5 Things Worth Doing The Old Way
There are so many things to be learned from researching the past. Of course, there are the loftier academic aspirations: the origins of humanity, the uprising and falling of civilizations, and so forth. But then, there are the more mundane and less glorious trends of everyday life. Taking from the latter, here are five things that are worth doing the old way:
5. Growing Our Own Food. We went to Fort Snelling a couple of weeks ago now, and they of course, had displays of old war adage. The walls were adorned with signs that read “Grow your own Victory Garden!” and “Our Food is Fighting!” But what I found more exciting than this was the evidence in areas of the Fort that showed they were doing more than just blindly campaigning, hoping that the Americans would do their part. They were growing food at the Fort to help support the soldiers. In today’s world, with outbreaks of Salmonella tainted tomatoes, and the government encouraging corn being grown to feed cars rather than people, we should take the adage personally. There is no greater feeling than biting into a ripe juicy tomato picked right off the vine, with no risk of being poisoned or having the food rot the day after you get it home. Plus all that time outdoors will result in something else, that many of us crammed in our stuffy little offices all day miss: a healthy dose of vitamin D.
4. Preserving Your Own Food. To take it a step further, why not can, dry and freeze what we grow and buy in bulk? Talk about penny pinching, or your grandmother’s favorite saying “waste not, want not”. There are numerous guides on the market, complete with color photographs and illustrations demonstrating method to make it easy and safe to preserve almost any food imaginable. One time, I bought a huge bag of frozen green beans, only to find that mixed in with those beans were tiny pieces of celery! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Imagine that happening with canned goods, and dried items too. How could you ever know? The only way to be sure what you are eating is what you think it is, is to make it yourself. There is a great story which pays homage to life during the 1940s, in sleepy Elk River, Minnesota a principal of the local high school planted a community garden on the school grounds, he then opened the cafeteria and kitchen once a week and invited the wives of farmers (many of whom had husbands off at war), or those who had prepared their own Victory Gardens to come to the school and can their vegetables for winter. He personally helped them all use the equipment and prepare the food. That would have been a great place to live, which brings us to a next point…
3. Mending/Making Our Own Clothing. Even with the rise of the “green” movement I’m astounded at how it’s rarely brought up how disposable clothing has become. Sure, it’s everywhere, it’s cheap, it falls apart like crazy and one foul misstep with the dryer and we’re off to the store for a new top. One by one, all of the department stores are doing away with their craft department, making it more difficult and expensive to find fabric and patterns.
2. Know Thy Neighbor. Historically, you knew the peole who lived by you, you knew what was happening in their lives and they knew what was happening in yours. This is partially why church records are so important to genealogists. People really did life together. They lived near one another, went to the same church, the same market, their kids married one another. Not so anymore. One of the positives of the up-rise of social media in the past decade is its ability to instill a sense of community where before it was dying. It creates, at the very least, a sensation that there are people around you who are really participating in the day-to-day ongoings of our lives. On the other hand, social media has, by implicating this facade of social interaction, in a sense eradicated our desire to build real relationships outside of its imaginary web. Why call and invite someone to an event when you can send a bulk text or set up a facebook event? Have a friend who complains too much, just “block” their status updates. In real life things are more complicated, more messy. But that’s part of why its so important!
1. Handwriting Letters/Thank You Cards. Remember what your mother told you about manners? It was all true! Who doesn’t love getting a little envelope in the mail, even if on the inside it just says “Thanks!” I hope snail-mail never becomes outdated. Let’s do our best to make sure it doesn’t!!