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Monday, August 24, 2015


I admit, I love historical novels. Just the other day, a friend on Facebook commented that she would love to live in a simpler time. Maybe in the mountains during the seventeen or eighteen hundreds. Really? I wanted to ask her if she had ever tried doing a week of laundry outside using a cauldron over an open fire and hanging everything on branches and fence lines. That would be during nice weather. Winter would be a nightmare.

I'm working on a historical set in Colorado Territory in the the late 1800's. Everything has to be thought out. No telephones, no electricity and no decent medical care.  You woke up at dawn and went to bed shortly after nightfall. In a mountain valley, that's can be pretty early.

PBS has done some terrific challenges for families wanting to try living in another era. A few thrived and a lot would have been dead in six months from starvation. One family lived on a cattle ranch with hired hands. A historian had come in and set up a working ranch of the 1850's complete with a vegetable garden. The family and young ranch hands refused to eat squash, peas or okra because they had never tried it before. When concern was raised that there was no food, the historian told them there was plenty and she was thoroughly disgusted with them for not even making the effort.

Even later studies had their problems. The BBC had a modern family living in WWII London. That didn't seem such a stretch until faced with rationing  and food shortages. Mom had a melt down when they had to entertain guests with a cake without icing.

So, while I love reading about the past, I wouldn't necessarily like living back then. Authors don't tend to mention outhouses, lack of hygiene, spoiled food, terrible health care and the hard work involved in just maintaining a clean home.Not romantic, you see.                                                                                                   
This morning, I watched a short news report about a family owned Dairy Queen in a small town in Minnesota that still made old time favorites discontinued by corporate DQ. The frozen chocolate dipped banana and butter scotch sundaes, for example. I hadn't thought of those in years. Now, that's my idea of "the good old days." I'll keep my air conditioning and modern appliances. Camping is as close to simpler times as I ever want to get.


  1. Loved your post! I'm with you all the way. Love reading about the past but I also love the modern conveniences! I would not have made a good pioneer!

  2. GREAT post! We tend to romanticize the "good" old days but forget the reality of day-to-day life in the past. I'm with you -- I wouldn't want to give up the luxury of a washing machine, grocery store full of food, cook stove that doesn't require chopped wood, good health (and dental) care, and all the other things we take for granted. I agree with your idea of simpler times, especially if it involves a butterscotch sundae from DQ!

  3. I agree, Brenda. My idea of camping is the Hampton Inn. I love writing and reading about the past, but I love my a/c and appliances, car, shopping center, etc. Great post.

  4. I'm with you, Caroline...especially regarding the hygienic conditions of the "old days." Just recently, due to budget constraints and not being able to keep up with the work ourselves, hubby and I sold our home and downsized to an apt. Whoa! Talk about going back to the not-so-good "old days" of noise and lack of privacy and laundromats! No, it's not romantic in the least. But I can read about it...definitely! :-) Thanks for your post.


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