Donna's Diary Posts

Recent Posts
My Favorite Books
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 ....

Home life, Our Generations Before Us

December 31, 2018

Charles and I have started a new study.  We are moving further back in time.  We are changing things up a bit and instead of studying one year we will be doing a study of 1900 to 1939.

Our brains are a bit exhausted right now because it has been a lot of research getting ready for this year.

Our past 4 years have been studying the home front during world war 2.  This time we are going to nestle down in 1932 but we will start in 1900 looking back to how our Generations before us lived.  We had to go further back because to be adults in 1932 we needed to understand what their life would have been like leading up to 1932.

Charles and I have made many discoveries and found many surprises that changed how we thought about the past. 

Charles and I wanted to know how our Grandparents and Great Grandparents lived.  We heard their stories but we wanted to know more.

We will follow their paths as best we can to see what life looked like during this time from 1900 to 1939.  

I had a lot of confusion with what we read about the towns and cities in the early days.  I read about the modern buildings and electricity that came from coal and dams. Early electricity.  It sounded modern until I dug through some old photos Charles and I have and here was a picture of our City of Dothan in 1905.  

Wagons that rattled along the streets, some filled with cotton as the gins were busy stripping the seed.  For the time it was a busy thriving town.

After all my reading it came to me that the railroad was the lifeline to this small growing town.

Above fire wagon on one of our streets here in Dothan.

It did not take long until there were brick and cement streets.

What I really wanted to know is what did they do at home and how they cooked and washed dishes? Where did they go to the bathroom and how did they live without all the modern things of today?  The more I read the more I was confused because the way people lived was all about where they lived.  Did they live rural, on a farm?  Did they live in town or further north in the United States in larger cities?  

Most of our families farmed but there were a few that did live in cities. We find my Great Grandfather as an engineer at a saw mill in Tennessee beginning our study of 1900.  They had 4 children 4 of their soon to be 9 children.

In my mind I always thought that the further back in time people must have had it really bad.  I remember my Grandparents house in Mississippi during the 1950s and it was an old wood house, a tall wood house with an outhouse. I couldn't imagine how things were further back in time but I did not take into consideration the events that took place up until that time.

Charles and I studied the national archives and found that average annual income in 1918 was better than 1950.  Where you research you get different figures but we stuck with the national archives. 

1918, $1,518.00 per year.  Average cost of house $6,187.00

1930, $1,368.00. per year                                           $7,145.00

1935, $474.00. per year   (this figure is shocking)  $3,450.00

1945, $1,223.00.  per year                                          $2,938.00

1950, $1,501.00.  per year                                           $7,354.00

All I could say was wow!  Oh my!  I just can't imagine what 1935 was like.   Now I understand the horror stories of the struggles of the great depression.

Now of course some made more and some made less, this was the average.

World war 1 was from 1914 to 1918, the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918 and then there was a financial boom just after world war one and that financial boom was during the 1920s. Then the great depression (1929 through 1939), then world war two which began for the USA in 1941 and ended around 1945,  then the Korean war which was 1950 to 1953.

It was difficult for the economy and even though there were actually more jobs during ww2 there was less supply of goods and rationing. 

So our families that lived from the 1900s into their older years had been through a lot of financial turmoil and hardships.   No wonder they were so strong. 

So how was I going to figure out what the inside of a home looked like and how they lived during 1900 and 1939?  I went to the old journal.

Pictures inside of home during these years are hard to come by because there was no flash with the cameras like we have today.  Most photos were taken outside. There was a flash for family photos but a large flash thing they used. 

Charles and I spent some money and purchased very old 1925 and 1932 Montgomery Ward catalogs and we were gifted a wonderful 1944 Spiegel catalog thanks to my friend Daisy.  Back in those days these Catalogs were very important as many people ordered goods. We also have a 1915 Grocery catalog which is very interesting.  During the times we are studying people also had goods delivered such as ice and groceries. First by wagon then by truck, a very non modern truck that bounced around on dirt roads depending where you lived.  Also depending on where you lived and what year in our study is in a local food store would have been a mercantile, a market, a general store or a grocery store. 

We went to the newspaper archives and old books to find what it looked like in the USA.

I will be sharing and showing you what we found. We could not afford the 1900 or 1916 catalogs so I researched and found a website you can see the Montgomery Ward Catalog of 1916 page by page.  This can be your homework if you wish to see it.  There is a place on the lower right side where you can change to a single page or double page and enlarge to read the print and see the pictures up close.  About half way through the catalog the housewares will come in.  This will give you a sense of what was available during the early 1916. A warning, these catalogs are huge!  Ours are anywhere from 100 pages to 700 pages so that is a lot of looking. I did not notice how many the 1916 is but it is big. 

I am working out the home so we can do our year study.  We are making changes in how we do things.  We know we have to live very simple.

I will be sharing many old recipes I have found and it looks like laundry will be the old way this year again.

Charles bought me a depression glass cookie jar and said it was mine if I filled it with cookies. :) Now I am telling him it all depends on the budget. :)

It should be an interesting year with a very tight budget, doing things the old way and finding easy on the budget meals.

I will close with this and now you will know what we will be doing.

Here is the link to the 1916 catalog.

I will be back as soon as I get my thoughts together again.  If you have questions send an email, please keep the questions simple if you will so I can give simple answers.  I am just a simple Grandma. :) 

If you want to send a letter the old way send it to:

Grandma Donna

P.O. Box 1634

Dothan, Alabama 36302

Happy New Year to all, Grandma Donna

Sign up for email promotions.
Your information is safe with us and won't be shared.
Thank you for signing up!
Loading More Photos
Scroll To Top
Close Window