By Paige Cline
We tend to think that living without electricity and indoor plumbing was something out of ancient history. I never lived in a house without electric lights but there were places not far out of town that had not yet been provided that utility.
After I had become a young man I was asked by a taxi driver named “Keystone” (don’t ask me how he got that name) to ride with him up Gulf Fork to take something to his in-laws who lived up that hollow.
We arrived just before dark and Keystone felt obliged to visit for a while. Okay by me.
As it began to get dark, the lady of the house brought out two kerosene lamps and lit them. At first it seemed a little eerie but soon I kinda liked the warm glow given off by the lamps. The flickering shadows fascinated you much like watching wood burning in an open fireplace.
Then Keystone said, “Jim, play something.” The “Jim” that he referred to was a young man not quite as old as me. I knew him from seeing him shooting pool in The Dugout. He, and a friend who lived nearby, would make the trip to town several nights a week to enjoy their newly-found pastime. Sometimes they were fortunate to catch a ride but, most of the time they walked.
Jim was normally a shy person but he put that old guitar on his knee and belted out several of the gospel and country songs that his mother loved so well. Back then country music was country. All of it was more like the bluegrass of today.
After our visit, I returned to my home in the “city” to the relative luxury of hitting a switch on the wall to light up a room. And there was a refrigerator in the kitchen.
I have lived in a home that had a coal and wood-burning cookstove. That was still in the latter stages of a time when moms cooked three meals a day and often baked bread that many times. That meant the same stove that helped keep a house warm and comfortable in the winter also put out the same amount of heat to add to the already stifling heat and humidity of the summer.
Some folks were also still using stove irons to press their clothes. While the woman was using one iron to smooth out wrinkles, another would be heating on the stove.
I won’t pretend that I was one that was raised in completely primitive times. There are lots of folks still living who know a heckuva lot more about that stuff than I do. What I’m trying to say is that even in relatively modern times, some folks, by choice or necessity, were still using some of the things that their grandparents utilized to help with the sometime overwhelming household chores.
It should cause us to have a little more respect for our ancestors. And be a little more thankful that we don’t have to do it the same way.
To be honest, I don’t know if this generation cold handle it. Or maybe they could.