Could the Old Ways be the New Ways for Survival? – Part 2

This is part two of the recollections from one of my “DestinySurvival Dispatch” subscribers concerning how his grandparents survived. View Part 1 here.

The author identifies himself as a young old guy from the hills of central Pennsylvania, known by close friends as Alem Yodr. Consider whether the old ways might become the new ways for our survival as things decline or collapse.

– John


My “Grandpap” owned a small farm in the hills and it was a couple miles from the village. The farm is still in our family. The farm had one large field on top where it was easy farming. When they decided to move to town they kept the farm, but let neighbor farmers plant crops there for a “share” of the harvest. It would be corn or wheat or oats.

A second small field on the land would be in Buckwheat with the same deal/agreement. No one had hard cash. The fields were mostly stone with just enough soil to grow those crops. The fence rows were where the cherry trees and apple trees were as were some of the berries.

When they decided to come to town they built a small building with a low upstairs. One went through the wood shed, which was a room without a floor to the stairs, to get to the sleeping loft where the entire family slept. This was before insulation existed for them. Snow on ones face was a common event during cold winter nights, my father told us.

This building had a large room about 14′ x 16′ that was the kitchen and living area. The wood shed part added at the most 8 or 10 feet to the length of this “shanty,” as it was always referred to as. It still exists, and is still called “the shanty.” It’s now updated slightly and maintained as a family memories place.

The furniture was a wood kitchen table, which means not what you would think, but it was a work table where food was prepared and dishes washed. A three sided corner cupboard 5 feet tall stored food and dishes.

The same black kitchen stove with oven, where homemade bread was baked every week, went into the house they were building. That house was built with lumber salvaged from the farmhouse 2 miles away across the hill and through woods. They needed a wagon to bring lumber to the town building site, 3 miles at least by road.

My grandfather never owned a car or truck. A couple years he was able to get factory work about 25 miles away. As long as he could get a ride with someone working there, he was able to make some cash. In 1940, one dollar per hour was big money.

Additional lumber was from a shop/store that was on this lot in town where they were building the “home in town.” That house was rather nice and on a wall with a wet basement, I recall. The large kitchen had a seperate tiny galley pantry with some shelves and a wooden kitchen cabinet. The house had a large family room and a bit smaller “good room” for the good furniture that would accumulate or had come from the farm.

Upstairs was a large room over the kitchen of the same size, plus three other bedrooms and a long narrow hall. An attic access door led to steps to storage–not a walk-around size area.

Like most other homes in that small town, the house had two front doors–one to the”good room” and one to the family living room. That’s where a “room stove” burned coal in winter. the stove pipe went thru the bedroom above to give heat in winter, just as the kitchen stove pipe gave heat to the large bedroom above it.

They had feather “ticks” (mattresses). She created quilts from saved fabric. These were made in winter. neighbors would visit each other and help make quilts. It was shared work and a social event.

Slab wood from a sawmill near by was used for heating and cooking. In winter small amounts of coal was purchased for a little cash to help in real bad cold. The wood fired kitchen stove helped heat the house and to cook. In warm weather the cooking fire in the kitchen stove almost made it impossible to endure the meal.

As kids we liked Grandmom’s molasses cookies, and the day they were baked was the best time for them. Though she stored them in a large metal can with a dish towel arond them–a lard can so country folks could recognise the container–they got hard as “all get out.” That’s a local expression. A cup of spring water would bring them back to be consumed by we kids.

I never wrote of this time before, so it has some gaps and no style or fancy stuff, but is all true for I spent a lot of time there over the years.


Author: DestinySurvival Contributor

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