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Old 11-23-2013, 09:48 AM
 
Location: East Germany in America
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gentlearts View Post
Or imagine life without drugstore reading glasses, let alone prescription glasses, and the seemingly small things we take for granted like disposable diapers and bathtubs with hot water.
I think most of us who are talking about a "simpler life" are not intending to go back to the cave man days. There are some real misconceptions about lifestyles and technology through the ages. Isn't this stuff studied in history anymore?

Somewhere along the line of this thread, the OP referred to the time of around the turn of the 20th century. Reading glasses far predate that time (like right around 1300 AD). And water was typically heated in a reservoir on the wood stove (my grandparents had one when I was a child that they still used--I remember it well). And, it didn't need electricity or piped-in gas to run.

The late "Victorian Era" was basically the dawn of our modern lifestyle. In my opinion, there was just enough technology to minimize the the most unpalatable of the daily chores, but not enough to become obnoxious. Electricity was not common for the average Joe, but it was there and being developed quickly. But I've found that oil lamps and Aladdin lamps actually provide light too. Amazing huh???

Telephones, in my opinion, are one of the most annoying inventions ever--but they were around in a primitive state... only far less annoying than the phones we use now. You turned a little crank and asked the nice lady to connect you to your gossiping friend. And unlike in our modern times, you didn't need to call the person walking next to you on the cell phone... you just turned your head and started talking--no tech needed.

Hey... and starting in the year of our lord 1895, they had Kellogg's Corn Flakes!!! Wowser!!! Check out that cute Sweetheart of the Corn there!!!



In many cases, those folks from around 1890 to 1910 had much of what we have as far as household sorts of conveniences (or at least it was being developed and invented), but it was often based on mechanics rather than electronics. What they didn't have, of course, were modern computers and high tech electronics--unless you want to consider that ultra-modern machine of the time--the Victrola--high tech.

But you know what? There were no common "personal computers" until I was in my twenties (like the Commodore 64--now that was high tech!), so I can imagine a world without computers for day to day living... I lived in that world. And... contrary to popular belief, life was just as peachy without the high tech as it is now with the high tech. In my opinion, it was better (he says as he types on his computer).

Again, there is a wide variety of "snapshots" of technology between the cave man and the smartphone-drunk generation.

Last edited by ChrisC; 11-23-2013 at 10:11 AM..
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Old 11-23-2013, 10:08 AM
 
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I love the stories in this thread so far! Thanks to everyone for sharing and debating in a pleasant way.

slingshot - do you still live in the cabin? Love the vintage pics, esp the kitty's view.

ChrisC - would love to see pics of your artwork!
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Old 11-23-2013, 11:33 AM
 
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I have worked on and off for historic sites in various parts of America for much of my working life, and have known many interpreters (you call them tour guides, probably) who live as close to period (whatever period is their specialty) as possible in their personal lives. Granted, these folks are in the minority - most interpreters go home to a normal modern life.

But for those who do:

Many live in homes with wood or coal stoves or fireplaces which are used for all of the heat and cooking, and many use outdoor privies. Not really a big deal. I really like cooking on a wood stove because you can really control where the heat is.

Many have gardens and can extensively. Most try to use heirloom vegetable varieties (source: Seedsavers and similar). Some hunt, many have chickens and/or pigs and/or goats at home. Making butter and cheese at home is also pretty easy. Many who care for the historic sites' animals professionally may not care for animals at home too.

I personally am lazy about gardening and loathe chickens - they are evil, dirty, smelly little beasts and I know better than to eat them. Ick - and I hate gathering eggs. Blech - I hate most fowl.

Lots of us prefer period clothing. If I could I'd wear my long skirts ALL the time, not just when I'm working. I don't even mind a corset worn the way normal women really wore them - not too tight, just enough to keep things up and in. I've settled on ca. 1905 - 1915 as the perfect comfortable period of clothing for women. Lace up boots are also comfortable and practical.

Seeing my fellow modern people wearing shorts or other clothing that lets their flub hang out in public just really grosses me out. I find it hard to believe that people really choose to dress this way now.

