About gDonna
The photo is my son and myself. Now days you can get a photo made to look old like this one. This photo was taken when this was the new look.

Harry S Truman was president when I was born and world war II had ended. I grew up in a time when lunch was put in a brown paper bag and a sandwich was wrapped with wax paper. There was no such thing as pantyhose, we wore stockings that attached to the rubbery clippy things that attached to the girdle. Convenience stores were not common and when we took a trip we packed a picnic basket because many places did not have fast food. Highways had places to pull over and stop, some with picnic tables. Read more ....
 

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My move South

September 9, 2022

When I was a thirteen-year-old city girl, I  thought that I knew a lot about living the old way because of being around my family that lived in Mississippi. 

But then my mother and I moved to south Alabama, and that is when I felt I had really gone back in time. Since I am now considered living long ago, back in time to me was really back in time. :)

We moved to a small rural town in west Covington County.  There was electricity in the house that we moved in and it had running water because we lived in a small town that had water.  But many people lived outside of town and did not have electricity, and their homes were not wired for electricity or plumbing.  You would not have seen a wall outlet in those homes.

Life was confusing for me because there were cars and modern things and then horses and wagons were still being used.  A Farmer's truck was generally a 1940s model. 

The future in-laws that I mentioned in the last post that just had a power line pulled to their house moved shortly after they got their first electricity. 

 They moved to a small farm somewhat close to the small town and that new old farm did have electricity and running water and they had their first bathroom with a real toilet. There was a bathtub, a toilet, and a sink and the bathroom smelled like ivory soap. 

Running water and electricity was new to them and so only used what was needed. They still cooked on their wood-burning stove and were conservative with what they used. Nothing was wasted.  This is why I know just because it is running to us does not mean we have to use it.  If we do we can use it sparingly.  

They grew and raised most of their food. They grew all of their vegetables, raised chickens for eggs and meat,  raised hogs to butcher and also sell, and grew cotton to take to market, corn for them to eat, and for feed for the animals. 

They did not make a lot of money but what they did was used to buy staples such as flour and sugar, salt and baking soda, etc.  Money was also used for repairs or farm needs.  They also purchased the fabric at a discount mill so my mother-in-law could sew and sell dresses to make extra money.  She did the most beautiful sewing, smocking, and quilts. 

In the field, you would see corn, sugar cane, rows of turnips, okra, peas, beans, and almost any southern vegetable. They had a milk cow so they made butter, cheese, and buttermilk.  Summers were hot and busy and so they sat outside to shell butter beans and peas and shuck corn. Anytime we went for a visit we knew there would be an empty bowl and a chair to sit in to do some shelling or some kind of food preservation and that was a good thing. People helped out in those days. 

There was no phone at their house until later and no cable or internet because the internet and computers and all the technology were many years away.  They farmed a small farm and did what they needed to raise nine of the kindest, polite responsible, hard-working children. 

How many electric items do we have in our homes now?  We can judge by how full our wall outlets are and how high our electric bills are.  Our house is not going to make its own electric bill, it is what we plug in or turn on. 

Today we live a matter of convenience and we can convenience ourselves to a point that we can no longer afford to live in our homes.  

Katherine dreams of cooler weather.  

Most of my older relatives lived a sensible life not wasting and most of yours most likely lived sensibly if you are older like myself. They mended anything that could be mended and most likely kept a small can for grocery money.  I am not quite sure how we got to where we are today.  

They did not buy things as we have the past many years now and I feel we are more burdened today. 

Most of us have room for improvement which normally takes some work because most things sensible do require work to get back to sensible simple.  If we research history, we find people were very resilient.  Today we live in a very complicated time, long ago when I was younger things seemed more solid than they are now and I could write another post just talking about the multitude of bills today versus what a budget looked like long ago.  

But we have a choice in what we accept into our home that comes with a monthly fee. People are stressed today for many reasons.  We need to get back to basics and live a more simple and sensible life so we are more prepared to handle the big things.  

 I hope that sharing this with you has given you a new helpful perspective.  

Grandma Donna

 

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Comments (23)

Cindy

September 17, 2022 6:51 PM
It has been a while since I have posted to you. Just want you to know I am keeping up with your post and have introduced you to my 30 yo neighbor. I am teaching her handwork. She is amazed. One cool day we sat outside on the deck, her practicing her knitting and I read one of your posts. She thought you were endearing .
Thank you for your advice and time.

Stephenie

September 17, 2022 3:26 PM
That's so true. I find I need very little electricity. Our temperature in the CA mountains is comfortable right now. I light a fire in the evenings, as it does get colder. The insert in my fireplace spreads warmth through the cabin. The hand knit blankets, sweaters, and shawls keep my warm. It certainly helps to have a paid off home, drive older cars, and live somewhere walkable. Loved this post, Grandma Donna.

Lady Locust (JL ????)

September 16, 2022 6:24 PM
Donna, I think this is one of my favorite posts~ A quiet reminiscence full of wisdom. I am guilty of slipping backwards. I need to go around the house and pull everything from the plugs (except the fridge of course.)

