The Good Old Days

Ironing is one of those things you either love or hate, well I do and it is determined according to my mood. If I have a huge load I like to sit in front of the TV with a good film on. Isolated from everything, I can enjoy watching without interruption. Nobody comes near in case they are given an armful of clothes to put away… I’m not silly. Other times, like to day I had only a smallish amount so I did it in the kitchen. It is during those times that I love ironing most, just like the film I can let my mind wander and drift anywhere I like. I solve most of my problems whilst I am ironing unless like today, things of the past kept popping into my head. I dreamed the other night that someone said ‘you have to look back, look into the past’. It is all very strange until I thought about the phrase ‘The good old days’. I have heard so many times that the good old days were actually the bad old days, and in terms of scientific progression I guess that’s right. Medicine alone has made so many huge strides, electronics and computer technology had leapt way, way beyond anyone might have thought in the sixties let alone the fourties or fifties. Just thinking of household chores and the technology we have at our disposal today, it had to be worse back then.

In the sixties when I had my first child, I had no washing machine, I boiled nappies and whites in an old saucepan and hung them out to dry. Then I had a second hand single tub top loader with a wringer, trouble with that was you daren’t touch it while your hands were wet or you’d get a poke, but still no spin dryer but do you know, those nappies came in from the line so soft … without fabric conditioner! So what happened to soap powder that made the use of softener necessary? I remember buying one of the first ones to use with my Surf and Tide washing powders.  Hmmm smacks of the sea, maybe there’s a hint there somewhere? Anyway, I also didn’t have a vacuum cleaner for many years and would get down on hands and knees to both brush the floor and rugs and wash it. Linoleum only in those days, no vinyl and certainly not fitted carpets for young people starting out. Bedding was good old blankets and sheets, changed once a week top to tail. My one luxury was a burgundy, satin, feather quilt embroidered with gold that my grandmother had bought me as a wedding present, now that was nothing like the duvets of today it was to go on top of your bedding for warmth, to look nice it had valanced sides. When you got into bed with that on your bed you were pinned down by the weight but oh so toastie and needed badly in the winter, there was no central heating in those days. I had an open fire only on the tiny lounge so the bedroom was an ice box. Hehehe I remember, I lived on the first floor and coal was in a huge box outside the bathroom and toilet which we shared with the flat upstairs which meant the coalman delivered it up those stairs. unbelievable! Television was unheard of for our family. We never had one as children at all and I never had one until after my first son was born, a Rediffusion black and white one. Even over the years, because I had a large family things were tight and we managed with what we had, being in the country did have it’s advantages because we grew our own fruit and vegetables, kept chickens and had friend who had goats and different trees to us so we swapped produce. We made wine, I did all my own home baking, I remember a whole day a week, usually a Saturday was devoted to baking cakes, biscuits, pies, you name it. I made our own jams and pickles and we sourced many foods from the countryside around us.

Looking back and comparing I would say today is better and now are the good days but then I ask myself, are they? We worked harder back then for sure and were lacking in the home comforts and entertainment consoles or computers of today, we didn’t have magic laundry powder that gets clothes clean at 30 degrees, spray polish, duvets, fitted carpets, central heating etc. but what we  had that we don’t have today was unity in the family, communication, resourcefulness. I’m not saying people don’t have it today but it is all too easy to switch on a computer or games console and play, alone; flick a switch for heating; bundle washing several times a week into a machine with products that do it all for us, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners  and machines that make life easier, giving us time to run our children round in Mum’s car to one activity or another. Play groups, nurseries, activity centres for school holidays the list is endless but let’s look back at the time we spent in the good old days scrubbing and cleaning. The children helped with the chores, mine learned the value of money from earning pocket money getting in coal, hanging out washing, brushing floors but they also baked with me, we walked into woods to gather nuts or fruits to make things like rose hip syrup and wine or jams, we made sweets, gathered flowers for pressing and made pictures or book marks, gathered firewood, we built camps and Daddy made a tree house. The children knew plants and animals and how to identify what animal had been where from their poo, laughable but a fact, we made plaster of paris casts of hoof and foot prints on walks and gathered bits for art projects at home and had children’s parties with home made food and drink. We sang together, danced together, played together, went to church together, spoke to each other. Television wasn’t the be all and end all of entertainment, not till the children grew older anyway and times changed.

So would I go back to the good old days? yes and no. No because modern conveniences save so much time and life has widened so much because of the internet, education is better, entertainment is good etc. but I would bring back from the past the sense of unity and closeness in the family where we all pulled together to make things happen, I still like today to use natural products instead of all the chemicals –  who’s idea was it to make washing powder so full of chemicals that we NEED softener and conditioners to make them wearable. I would cherish the times we made our own entertainment instead of paying out and getting someone else to do it for us. Family values, it goes without saying were so much more a priority and things were talked about at home, we didn’t need counsellors or someone from school telling us  there was problem, we discussed it and sorted it in the family because we communicated with each other. Most of all, was the freedom the children had because television wasn’t so important and we weren’t made to be scared of letting them do things. So I reckon it isn’t the good old ‘days’ that we miss at all, they were really hard work but some of the values from back there is what we miss today, a disadvantage forced upon us by modern technology. Maybe next time I am ironing I will cast my dream head back and find a solution for combining the two so we can have the best of both worlds.


1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Suzi said,

    i’d not mind going back there….
    i wonder if we can get your magic soap stuff here… you’ll have to describe it to me and i’ll look. we can still get washing soap in bars. people still don’t use wasing machines here… the woman next door doesn’t. and there are stone communal washers in every town where some people still go to scrub their clothes. a bit of an alien concept to me.
    but theres no way i’m washing nappies by hand!!!

Comment RSS · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: