By Lily Kongslien
Special to the Star Journal
Comparisons are made many times to prove a point, but comparisons can also help us to appreciate what blessings we are presently enjoying. With cold winters and hot summers, it is a pleasant thing to especially enjoy our conveniences and this can be done by thinking back to childhood days and then being thankful that those days were “learning” times and were not so “hard” after all.
Homes were not as warm and comfortable as today; getting up in the morning in a cold bedroom and getting dressed in front of the open oven door of the old kitchen range was a daily occurrence in the winter. Getting layers of heavy clothing on, and being bundled so that only our eyes were uncovered was a necessity in the cold Wisconsin winters, as we walked or skied several miles to a rural school where the heat was just beginning to thaw out the cold within the high-ceilinged un-insulated classroom. We didn’t have warm school bus rides then. Kids now don’t have to be dressed so warmly, as they don’t have to trudge through high snow-drifts or face the chilling north winds with only a few steps to the bus.
We no longer have the one-room schools but we have the modern buildings with uniform heat in the winter and air-conditioning for the hottest spring days.
How often are we thankful for the bright electric lights we have today? Do you recall the “yellow” light from the old kerosene lamps? Before we got an electric line into our home, kerosene lamps were in each room for use at night and on dark days. We did have gasoline lamps for reading, close work, and doing our homework on school nights. Meals cooked on the old kitchen range were far superior to those prepared on gas or electric stoves today. Maybe it was the “simmering” on top of the range or “mother’s love” that made meals quite tasty! Even a microwave does not compare to back then. Then the smell of freshly laundered clothes dried in the sun and fresh sun-dried sheets on your bed – Downy today does alright but nothing compares to those days.
Would you like a fresh salad for dinner? We didn’t go to the store; we went to our garden and picked the ingredients we needed. Do you recall the taste of ice cold well water on a hot summer day? We had to work for it to come out of the well but it was worth it. Today we buy bottled spring water that almost rates up to well water. Need eggs to bake a cake or chives for an omelet? A trip to the chicken coop and a stop at the garden supplied our needs.
We take our refrigerators for granted, but I can’t forget the many trips to the old root cellar for fresh milk and cream. In the winter our refrigerator was the back porch. We used it for left over milk and meats. Butchering was done in the fall and the cold weather and some use of the root cellar did suffice for safe keeping of venison and beef.
Then we come to bath time. You all know about the portable wash tub and its use on Saturday nights. A bath was required every Saturday night young and old in summer and winter. It’s nice today to be able to wash your hair and shower when we want. In the summer time it was fun because we thought we could bathe in the river but we were told we still needed a “real” washing on Saturday. Warm water, hot water, any time any amount is a necessity today not a luxury. We had to pump our water and warm it on the stove when we needed it. Modern heating and cooling devices can’t be beat. We carried wood into the wood boxes all the time in summer and winter.
There were daily learning tasks for us not only in the classroom but at home too. Sometimes I look back and see a definite reason for all these tasks and hard learned lessons growing up. I guess I can say these experiences made us what we are today.