Monday, 29 April 2013

A-Z 2013 'Y' is for Yesteryears!

(Post-WW1 street party, Carlisle, 1919;
my Mum, Grandmother and Great Grandmother feature here!)

Nearly at the end of this year's 'A-Z' blog-meme, my brief look at Genealogy has reminded me of the differences and similarities between the lifestyles of the previous generations and the present day.

Looking back, their lives were generally harder - struggling to keep land and livestock, coping with almost constant child-bearing and dealing with mortality (both infant and adult) from diseases and illnesses that would today be quickly remedied.

Also there were great separations when families emigrated, rarely to be seen or heard of again, often the only communication would likely be to inform those 'back home' of someone's demise. Nowadays, we have instant global contact by telephone and internet.

Yet, for all their material deficiencies, I've realised that (mostly) my families had a greater sense of community. Then, they would often live within a street or two of each other; older relatives would play their part in raising the younger ones, imparting wisdom as they passed on their cultural heritage and trade-skills. Nowadays, families are often geographically miles apart; older relatives pursue their own careers for longer and are often more financially secure and able to indulge in pursuits for their own ends.

Our forbears may not have had the convenience of supermarkets and 'wall-to-wall' entertainment, but they also did not have the level of depressive illnesses caused by stress that our hectic lives can induce at times. When they fell wearily into their beds they generally were so physically exhausted that they would not likely lie awake fretting about life's worries!

Our modern day labour-saving gadgets would seem miraculous; we take for granted a machine that can wash clothes with the flick of a button or dial, whereas even our grandmothers would perhaps have spent hours boiling up water and scrubbing collars. (however, although assisted by electricity ironing still takes time!)

(as a child, even I remember using a washboard like this and a 'dolly' in the washtub 
-  how many times I nipped my fingers in the mangle, too!)

Vacuum cleaners and a less dusty environment mean keeping our houses clean is not the herculean task Great-Granny might have faced.

Cooking on clean and efficient stoves at the click of a button would seem magical to someone who would have had to find kindling and coal and wait for the oven to heat up - and also require the skill to know when it was hot enough to cook thoroughly but not burn the food.

So, looking forwards, I wonder what the generations yet to come will make of our lives today?


  1. Hi Sue .. great Y post - we so often forget the differences in the generations; I try to remind us in my posts when it's applicable. I remember the mangle .. and the back bath room used as the washing area - I expect it was the bathroom at one stage. I think we had a basic washing machine by the time I arrived ...

    Communities did help each other didn't they - I probably missed out on that side of life ..

    Cheers Hilary

  2. Ghostly! Just stopping by for the A-Z Challenge. Please check us out and sign up to follow if you like what you see. Juliet atCity Muse Country Muse

  3. I am fully grateful for modern appliances! All it takes is a power outage that may last for days to take one back to the cave.

  4. Nice post. I think about the changes and similarities while researching too.