1914: The Way We Were

1914 and Today

1914: The year my current work-in-progress–a sequel to The Calling of Ella McFarland–is set. (Tweet That!)

As an author of historical fiction, it goes without saying I enjoy most anything history-ish. In my research I’ve uncovered a bevy of facts, timelines, photographs, anecdotes, and personal commentaries about life in the second decade of the twentieth century

My Photo Album

These fascinating tidbits are gradually creating a snapshot collage fit for You Are There, a 1950s television series hosted by Walter Cronkite

“New” sometimes amounts to little more than an update of the “old.” But at other times, the new-fangled can’t hold a candle to old-timer ways. 

The Great Divide

Bar none, two of the best stories I’ve read to illustrate the great divide between 1914 and today are these: The first comes from the October edition of The Rotarian; the second from the October 31st edition of Telephony: The American Telephone Journal.

“God created the first talking machine; Alexander Graham Bell the second. Bell lengthened woman’s tongue and raised her voice until mere man struggles in vain to escape her.”

“After two trials in the county court S.J. Fuller, a prominent Fort Worth lumberman, has been convicted under the state law which prohibits the use of profane or abusive language over the telephone and fined $5. (Tweet That!) It was charged the lumberman ‘cussed out’ the chief operator of the Rosedale exchange of the Southwestern Telegraph and Telephone Co. in Fort Worth when he was unable to get the connections wanted.” 

Political correctness didn’t exist in 1914.

1914 Families

The children of 1914 played with teddy bears, dolls, and cars. They stacked blocks, enjoyed tea parties, and went on imaginary safaris. 

My 21st-century grandchildren have done the same. But Barbie has little in common with the china-faced, stuffing-bodied doll of a century ago. 

How I would love to be a time traveler on a 1914 bus. I’d soak up my surroundings. Hairdos. Clothing. Dental work. And shoes.

For traveling comfort, hurrah for today!
Care to take off for New York in a 1914 bi-plane?

I’d watch and listen for how people thought. In their dress. Their manners. Their facial expressions. And their conversations.

Who were the 1914 Chatty Cathys? And the hometown comedians? Were their conversations peppered with profanity or crude remarks? 

Ordinary Life: 1914 Style

Want to trade your smart phone camera for the 1914 version?

Fashion. Women’s high-necked, low-hemmed 1914 fashion reflected the early-twentieth century values of modesty and virtue. What does the all-but-naked fashion celebrated on red carpets say about modesty and virtue in 2017? (I would post an example, but, frankly, they’re shameful.) My grandmother’s dress reflected her view on virtue. Does mine?

Church attendance. 1914 folks knew where to find one another on Sunday morning. A community might boast paved streets, but churches would abound. Restaurants were few and far between, but Sunday dinner in friends’ homes was common. Today Sundays often consist of hunting, golfing, boating, football, TV, brunch–you name it–anything but church. My grandmother’s friends knew where to find her on Sunday mornings. Do mine?

Bedtime prayers. 1914 parents read to their children at bedtime and capped off the day with prayers.

I suspect more often than not children in 2017 go to sleep to something on an iPod, iPad, or tablet. What do your children and grandchildren expect at bedtime?

For family-friendly games, I’ll take 1914.

Entertainment. Parlor and lawn games were common in 1914. So were reading and singing around the piano. Teens interacted at church socials and taffy pulls.

1914 Life, 2017 Style

Today most children and teens go for YouTube, video games, blow-’em-up movies, or nothing more than to be left alone behind closed doors. When given the choice, do your children or grandchildren choose a board or video game? Or something else?

I’m intrigued by the lives former generations lived. I often wonder how I would have handled losing children to measles or polio. Would I serve my family bread everyday if I had to make it from scratch? Complain about the heat if I had never experienced air conditioning or the cold if I had to stoke a fire? Make it to church on Sunday if I had to hook up a team to a wagon and endure the hard wooden seat as we bounced over ruts? 

Would I have joined other women in a suffragette picket line?

Would I have worn a corset–or simply rebelled?

There’s a reason why the hobble skirts of 1914 were a passing fad. Eeeegads!

What sort of hat would I have chosen–an unadorned one that hugged my head or something outrageous with feathers and flowers and a stuffed bird or two? 

So … Would I choose 19142017, or something in between? Honestly, when boiled down to their essences, love, family, friendship, and an-honest-dollar-for-an-honest-day’s-work have held their own. So has faith and its outworking in some quarters. Personally, I prefer taking what was good about life in 1914–like faith and love and devotion–and spit polishing it for 2017.