County codes do interfere with being able to live this way - in many places, privies are illegal, as is keeping most kinds of farm animals in areas not zoned for that. DNR regulations about fishing and hunting are good for managing modern animal populations, but do make it hard to live an authentic period life of hunting and fishing to supply need.

The only major issue I have with living completely "period" is that I'm addicted to showering daily with hot water. I once tried to live with bathing in a tub with water heated on the woodstove, but it is such a production no wonder most people didn't bathe that much. I just can't give up my hot showers now!

The honest truth is that I personally am too lazy to live a true "period" life now.
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Old 11-23-2013, 11:49 AM
 
Location: East Germany in America
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsRhythm View Post
ChrisC - would love to see pics of your artwork!
I have a few on the albums of my profile page, and I upload more from time to time. The really serious work I've done, unfortunately, I have generally sold before I had a chance to take photos. I'm in the process right now of doing some pen and ink sketches, pen and ink portraits, and watercolor portraits of "Gibson Girls" (styles circa 1895 to 1915). I'll upload some of them when I get a chance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 601halfdozen0theother View Post
Lots of us prefer period clothing. If I could I'd wear my long skirts ALL the time, not just when I'm working. I don't even mind a corset worn the way normal women really wore them - not too tight, just enough to keep things up and in. I've settled on ca. 1905 - 1915 as the perfect comfortable period of clothing for women. Lace up boots are also comfortable and practical.
An excellent time period! In my opinion, styles for both men and women were about as good as it gets aesthetically (and reasonably practical as well) from around 1895 to 1915.

Then came the flappers. I like their styles as well, but a totally and radically different look! And... after that, both male and female styles slowly slid downhill... to what we have (or haven't) now.
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Old 11-23-2013, 12:14 PM
 
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MrsRythm, I haven't lived in that cabin since 1981. But one more thing that I'd like to mention to those that think they wouldn't/couldn't live like that....It is what it is. You simply do what you have to do. It takes more than a couple of months to get used to it. It's not a camping trip, it's a lifestyle. If I wasn't so old now and my wife would do it, I would move back to Northern Idaho and do it again. It was the hardest and most rewarding time of my life.
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Old 11-23-2013, 12:38 PM
 
Location: Jamestown, NY
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teddy52 View Post
I grew up really poor and we were the only family( in our area ) w/o electricity on our farm until 1956.

We never had indoor plumbing or an insulated house to help us stay warm.

To this day, I have no interest whatsoever in primitive camping as I did that growing up.


Oh, we had electricity and running water, but we had a wood furnace which really only heated the living room and dining room as it had only 1 big vent between those two rooms. There was a combo wood/gas cook stove in the kitchen (I suspect it would pass any kind of safety code today), and then holes in the downstairs ceilings/upstairs floors covered with grates that allowed some warm air to drift into the bedrooms -- until the furnace went out about 4 am because the wood was done. We absolutely only used our bedrooms for sleeping, and sometimes we slept downstairs because the upstairs was too cold. I won't even go into all the other joys of wood heating.

Simple is setting the programmable thermostat so that my HE furnace keeps the house at appropriate temps for my life-style.
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Old 11-23-2013, 04:16 PM
 
Location: Cushing OK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gentlearts View Post
Not only those serious things, but if you have ever suffered from heartburn, can you imagine how horrible their quality of life would be without Tums? Or imagine life without drugstore reading glasses, let alone prescription glasses, and the seemingly small things we take for granted like disposable diapers and bathtubs with hot water. I sometimes think about all the women who raised children in little freezing cabins in the middle of nowhere, and I wish could miraculously provide them with a hot bubblebath.
There was a thread a while ago about how a woman from the middlle ages would react if she woke up today. Some thought she'd be awed and grateful, but the general conclusion was she'd be horrified. She would fiind the conviences strange and suspect. She would thing the society was possessed. She wouldn't be the happy camper he op thought.

Point is, all is relative. The women in the cabin would appreciate the treat, but it wouldn't make her see her normal life as terrible. People did take baths in hot water and bubbles, but they were special. Everyday people bathed once a week and shared the water. If the norm was cold then you don't think of it as unusual. If the cabin being in the middle of nowhere, then you probably think of it as a bonus. You don't miss what you don't have. I suspect the mother would think disposable diapers a great waste of resources.

The difference between someone today deciding to live in a cabin in the middle of nowhere and living in the middle of nowhere back when was back when it was just how it was. Read the beginning of the Little house in the Woods. Its about the children and their day. They do chores, and they play. Their toys come from the environment. They are used to life as it is. They don't know that someone later might call them deprived.

If you go live in the forest today, then you choose to, and yet you know you're not doing the normal thing. You know you chose to not enbrase many things. You know if you get fed up with it you can just go back to the burbs.

Todays forest dweller has things to miss, while yesterdays doesn't know its any different for some. Some day, if the futurist win out over the doomsdayers, our way of life will be looked at as quaint and old fashion too. But it doesn't feel like it to us.

All is in the end relative.
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Old 11-23-2013, 07:00 PM
 
Location: Temporarily, in Limerick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nightbird47 View Post
There was a thread a while ago about how a woman from the middlle ages would react if she woke up today. Some thought she'd be awed and grateful, but the general conclusion was she'd be horrified. She would fiind the conviences strange and suspect. She would thing the society was possessed. She wouldn't be the happy camper he op thought.
Interesting, NB. Some probably don't need to dip that far back for generational shock. Mostly likely as with the majority posting here, my grandparents were all born before the turn of the century. I heard stories of my dad's mum in IR & how she was virtually chased out of town with sticks for entering a Charleston dance contest, as a young girl with long orange hair & a ribbon, daring to flash her ankles & perhaps knees (the horror) to the crowd. She had a huge family to feed & the prize was £5, a fortune in those days. Racy behavior at the time, sure, but, when I look back on pics of her (she was long gone before I was born), she looks like someone out of the 1700s... stern expression; long, modest, loose fitting dress; white hair pulled back into the obligatory bun; never a stitch of makeup & lace-up, black shoes with a modest heel.

Hard to imagine grandma being the Rihanna/Miley of her day... although she had 12-13 kids who lived into adulthood & 5-6 more who died in childhood, so she & grandpa must have at least liked each other. Still, I imagine she'd be stunned at today's clothing styles, the way in which people speak to & about each other, TV programming. Then again, my eastern EU grandma liked Patti LaBelle, James Brown & Elvis & bought me my first bikini at age 14 (my mum ordered me into the house to take it off & grandma shook her finger at her & told her to leave me alone because all young girls wore bikinis), so, who knows, maybe she & others would be cool with, or at least adjust to inevitable changes.

Quote:
Todays forest dweller has things to miss, while yesterdays doesn't know its any different for some. Some day, if the futurist win out over the doomsdayers, our way of life will be looked at as quaint and old fashion too. But it doesn't feel like it to us.
A slightly different point, but it's a bit mind boggling to me that today, financially well off people pay $$$ for chipped (or as the upscale call it, distressed & shabby chic) metal cabinets bolted to an old metal rack on rollers in an industrial, functional way or now haunt thrift shops for used clothing/items (now called vintage finds), use quaint words like regifting or thrifted & will eat at home style, inexpensive pubs & call it slumming. I've overhead that kind of talk from time to time & slowly turned to glare at said folk like Bela Lugosi's best Dracula impression out of sheer insult & dismay. None of my business, why should I care, but I despise being labeled as having been raised shabbily or eating in my old 'hood would be slumming it, as if we were destitute, fearful non-beings.

We grew up that way out of necessity & poverty... except we could never afford to eat out anywhere. I can now afford to live well & could purchase the above cabinets for $250 if I wanted, but it's so ingrained in me to recycle & not waste, fix rather than discard, make rather than buy, that I'd rather take an empty jar, decorate/stencil it & use it as a holder for wooden spoons, than buy it at Pier 1 or Pottery Barn for $25. When clothing was too old/stained to wear, my mum made potholders out of layers of the material & saved the buttons, collars & cuffs for possible use on another garment. I was slightly embarrassed by that as a kid (grew out of embarrassment when I was 20 & living on my own) but today, that would be considered vintage style by some & they'd pay $50/set of 2.

