be having to do without a mother if something happened. I agree–we have a lot of “conveniences” that have made for us to be more and more isolated and do without human interaction–that’s really sad to me, but I’m really grateful for some of the other things we’ve developed.

  3. Good morning Cheryl I believe I can live in the old west as I would be more tomboy then lady and I think we have lost a lot of preparing our own foods, we all rely own grocery stores and therefore that’s why the sicknesses up so much all the preservatives in our food. I think learning to live without electricity after he lived with that so long would be hard and hot running water where we could take Bathes and showers when we want. You have a fantastic day and a wonderful Thanksgiving !

    • Hi Tonya! I was always a tomboy growing up–climbed trees, played ball, etc. Back then, I probably COULD have survived. LOL Now, I’m not so sure. I would certainly miss hot running water and indoor toilets. Just sayin’…LOL

      Hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful too! XOXO

  4. I’m sure that I could have survived the Old West if I didn’t have MS like I do now. Of course, I think MS wasn’t around back then. I think it came about with preservatives, chemicals and such. I would hate to give up inside plumbing. We’ve lost so so many things generationally. As a whole we would have a hard time surviving if something happened to take away our lives as we know it. Many people these days do not know how to hunt for food, grow a garden, cook, search for water that is healthy enough to drink, build a shelter or many survival skills.

    • Stephanie, my aunt had MS, too. I wish we knew more about what causes so many of our diseases and illnesses–you could be right about the chemicals and preservatives. I remember Mom telling me that her father would not eat margarine when it came out–only BUTTER. He said it wasn’t natural. I don’t eat much of it either. I think kids should be taught in elementary school on up how to grow food, harvest it and prepare it, and how to survive in other ways–just as a means of helping them feel good about learning these things and being able to do them in case they ever needed to.

  5. My husband and I milked cows and farmed for over 30 years and it wasn’t a super modern dairy so I know the importance of strength, endurance, hard work and ingenuity and I could have probably endured. I do think that the lack of access to medical treatment would be my greatest fear. We Americans are very blessed in the “luxuries” we enjoy every day!
    Thanks for sharing about your family and especially your dad.

    • Connie, I’m sure that 30 years of farming was AWFULLY hard work! And I agree with you–my greatest fear would be the lack of the medical knowledge and treatments we have today. Though it seems like we still have such a long way to go in learning about medicines, I have to think back on stories that I heard from my parents and grandparents about their lives and realize we really have become accustomed to so much more in the way of medicine.

  6. Wow, what a story about your dad! But yes, that wasn’t all that uncommon back in those days. I have heard many stories like that from my parents and grand parents. You nailed it when you said it is what we don’t have to do that is worth paying for. (like you NOT having to cut up the chicken) I grew up on a dairy farm and we couldn’t afford much of anything. Don’t get me wrong – I never wanted for anything and I thought it was a grand life. But now I like to have some of those conveniences around me just because I didn’t back then. When you really think about it, yes it seems dumb. Haha! I think I would have survived I just wouldn’t have been too happy about it. It is heart breaking to know how many children had died young. Both sides of my family in past generations has tales to tell of siblings dying young. It was common.
    I do get sad thinking about those skills we are losing because we don’t need them. I am teaching my kids all to sew, knit and crochet just so another generation can do it. I don’t want to see that lost!

    • Susan, your upbringing sounded somewhat like my husband’s–he grew up on a small farm/homestead in the mountains of West Virginia. His family grew most everything they ate, including livestock. They didn’t have a lot of money for anything, but they did have plenty to eat. He can remember when they got indoor plumbing.

      I’m so glad to know you are taking the time to teach your children to swe, knit and crochet. I learned to sew (of course, back then we looked forward to taking “home-ec” in high school.) And my mother was a wizard with a sewing machine. She could make anything. I learned how to crochet from a co-worker in WV–and I taught my daughter how to do it. My niece taught her how to knit. I can see why so many older people think this generation is spoiled–but to be fair, when it’s all you’ve known, you DO take it for granted. Good on you for passing along your skills!

  7. My father was the eldest of 11 children also. I think I could have endured back then it would have been rough but I believe I could have done all right. I would miss electricity and todays bathrooms which we didn’t have when I was a kid. We had the outhouse until I was about ten. Today I would miss the bathroom and the electricity.

    • Oh, yes, Quilt Lady. I would definitely have missed electricity and indoor plumbing, for sure! Along with the medical advances. I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been to have such a large family during such desperate times. As a parent, I know I would have spent many sleepless nights just wondering what the next day would bring and if I’d be able to put a meal on the table for that many.

  8. I think I could have survived, but I have to say that the convenience of things today make things so much easier… back then they did what they had to and used what was available…

    • You’re right, Colleen. We might THINK we couldn’t survive, but plenty of people did and life went on. We are tougher than we think.

  9. Yes but my 2 biggest concerns would of been the cold (staying warm) and food learning to kill for meat or preserve the vegetables for the winter. Some winters were colder than others and in some cases the animals did freeze to death.

    • I know, Kim. I don’t know if I could kill for meat. Going to the grocery store has isolated us from the reality of KILLING something, dressing it out and cooking it properly. Not to mention, as you said, preserving it for later on and not worrying about food poisoning. And I’m afraid I wouldn’t get much done in the winter except standing in front of the fire! LOL

  10. While I love to read stories and watch movies set in the far past, I’m very thankful not to live then. I much prefer modern medical advances, medications (there’s a reason Claire takes antibiotics back in time with her in Outlander), better hygiene and indoor plumbing. All those stories often romanticize the past, too. We love the romantic ideal backdrop without the ugly/stinky realities.

    • Trish, I remember thinking, “Smart woman, Claire!” LOL I would take antibiotics back with me, too. And you are so right–we love to romanticize the past but living there would be a totally different story, wouldn’t it? LOL Thanks for coming by!

  11. Hi, Cheryl. We raised chickens for 4-H, 50 at a time. I hated the day we butchered them all. Messy, noisy, and once I got chased by a chicken with no head. My poor mom was in the basement gutting them and had one squawk at her. Plucking is a big mess. I can cut up a chicken. There isn’t much to it. We never raised anything but the chickens, but when I was in the Peace Corps, the place I stayed raised pigs. More times than I care to remember, I had a pig or a goat slaughtered outside my room’s window. They hold it down and slit it’s throat. They collect the blood to use for cooking. Unfortunately, it is a noisy, not fast death. We can’t condemn them for that is the way to do it so they don’t lose any food value. We have made jerky and sausage here. I can, pickle, and dry food. We have a decent garden. Tried my hand at wine once but it needs improvement.
    We were pretty much on our own at our assignments in the Peace Corps. We had a first aid kit, but nothing stronger than aspirin. We did have to be careful because cuts, etc. can get infected easily. Most is common sense. Don’t drink questionable water, eat food that might be spoiled (I did get food poisoning once), or get careless. Depending on your assignment it could be hours or days before you could get to a doctor you could trust. I will say I became a bit of a worrier once I had children. You do rely on medical care if it is available. Our son hates going to the doctor and will stitch himself up before he will let me take him in. He does better work than the doctor did which is why he’ll take care of himself. I would hate to think of life without antibiotics. There are so many things that can make life miserable or deadly that antibiotics can take care of.
    So many people today have little knowledge of where their food comes from and how it is processed. If there were no take out, can openers, freezers, or microwaves, they would starve. It is sad the number of people who can not cook. We made sure our children all learned to be pretty good cooks. They also know how to take care of themselves in emergency situations or in the wilderness. They can make a fire and cook over it. Thankfully we can all survive pretty well without modern conveniences if we had to. But we do like our conveniences. I have noticed as we get older how much more reliant we are on electricity and other things we take for granted.
    My mom was one of nine children and all survived. She was the first to die, of cancer, at 47. My dad was one of seven. He lost a brother who died of a ruptured appendix at 6.
    Thanks for an interesting post. Made me think. Yes I do think we would survive in the West. However, I’ll take the 21st century and the comforts it offers.

    • Patricia, I applaud you for the teaching you gave your children in being able to survive. My daughter was in Girl Scouts for a while, and I was the leader–I had no clue what I was doing, but thankfully, a little girl moved in about 2 weeks after we had started whose mother and grandmother were big in scouting and both had done it all their lives–not only did that make it more fun, it really took a weight off my shoulders. Though I had directions on how to do a lot of the camping things we were going to do, I had NO experience (my parents were NOT campers, at all)and Sherry (the mom with all the experience) knew so much it made everything more interesting and fun to do. I think I was as proud as the girls were when I ate my breakfast made with a buddy burner! LOL Thanks so much for stopping by! I always enjoy your posts, dear friend.

  12. I would miss air conditioning. As hot and humid as it gets, and also the layers of clothes they had to wear, can’t imagine how they didn’t pass out all the time.

    • Linda, I would, too! Heck I can’t sleep at night without the ceiling fan turned on, even in the winter. And in the summer in Oklahoma???? But, I will say, growing up in the 60’s, we only had 2 window units in our house that we used sparingly due to the electric bill, and an attic fan that we used at night. We have definitely become acclimated and spoiled in having air conditioning, and I would miss it terribly if we didn’t have it.

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