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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Here Are 11 Skills Your Great-Grandparents Had That You Don’t

Those of us who write historical fiction are always striving to make sure our characters are part of the time period in which our novels are set. A farmer in 19th Century Kansas, for example, had to know how to hunt and fish, how to forage and how to butcher livestock, clean chickens, and shoe a horse, etc.


There were no supermarkets, no computers or online shopping, no clothing stores or malls. Yes, there were Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs where women could order ready-made dresses and men could order pants and shirts, but ordering from them was considered an infrequent luxury.

I recently received an e-mail from Ancestry.com, the online genealogy service that asked: 

"How old school are you? Do you think you've got what it takes to live in your great-grandparents' era?"

I was intrigued by this question, having just completed the first book in a trilogy of novels, the first of which is set in the late 19th Century American West. As someone who spent time on a farm, who hunted and fished and cleaned hundreds of chickens, rabbits and squirrels, I figured I would be OK if I were suddenly transported to my great-grandparents' time.

But there was more to living back then than hunting and fishing. Life was much, much harder and so were the people.

Take a look at what Ancestry.com had to say:

Our parents and grandparents may shake their heads every time we grab our smart phones to get turn-by-turn directions or calculate the tip. But when it comes to life skills, our great-grandparents have us all beat. Here are some skills our great-grandparents had 90 years ago that most of us don’t.

1. Courting
While your parents and grandparents didn’t have the option to ask someone out on a date via text message, it’s highly likely that your great-grandparents didn’t have the option of dating at all. Until well into the 1920s, modern dating didn’t really exist. A gentleman would court a young lady by asking her or her parents for permission to call on the family. The potential couple would have a formal visit — with at least one parent chaperone present — and the man would leave a calling card. If the parents and young lady were impressed, he’d be invited back again and that would be the start of their romance.


2. Hunting, Fishing, and Foraging
Even city dwellers in your great-grandparents’ generation had experience hunting, fishing, and foraging for food. If your great-grandparents never lived in a rural area or lived off the land, their parents probably did. Being able to kill, catch, or find your own food was considered an essential life skill no matter where one lived, especially during the Great Depression.

3. Butchering
In this age of the boneless, skinless chicken breast, it’s unusual to have to chop up a whole chicken at home, let alone a whole cow. Despite the availability of professionally butchered and packaged meats, knowing how to cut up a side of beef or butcher a rabbit from her husband’s hunting trip was an ordinary part of a housewife’s skill set in the early 20th century. This didn’t leave the men off the hook, though. After all, they were most likely the ones who would field dress any animals they killed.

4. Bartering
Before the era of shopping malls and convenience stores, it was more common to trade goods and services with neighbors and shop owners. Home-canned foods, hand-made furniture, and other DIY goods were currency your great-grandparents could use in lieu of cash.

Before Clothes Dryers There was the Sun

5. Haggling
Though it’d be futile for you to argue with the barista at Starbucks about the price of a cup of coffee, your great-grandparents were expert hagglers. Back when corporate chains weren’t as ubiquitous, it was a lot easier to bargain with local shop owners and tradesmen. Chances are your great-grandparents bought very few things from a store anyway.
  
6. Darning and mending
Nowadays if a sock gets a hole in it, you buy a new pair. But your great-grandparents didn’t let anything go to waste, not even a beat-up, old sock. This went for every other article of clothing as well. Darning socks and mending clothes was just par for the course.

7. Corresponding by mail
Obviously, your great-grandparents didn’t text or email. However, even though the telephone existed, it wasn’t the preferred method of staying in touch either, especially long-distance. Hand-written letters were the way they communicated with loved ones and took care of business.

8. Making Lace
Tatting, the art of making lace, was a widely popular activity for young women in your great-grandparents’ generation. Elaborate lace collars, doilies, and other decorative touches were signs of sophistication. However, fashion changed and technology made lace an easy and inexpensive to buy, so their children probably didn’t pick up the skill.

Tatting, the Art of Making Lace


9. Lighting a Fire Without Matches
Sure, matches have been around since the 1600s. But they were dangerous and toxic — sparking wildly out of control and emitting hazardous fumes. A more controllable, non-poisonous match wasn’t invented until 1910. So Great-grandma and Great-grandpa had to know a thing or two about lighting a fire without matches.

10. Diapering With Cloth
Disposable diapers weren’t commonly available until the 1930s. Until then, cloth diapers held with safety pins were where babies did their business. Great-grandma had a lot of unpleasant laundry on her hands.

11. Writing With a Fountain Pen
While it’s true that your grandparents were skilled in the lost art of writing in cursive, your grandparents probably were, too. However, the invention of the ballpoint pen in the late 1930s and other advances in pen technology mean that your great-grandparents were the last generation who had to refill their pens with ink.

Thanks to Ancestry.com for sharing this. I hope it helps you realize how easy you have it today compared to 100 years ago.

Here is a link to Ancestry.com's website:  http://home.ancestry.com

Saturday, January 3, 2015

"JESSICA: PART 2" Blog Tour!

Periodically, my blog participates in virtual book tours which allow authors to showcase their books to a broader audience. Today I am hosting fellow author Jeffrey Von Glahn whose non-fiction book "Jessica: The Autobiography of an Infant," is available on Amazon. The blog tour is sponsored by 4WillsPublishing.wordpress.com. (see relevant links below)

Jeffrey Von Glahn
Jeffrey Von Glahn has been a psychotherapist for 45 years, and counting. He says that experience has been, and continues to be, more exciting and fulfilling than he had ever imagined. 

BOOK BLURB:

      Jessica had always been haunted by the fear that the unthinkable had happened when she had been “made-up.” For as far back as she could remember, she had no sense of a Self. Her mother thought of her as the “perfect infant” because “she never wanted anything and she never needed anything.” As a child, just thinking of saying “I need” or “I want” left her feeling like an empty shell and that her mind was about to spin out of control. Terrified of who––or what––she was, she lived in constant dread over being found guilty of impersonating a human being. 

      Jeffrey Von Glahn, Ph.D., an experienced therapist with an unshakable belief in the healing powers of the human spirit, and Jessica, blaze a trail into this unexplored territory. As if she has, in fact, become an infant again, Jessica remembers in extraordinary detail events from the earliest days of her life––events that threatened to twist her embryonic humanness from its natural course of development. Her recollections are like listening to an infant who could talk describe every psychologically dramatic moment of its life as it was happening. 

      When Dr. Von Glahn met Jessica, she was 23. Everyone regarded her as a responsible, caring person – except that she never drove and she stayed at her mother’s when her husband worked nights. 

      For many months, Jessica’s therapy was stuck in an impasse. Dr. Von Glahn had absolutely no idea that she was so terrified over simply talking about herself. In hopes of breakthrough, she boldly asked for four hours of therapy a day, for three days a week, for six weeks. The mystery that was Jessica cracked open in dramatic fashion, and in a way that Dr. Von Glahn could never have imagined. Then she asked for four days a week – and for however long it took. In the following months, her electrifying journey into her mystifying past brought her ever closer to a final confrontation with the events that had threatened to forever strip her of her basic humanness.

BLOG POST:

     This excerpt is from the Prologue. It describes how my view of infants was changed forever by Jessica’s revelations about her own infancy.

     Listening to Jessica during therapy sessions was the same as listening to an infant who could talk describe in vivid detail every psychologically dramatic moment of its life as it was happening. As a result, my perception of infants was radically altered. I will never again think of them as simple little beings primarily interested in eating and sleeping. They are far more complex than I had ever imagined. When I am now in an infant’s presence, I am acutely conscious that an active force in the world is before me. What I say and how I act will be watched with great interest by a mind that, though not as developed as mine, is probably more curious about the world and definitely more sensitive to it.

     Infants, especially newborns, pull me toward them with what seems like an irresistible power. 
  
     Whenever I see one of these brand-new human beings, I must fight my urge to drop whatever I’m doing and immediately rush to its side. In my fantasy, I see myself slow down as I approach my goal and unhurriedly cover the last bit of distance. I close in with the most incredibly joyous smile anyone has ever seen. My eyes bulge in unabashed delight, while my smile and eyes speak for me. They speak the language of infancy, a life rich in feelings, hopes, dreams, potential, and an insatiable curiosity about the world. It is a life as exciting and intriguing as anything adults can even imagine.

     My eyes and smile express the words I would like to say:

     Yes, I know how powerful your mind is. I know what new information about yourself and the world you are trying to figure out. I know what fundamental psychological processes are happening inside of you. If you could talk, I know what wonderfully exciting details you would tell us about your life.      
  
     My journey with Jessica seems—even now, after it’s over—more a flight of fancy, an excursion into science fiction, than a real-life story. Had I not been a fellow traveler who saw and heard everything with my own eyes and ears, I would certainly exclaim, “How interesting! I wish I could think of a clever story like that!”

PURCHASE LINKS:


CONTACT INFO:

Twitter:  @JeffreyVonGlahn

***This tour was sponsored by 4WillsPublishing.wordpress.com  To book your own tour, please contact us.***