Looking Back

Things were slower ‘back in the day’

When they say that life was slower “back in the day” they are probably right!

It was slower because it took longer to do everything. I was thinking of that the other day when I warmed up lunch in the microwave.

Back in the ’50s my mother would put a casserole dish containing leftovers from the day before in the oven of our stove. It would be heated at a low temperature for about 20 minutes. Now that same casserole dish goes into the microwave for 1-2 minutes depending on its contents.

That means you are done eating today before it was even taken out of the oven in yesteryear!

We used to make popcorn in a kettle on a stove griddle. The kettle was moved back and forth to keep it from burning. Today you can buy popcorn bags to pop in the microwave. But I prefer to buy bags of Jolly Time white kernels. They are 100% whole grain white popcorn and I air-pop it in a microwave container made for that purpose. Set the timer and you have a healthy snack with no additives in about 3 minutes!

Now that lawn mowing season is fast approaching I think back to the days of a manual push mower that we had in the ’50s. I was about age 12 when I tried it for the first time. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to mow the lawn. My enthusiasm didn’t last long. It was a lot of work! In today’s world gas or battery operated lawn mowers are used by most of us instead of the manual type. If you really want to mow the lawn quickly a sit-down mower will win the prize for speed. Professional lawn mowing companies use them to whip around lawns in no time flat. Then they move on to their next job. Time is money!

I told my husband, Peter, that I have been checking out the new version of manual push mowers. I enjoy mowing because a freshly cut lawn produces instant gratification. I wouldn’t need to put in gasoline which our present mower requires. I would just need “muscle!” So, why not switch? Retired people have all kinds of spare time, right? No encouragement from Peter on that idea… But I am still reading consumer reviews and may decide to take a step back in time!

When it comes to keeping your property neat, mowing isn’t enough. You need to trim the edges of the grass, and hand-held clippers used in the 50s have been traded in by many for battery or electric weed trimmers. Dress accordingly when you use those as stones can travel and with bare legs you will soon see blood trickling down. I know that from experience! I am an old-fashioned girl at heart so I don’t mind using hand-held clippers but it’s a slow process and will take you back to yesteryear.

Years ago when autumn rolled around a rake was always your best friend for getting rid of leaves. It was a quiet and peaceful way to do that task. Granted it took a long time but being in the fresh air is always a good thing. In today’s world leaf blowers push the leaves into a pile for you with no effort at all. You will need ear plugs while using them if you want to keep your hearing intact. At our house a rake still rules! 

A handy device that didn’t exist in yesteryear was the dustbuster. Back then if something got spilled you got out a small hand-held brush-broom. It had a hook on the top so it could be hung up on a nail. The debris was swept into a dustpan and dumped in the basket. Now we can “suck up” the debris in a matter of seconds and when it’s full the filter gets emptied into the basket.

My husband, Peter, has always liked woodworking and says that sawing is so much faster these days. My father used a handsaw for projects around the house. That was a slow process compared to today’s options. My husband has a “collection” of saws in the cellar and each one has a purpose. If I need to cut a small tree branch I get out our hand saw and push it back and forth several times before I get to the final cut. For the larger branches a reciprocating saw gets the job done in a matter of seconds. An electric table saw in the cellar makes short work of anything that needs to be cut inside.

When I asked my husband about changes he has seen in tools over the years, he told me that battery operated drills and nail guns are two items that have made things faster and easier for the various wood projects he has taken on.

During the winter months we have snow to clear and some storms produce depths that are difficult to shovel. Back in the da” if there was too much snow to deal with we had the driveway plowed. Nowadays snow-blowers can take care of that chore in record time. On our street dedicated homeowners even use one to clear sections of the city sidewalks. A special thanks to our neighbor, Walt, who uses his snowblower to keep the area clear around the fire hydrant.

Fifty years from now today’s young people will look back and examine the changes that have made their tasks quicker and easier. I wonder what they will be. It’s hard to image!

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