My mom was born in early 1928 and was the first baby in her parents’ new farmhouse. This home was a marked improvement over the earlier structure. Most notably you couldn’t see outside through gaps in the walls and floors. Over time, upgrades would include running water, central heat, and indoor plumbing, but the real game-changer was electricity.
As I mentioned in a previous post, there were 8 children in the family and two of the older sons had moved back home with their new wives. It was the responsibility of one of the wives to keep coal oil in all the lamps and the wicks trimmed. This ritual was repeated for the first 14 years of Mom’s life. She recently told me, “We had coal oil lamps when I went to school in the morning and electric lights when I got home!” Their home, like those of many other rural families, had been the beneficiary of the services of the Rural Electrification Administration.
What we see today as a necessity and an expectation looked like this when it first came into homes. Anyone interested in returning to the “good old days”?