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DEAR DESCENDANTS
THEN AND NOW
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HISTORY'S MYSTERIES
THE ANSWER PAGE
WHERE THEY LIVED
THEN AND NOW
THESE RELATIVES ARE NOT ABSOLUTE
BACK TO ADAM
FAMILY MEMBER KENNETH BROOKS
FAMILY MEMBER ROZELLAH PETTY BROOKS
ROZELLAH'S EDUCATION
FAMILY MEMBER WILLIAM HENRY BROOKS
FAMILY MEMBER GRANDMA FANNIE
FAMILY MEMBER GEORGE BROOKS
FAMILY MEMBER EVA HANING BROOKS
FAMILY MEMBERS FRANK AND ANNIE HANING
FAMILY MEMBER WALTER PETTY
FAMILY MEMBER VIRLIE MASON PETTY
FAMILY MEMBER ANDREW JACKSON PETTY
FAMILY MEMBER SARAH ELIZABETH HINCHEY
THE LOVE STORIES
FURRY FAMILY MEMBERS
1936 NEWSPAPER
MEMORABILIA
MEMORABILIA II
FAMILY HEROES
VERSES
OUR MUSICAL FAMILY
OUR FISHING FAMILY
CHRISTMAS
CELEBRATIONS
RECIPES 1
RECIPES 2
GETTING GRANNY'S GOAT
TIDBITS
THE OIL BOOM
RESEARCHING MY FAMILY HISTORY
RESEARCHING MY FAMILY HISTORY, PAGE 2
ABOUT ME
FUTURE HEIRLOOMS

I am, without a doubt, now in the last half of my life. On this page I intend to look back at the way things were in my childhood and compare then and now. For reference in case this page survives to be read in later years, I was born in 1938 and I am writing this in 2001.

rubboard

THEN ideas about the proper way to care for a baby were very different from what they are now. In every generation, how-to books have been written about the subject. Here I will mention only the material objects associated with baby care. THEN every prospective mother used soft white flannel to make tiny belly bands. The bands were wrapped tightly around the infant's abdomen to protect the navel from injury until the stump of the umbilical cord fell off. THEN babies wore cloth diapers. They were usually large squares of a material called birdseye cotton which the mother folded to fit her child's bottom. THEN all babies wore dresses with dainty embroidered flowers. You could tell a boy baby because he would be wearing a blue dress. Girls, of course, wore pink. If the mother went against tradition and dressed her baby in white dresses with white embroidery (my own mother's preference) you would have to guess the gender or humble yourself and ask. THEN all baby bottles were made of glass and had to be carefully sterilized before being filled with formula. The formula was prepared at home according to the doctor's instructions. It was usually made from evaporated milk and corn syrup. In very early childhood, I once saw a baby being fed from a soda pop bottle with a rubber nipple stretched over its neck. THEN baby toys were simple. Plastic rattles and stuffed animals were about all the infant was considered to need for entertainment.

babybubbles

NOW parents can subscribe to a parenting magazine which will tell them what the current ideas on baby care are. Or they can be frugal and pick up the "freebies" that are in every obstetrician's waiting room and retail store's baby department. NOW the baby's healing belly button is paid little attention. A little antibiotic ointment is usually applied after the bath and the healing navel is kept clean and dry. NOW diapers are disposable. Hooray for progress! (Later I will describe how laundry was done. That laundry often included a dozen or more diapers.) NOW babies do not usually wear dresses. Boy babies and girl babies are dressed in coordinated outfits. Those outfits might very well be decorated with gender-specific print or embroidery but often they are unisex. NOW most mothers prefer to breast-feed but those who use bottles buy disposable ones. Plastic bags fit into holders usually shaped more or less like traditional baby bottles. Those holders do not have to be sterilized. Formula is bought by brand name at the grocery store. NOW most babies have a nursery full of toys before they are born. A theme, such as Winnie the Pooh, clowns, or teddy bears has usually been chosen. From the moment the child is brought home from the hospital, he or she is surrounded by bright-colored pictures, mobiles, and all kinds of toys. The baby will be royally entertained from birth. No need to wait until he or she can grasp a rattle or a teddy bear. The gizmo attached to the crib moves and makes noise as the baby kicks.

Clown

THEN it was as if there were only one city in the whole world. That was the city that had the same name as our state, Oklahoma. When anyone said, "I'm going to the City," there was no doubt which city was meant.

That's why a little boy in my math class was confused by a certain word problem. It said something like this:

To get to his job, Bob's father drives 20 miles to the city and 20 miles back home every day. If he works 5 days a week, how many miles does he drive in a week?

After the problem was read aloud, one of my classmates said, "But, teacher, it's more than 20 miles to The City." I don't remember that she laughed out loud, but I'm sure the teacher was amused at her student's ignorance.


