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The Dirty Work of Illumination

We take lighting for granted.

The sun goes down; we flip a switch. Instant illumination. Sure, sometimes the power goes off and we have to “rough it.” Candles or hurricane lamps for a few hours, a couple of days, sometimes longer if you live on the Gulf Coast and it’s hurricane season (there’s a reason they’re called hurricane lamps).

And while urban America was almost completely electrified (eek! that sounds painful) by 1929, it would be well into the mid-30s, and even the early 40s, before electric power found its way to the farms.

So poor Rose

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Washing Day

 

This morning I started a load of laundry, then came upstairs to work on this blog post. In a minute, I’ll go downstairs, move the load to the dryer, then enjoy thirty minutes of reading while I wait for the clothes to dry. Another fifteen minutes to fold and Voila! Laundry Complete.

Can I tell you… Rose is more than a little jealous of me. Not only does her wash day routine take longer than two hours, every bit of which is spent on her feet, there’s not a blasted book in sight anywhere.

No, if ever there was a chore designed to make a poor farm wife wish she’d never left her posh upper-middle class life, laundry is it!

And no wonder. Just look at all the steps involved, Continue reading

On Death

Pardon me while I get maudlin…

Yesterday, I read this in the 1930 diary I have: Had 16 little piglets today, but the old mother laid on 4 and killed them.

This made me sad. Especially if you’ve seen the cute piglet pictures I posted here. But it also got me thinking about how common death is, especially on a farm. And especially in the 1930s.

Well, it’s not a giant leap from cute piggies dying to human mortality… Continue reading

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A is for…

One of the tools in a writer’s arsenal to develop a fictional character is the Character A-Z exercise, where, beginning with the letter A and working your way through to Z, you write from the character’s POV (point of view) about whatever topic comes to mind for the letter at hand. Because, there comes a time when research has to stop and you just have to get into the character’s head to see what makes them tick.

Rose and I are embarking on just such a journey. Care to come along? Continue reading

http://www.chelmsfordgov.com/CHCwebsite/CFD_html/FireDepartment1920-1929.htm

Fire!

Feb 15, 1930

Nice day. Got colder in PM and eve and snowed some. Twenty below about 8AM but warmed up a lot during the day. Rex Ward’s house burned about 10AM and Mon and the boys went up there. They saved the things that were downstairs but lost what was upstairs and down cellar. The folks got back here about 11 and then we went up home for dinner and spent the PM. Snowed quite a little in the night.

from The Diaries of Lottie Price, 1914-1986

Until today, I had never considered that Rose might worry about fire. So I started looking for information on fire trucks and firefighting in the 1920s.

Let’s just say that Rose’s best hope is to not have a fire. (Well, that would be true of all of us, wouldn’t it? 🙂 )

I can see the scene…

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