Mirjam

September 15, 2022 9:54 AM
Dear Donna,
Thank you for another lovely and inspiring post! And I found it really nice to read the comments: they are also inspiring. I would love to simplify my life, house and household, but do not really succeed yet. There always seem to be distractions: children flowing the nest, parents getting ill or myself having a painful shoulder or something like that. But I’ll keep on trying. At the moment I live in a densely populated area, which always feels a kind of hectic and hysterical. My dream is to live a peaceful, simple life in a quiet place. Sometimes dreams come true…..
Love, Mirjam from the Netherlands

Elise Burnett

September 14, 2022 2:02 PM
I loved reading this post! I am very curious about how people budgeted in the past. I want to be wise and sensible in my budgeting. My husband and I do pretty well with it but I would love to hear more about how people spent and saved their money in the past.

Jill

September 13, 2022 6:42 PM
Debby, I can relate totally to your comments & have a very similar story. My grandparents were born in 1918. Everything you wrote is true about my grandparents as well and about how I felt when I was there. Loving, peaceful, simple, wonderful.
Grandma Donna, thank you as always. I am in my early 50's. No one in my family lives a simple life like I do. It is so wonderful knowing I am not alone
: )

Pam

September 13, 2022 9:07 AM
Reading your posts always gives me a feeling of "coming home" wheres reading the news always leaves me feeling a little lost and dishearted. Thank you for taking the time to share.
Blessings, Pam in Norway

GRANDMA DONNA

September 12, 2022 7:17 PM
Thank you to everyone that has been commenting on the new comment sections. Know that I am reading them all when they come into my admin. I am learning some new programs and being older it is taking me a little time so I am not replying much but I have read what you are saying and many of you are reading what others are saying and that is good. I am going to put up a post soon about what my hopes are for this new comment section. Hugs, Grandma Donna

Robin Sutton

September 12, 2022 4:04 PM
Donna, thank you for another heartwarming post! Reminds us of what we are capable of and should be doing!

Karen, I love your comment to Donna's post! It certainly resonates with me! Thank you for sharing!
Robin

Darlene Roudebush

September 11, 2022 9:38 PM
Hi Donna,

I think you said a few things that shows us how life was lived before. "Nothing was wasted". It was unthinkable to waste back in the 30's. My grandparents raised 12 children through the great depression years and my mother grew up knowing that waste was an awful thing. I grew up with a needlepoint on the kitchen wall, made by my mom saying, "Waste not, Want not".

You also said, "just because it's running to us does not mean we have to use it". It seems that nowadays, people feel they have to use the latest and greatest doodad on the market. No one seems to ask, "Do I really need this?". They just go out and get it because everyone else is.

But your words make us stop and think about what we really need to live a good life and how living simply can bring us a better and more joyful life than one of buying and consuming just to consume.

Simple and sensible are two good words to live by!

karen

September 11, 2022 1:51 PM
Both my parents were young adults during the Great Depression. They both served during WW11 and met and married in Japan. They went on and had 10 children, on one income. They were both very frugal. We always had our needs met but once we were young teenagers our wants were on us. My husband and I have more expendable income then they ever did but the last 10 years or so have found myself changing my spending habits in big ways. All of our parents/grandparents have passed on, and clearing out some of their homes was eye opening. And a real job because of the volume of belongings that had to be dealt with. Around the same time, I began volunteering in a non-profit in our community that runs a thrift store. All the proceeds of the sales are put back into our community in the form of emergency fund, grants to other non-profits (local food bank, etc) and scholarships. My last 13 years working with the volumes of items donated did it for me. It is astonishing the waste, the 'made in China' goods, all of it. I went through every room/closet/attic in our large home, removed everything in each space, donated 2/3's of it all, painted the rooms, and very selectively put the other 1/3 of the items back. The large attic remained empty, the rest of the items had to pass the test of
"would I mind cleaning this the rest of my life?" The time was such a growing process. I used to shop just because I could, not needing anything. My home is so much easier to clean, to put my hands on things, and reflects my taste, not Target's or Wayfair. We turned our large front yard into a beautiful vegetable garden, and I spend quite a bit of time in certain months handling the produce from that. In quieter times, like Winter, I take the needed sabbatical. I hibernate, read, nap, walk. I rarely watch tv, and if not for husband, would cancel cable. I try to hang my clothes to dry, reminds me of my mother. We stopped going out to eat at least 2x week, and have adopted a zero waste policy in the kitchen. I see that for us, this is the better approach to our older years. Donna, I have been inspired by a few blogs through the years and yours is one of my favorites. Your home reflects the two of you, as does your gardens, and recipes. I like history, and reading about yours and Charles endeavors, the diaries, is very interesting. Thank you for sharing your lives with all of us, and may God bless you both.

Debby in Kansas USA

September 11, 2022 9:11 AM
I got a good lesson in the olden ways by living with my grandparents (born in the 1910s) from 4-12 yrs. old. Without question, they are the reason I know money doesn't buy happiness! They had very little, their home and yards were small, but everything was lovely. Quiet. Peaceful. They were both quite handy. Grandpa could make or fix just about anything. Grandma did every sort of handiwork. They certainly weren't afraid of hard work. But they were so happy and content. I loved being with them!