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THEN children were allowed a break from studying at school. A period of time called "recess" in which they could play any games they liked. Some of their games were London Bridge, Drop the Handkerchief, Mother May I, and Tug of War. Children playing Tug of War in this illustration are from an earlier time, as evidenced by the way they are dressed.

smltgrntree.gif


THEN not every family had a telephone. Those that did had a black, bell-shaped phone. There were no dials at first. You picked up the telephone and heard a pleasant, feminine voice say, "Number, please." You gave the operator a number and she manually connected your phone with the one that had the number you gave her. I had a toy phone that imitated the real one. You slid a disk along a wire connected to it and a tinny, mechanical voice said, "Number, please."

blackphone

THEN most people who did their laundry at home had two choices. They could use the rubboard and washtub method pictured above or they could use a wringer-type washer pictured below. If clothes were not put through the wringer carefully, they could get wrapped around it instead of going through to the tub of rinse water. The rinse water was in the same type of tub that was used when washing on a rubboard. People who used the wringer-type had to be careful to keep their children out of the way. Many a small wrist or arm was broken because an inquisitive child stuck his hand in the wringer. Commercial laundries might have more modern facilities but the one I visited with my friend, whose mother worked there, used the machine with a wringer. That laundry was hot and so filled with steam that it was hard to see.

wringer washing machine

THEN the sadiron pictured below was still being used. I will add my mother's report of how those irons were used to the "Tidbits" page. The first electric irons did not have heat controls. You simply plugged the iron in, waited for it to get hot enough, then tried to judge when it was getting too hot and unplugged it before you scorched your clothes. You would have starched your cotton clothing and sprinkled it down before ironing. "Sprinkling down" meant to sprinkle water over the clothing until it was damp but not wet, then roll it up tightly and place it in a basket to wait for ironing.

sadiron

THEN afterschool snacks were simple. I remember saying, when I got home from school, "Mama, can I have some mayonnaise and bread." Daddy occasionally made chocolate fudge and Mama baked cakes and cookies. In a family of six hearty appetites, however, such goodies lasted no time. By the time school was out in the afternoon, I knew mayonnaise and bread was probably all I could expect before supper. We drank iced tea and Koolaid. Soda pop was only for picnics. Coke, Pepsi, and Dr. Pepper were available in eight-ounce bottles. My favorite "pop" was Chocolate Soldier. Grapette was sold in smaller bottles, probably six ounces.

slicedbread.gif

THEN my Grandpa Petty and many other people with rural backgrounds, had gardens in their back yards. Grandpa grew vegetables in his back yard, blackberries in his side yard, and flowers in his front yard. He did most of the work himself but hired a man with a team of mules to prepare the ground for planting every spring.

manplowing.gif

NOW every child knows something about large cities all over the world. New York, Paris, London, and other cities are often seen on television. Yes, Oklahoma City is still called "The City" in the Sooner state but I doubt that any child of today would fail to understand the word problem that gave my 5th grade classmate so much trouble..

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NOW children have a class called "physical education." It is assumed that they must be taught to use their bodies in ways that came naturally to earlier generations. Only Congressmen have recess and I don't want to imagine what kind of games they play.

discussion

NOW most homes have more than one telephone. They come in all colors. Some phones are still plugged into a wall outlet but others are cordless and can be carried all over the house and yard. NOW we have cell phones that can be carried everywhere. "Your purse is ringing" has already become a tired, old joke.

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NOW almost everyone does the laundry at home in a completely automatic machine, like the one pictured below. Commercial laundries are mostly self-service, with similar machines.

load washer

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NOW I have not touched an iron for years. Most people these days take their clothes out of the dryer and hang them up before they have time to get wrinkled. Some clothing is still made of materials that have to be ironed but, by careful shopping, you can simply make sure you buy the ones that don't need ironing. NOW electric irons have steam vents that eliminate the "sprinkling down" process. Recently, a product has been invented that you can spray on your clothing to dewrinkle it. A boon for travelers! NOW sadirons, such as the one pictured below left are often brightly painted and used as bookends.

iron.gif

NOW children expect to have storebought cakes, cookies, ice cream and candy available to eat when they get home from school. Sometimes they are allowed to order pizza or go out and buy tremendous ice cream cones. Soda is almost always available to them. It is usually brought home from the grocery store in two litre bottles. Grapette and Chocolate Soldier have not been available for years but a chocolate-flavored drink called YooHoo is very much like Chocolate Soldier.

cream8.gif

NOW, if we don't go out to a restaurant or order pizza, all of our food comes from the supermarket. Somebody must grow the food that we get from the grocery store or the restaurant but farming methods have changed drastically. It has been years since I drove through the country and saw a farmer plowing with a mule. Most of the drudgery is gone because farming is done by machine. Recently, I saw an air-conditioned tractor!

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My contemporaries may read these memories and say, "That's not the world I remember as a child," and wonder why my memories are different. I can answer that in a word - poverty. Much of my childhood was spent in my grandparents house, where they did not even have electricity. Technology has always been available first to people who are well off. Television, for instance, has been around for most of my life but I never saw a TV until about 1952. At that time, my father said, "That's a rich man's toy. The common people will never be able to afford it."