It's admittedly my own issue, but I do have to resist offended looks at those who are gleefully trolling consignment shops & I've overheard are excited that they found a $3 knick knack to sell in their upscale shop in La Jolla for a steal at $100 for a slice of old world Americana. Or, maybe it just means I need an Ebay site to sell my homemade $50 potholders.

Frugality used to be a necessary way of life for many. Now it's a salable commodity to some. Again, why should I care... that's life in a commercial society, but I can't help feeling a bit miffed.
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Old 11-23-2013, 08:16 PM
 
Location: East Germany in America
14,005 posts, read 12,151,246 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nightbird47 View Post
There was a thread a while ago about how a woman from the middlle ages would react if she woke up today. Some thought she'd be awed and grateful, but the general conclusion was she'd be horrified. She would fiind the conviences strange and suspect. She would thing the society was possessed. She wouldn't be the happy camper he op thought.

Point is, all is relative. ...


... All is in the end relative.
This is spot on. It's all relative. It's a matter of perspective. In 100 years, I'm sure the people of the time will look back to the way we live and shake their heads as to how ridiculously hard our lives were. That will be their perspective. From my perspective, although there are things I don't like about our lifestyles, there is not one thing that I can look at and say, "Man, this is hard work!" There is nothing that we do, at least to me, that is overly taxing physically. In my opinion, it's all too easy. And the easier it is, the less rewarding it is when you hit the end result. But that's my perspective. Some of those 100-year-in-the-future-people will mistakenly think we lived like Neanderthals, just like some people here on this thread think the Victorians were part of the Neanderthal age with mind-boggling 20-hour days of excruciating toil and nary a respite to be found.
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Old 11-23-2013, 08:30 PM
 
Location: East Germany in America
14,005 posts, read 12,151,246 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatanjaliTwist View Post
Interesting, NB. Some probably don't need to dip that far back for generational shock. Mostly likely as with the majority posting here, my grandparents were all born before the turn of the century. I heard stories of my dad's mum in IR & how she was virtually chased out of town with sticks for entering a Charleston dance contest, as a young girl with long orange hair & a ribbon, daring to flash her ankles & perhaps knees (the horror) to the crowd. She had a huge family to feed & the prize was £5, a fortune in those days. Racy behavior at the time, sure, but, when I look back on pics of her (she was long gone before I was born), she looks like someone out of the 1700s... stern expression; long, modest, loose fitting dress; white hair pulled back into the obligatory bun; never a stitch of makeup & lace-up, black shoes with a modest heel.

Hard to imagine grandma being the Rihanna/Miley of her day... although she had 12-13 kids who lived into adulthood & 5-6 more who died in childhood, so she & grandpa must have at least liked each other. Still, I imagine she'd be stunned at today's clothing styles, the way in which people speak to & about each other, TV programming. Then again, my eastern EU grandma liked Patti LaBelle, James Brown & Elvis & bought me my first bikini at age 14 (my mum ordered me into the house to take it off & grandma shook her finger at her & told her to leave me alone because all young girls wore bikinis), so, who knows, maybe she & others would be cool with, or at least adjust to inevitable changes.
The late 1910's and 1920's Flapper Era was a huge break from tradition by the younger crowd--especially the young women. They took it upon themselves to do just about anything they wanted to do without regard to the traditions of the times. It was probably the biggest youth "rebellion" in our history and would certainly make the youth cultures we've lived through look like small potatoes when you consider where the young generation of the turn of the century had been compared to the 1920's. It was VERY dramatic and a scandal of the time.

I think it would be about like if the youth of today just decided to walk around naked--and even at that, I'd doubt the naked youth would garner the kind of attention and disdain the establishment had at the time in the 1920's for the flappers. I have quite a number of books about the 20's and the flapper generation--their ways, their attitudes, and their lifestyles. Very interesting reading. It really was a hugely dramatic shift in styles, culture, and the "place of" women in society. Although the flappers would definitely be considered tame (in styles) and very feminine compared with today's styles, I think any feminist who is conscious about their roots today should definitely give a nod of approval to the girls of that time. They were the cat's pajamas!
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