Laura

September 11, 2022 6:06 AM
Hi Donna,
I also find that the standing charge for electricity and gas (which has almost doubled) is close to more than the actual fuel use. I have always lived with running water and electricity, being a child of the 60's. It has been too easy to be overly generous with the use of both gas and electric. Our costs are going up and times are getting harder, so I have to learn different ways that I have really little experience of. My mum cared for us during the 70's which was a time of blackouts and high food costs and low availability. But I never remember feeling that things were particularly hard. So she must have done a good job. Anyway, back to basics. We only have one TV and it is rarely on.

Michele

September 10, 2022 7:59 PM
I have really been trying to get our utility bills down but the things I’ve done haven’t made much difference, unfortunately. But I’m determined to keep trying.

I’m so glad you opened comments. Not only do I get to read your inspiring posts but the wonderfully insightful comments as well!

Jane

September 10, 2022 6:07 PM
Hi G'Ma Donna. We have only lived in town for the past ten years. For the twenty previous years we lived on a property where we grew most of our fruit and veg, had chooks for eggs and had a small herd of beef cattle. Here in town we are spoilt for choice with supermarkets a plenty. Bluey and I still keep a well stocked pantry and we grow most of our own fruit and veg. We also have some chooks for eggs. We have a bore, underground water supply, to water our gardens as we live in a dry, low rainfall area. I sew (I have both electric and treadle machines), knit, crochet, spin and preserve the harvest from our gardens. There are those that look at those skills and see them as old fashioned and a waste of time. I see them as ways to get us through the hard times.

Paula Alexandra Santos

September 10, 2022 11:16 AM
Hi, Grandma Donna!
Here at home, Nuno and I also try to waste and spend less and are always keeping an eye on alternative and clean energies.
I remember some things that my mother did to save electricity, and I try to do some of them, but I believe there's always room for improvement and I'm certainly learning more every time I read your posts!
Have a blessed week!
:)

Hilogene in Az

September 10, 2022 9:00 AM
Dear G’Donna,
Your comments are spot on. I am 66, and I remember my grandmother and great aunt discussing their youth and the depression, and how they lived more simply. I was thinking a few days ago of adding up the number of bills I get every month, or even categories of spending, to see what it looks like. I will do that today. We live below our means and have really focused on being debt free with low expenses, but your article today reminds me of further progress we can make. Thank you.

hopflower

September 10, 2022 7:58 AM
Our energy bill is low, too. In fact, often the "carrying charges" are more than the electricity and gas costs themselves! We switched over from a more expensive and problematic internet and phone service to one that is about half of what we used to pay. We do not go out to eat except on rare occasions like birthday celebrations, and I cook regularly here at home. I try to have a garden for vegetables, but I think we are all aware of how California is mostly on fire and the heat is getting worse. When we moved to this house eleven years ago I had many ideas and dreams of my garden. But it is fairly useless now. I learned many years ago how to live thriftily. as my mum lived on rations in England during WWII. She made many of my clothes and household things while I was growing up. I am not the seamstress she was; but I do try. Also, I tend to like the old ways better anyway. Wonderful post, and thank you!

Diana

September 10, 2022 6:18 AM
Amen! With their lifestyle compared to today’s lifestyle a we need to ask ourselves who was happier. I think perhaps television played a role and credit too in the downslope of life.

Katherine Minaker

September 10, 2022 12:52 AM
I learn so much from you here. I also work at living simpler as it is much more calming to me. I often think of my Grandmothers house and how things were always the same there. It was so well....dependable. She never worried about "decor" or changing things around. All was in place and she kept it the same. Seeing all the ads today to buy new and upgrade the home are crazy to me! If your home is safe and comfy and useful leave it alone I say. So many spend too much trying to get a new look when the old look was just fine. I am lucky to have some of her furniture and I cherish it all. Thank you for all you share with us here. It is appreciated!

Texasilver

September 10, 2022 12:16 AM
I did not live on a farm as a child. We lived in the city. My mother was a young widow with 4 children under the age of 7 when my father died. We did not waste $ and my mother made most of our clothes. We went out to eat only for a special occasion. I never lived in a place w/o electricity or indoor plumbing. I suppose we were privileged in that regard. My mother had a college education so I think that was our salvation. All 4 of us graduated college also. We grew up in the 60's & 70's.

Karen

September 9, 2022 11:44 PM
When I read this post and others i know I must try harder to not be so wasteful when it comes to electricity.
One must be mindful of a spouse if you don't live alone. If I did things would be much different as I would get rid of tv and clothes dryer and microwave and use lamps for light but life is what it is. As always I feel encouraged

TANDI

September 9, 2022 9:29 PM
Lovely post as always. I love the memories your share and always learn something new. My electricity bill is always very low and people can never believe it and always want to know how we do it. The main thing is we don't have a lot of technology items in our house. We don't have a TV, but I know most homes have more than 1 television, and they are on a lot of hours a day. That can add up. anyway, when we think of our consumption of things, we can make changes.
 
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