And–absolutely, positively, bet-your-bottom-dollar surely–I’d keep cursing on the telephone against the law!

How about you?

P.S. Which would you choose? Pickup Sticks or Rubik’s Cube?

 

 

 

 

 

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born
for a time of adversity.
Proverbs 17:17

2 thoughts on “1914: The Way We Were

  1. Marilyn R

    Linda, thank you are sharing this fantastic post. Yes, I would prefer some things as they use to be. Families praying together, attending church, sitting down around the table for meals, modest clothing and visiting with one another on the front porch or playing together versus what is happening in family units today.

     
     
    1. I agree, Marilyn. Our world would be in a far different place if only … I long for Heaven more each day. Thank you for joining me in these thoughts and adding your touches. You’ve blessed me.

       
       

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Mother Love: Never Old

Mother Love

Mother love is never old. Yesterday was my mother’s 98th birthday. She wasn’t present in bodily form; she passed into Glory 22 years ago.

Mother’s spirit hovered around me all day.

Goldie Leona Banks Brooks was no shrinking violet. Or pansy. She was more like the lantana and verbena that bloom in Texas most of the year. I doubt she’d delight in this comparison, but hear me out.

First, these hardy plants thrive in heat and drought and aren’t fussy about the soil. They add bold color to the garden and require zero tending. They’re dependable and determined, and they find a place to bloom, invited or not. They don’t give off fancy fragrances, but they don’t apologize either.

Mother’s favorite flower was the rose (with the orchid coming in a close second). I think she admired their delicacy, and I know she loved the scent of the rose. It’s a good thing she was neither a rose nor an orchid, fragile and fussy about her surroundings. She wouldn’t have managed as a Great Depression farm wife otherwise. Nor would she have survived twenty-five trying years of widowhood, holding onto the home and farm land she and Daddy worked so hard to acquire.

Girl Thoughts

January 17th appears on the calendar each year, and I return to memories of growing up as Goldie’s girl. She had always wanted a daughter, but by 1941 she had given birth to three boys and buried one. So when in 1946 her doctor confirmed she was expecting another child, all she could think were girl thoughts.

Thereafter, she made a pest of herself among church friends, asking them to pray for Goldie to have a girl. (Truthfully, they learned to run the other way when they saw her coming. 🙂 She threaded her days with incessant prayers of her own. Please give me a girl. Please give me a girl. 

But in time she convinced herself it was better to build a wall of defense around her heart than to leave it exposed to disappointment. She entered the clinic to deliver her fourth child on the 5th day of September, telling herself she and Wilson were destined for a household of boys. (Would she have traded either of her precious boys for a girl? Never!) (Tweet That!)

Girl Time

So when the doctor announced, “It’s a girl,” she heard “It’s a boy.” She held tears in check until Daddy entered her room with a huge grin.

“What’re you crying about, Goldie?”

“Another boy.” Sniff, sniff.

“No. It’s a girl.”

“Stop teasing me.” Blub. Blub.

“Goldie, we have a girl.”

She shook her head and turned away.

The doctor entered the room. “You did it, Goldie. You got your girl.”

Wiping her face with the hem of a sheet, Mother sat up … 

And the rest is … Well, it’s proverbial history packed with mother love and gratitude. And a lesson learned: Pray and expect a miracle.

Later, the preacher wrote to friends who had moved away: Praise the Lord! Wilson and Goldie have a girl! Little did anyone know at the time, but eleven years later, Goldie was to have another baby–a boy again, but–oh–how great was the rejoicing.

Indeed, Mother was like our Texas lantana and verbena. Strong. Stubborn. Self-sufficient. At times, overly so. She asked no one to wait on her or tend her. But on this, the day after her 98th birthday, how I wish I could.

Lord, how weak is our faith. We often pray, doubting.
Help us to pray, trusting. For Jesus’ sake.

~

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 
Philippians 4:6 
NIV

4 thoughts on “Mother Love: Never Old

  1. I truly enjoyed this, Linda! Your mom was beautiful. A kindred spirit, for sure. I live on a sand ridge in south Georgia. The only thing that thrives here is lantana. I have one rose bush. I love burying my nose in the petals. But, the lantana is the year-round visual beauty I am blessed with. I wouldn’t trade it for a thousand roses!
    Have you written a book with your mom as the main character? I would love to read that story!!

     
     
    1. Thank you for commenting, Gail! Very encouraging 🙂 There’s a lot of Mother in Ella McFarland. Mother was “sillier” at times than Ella Mc … and Mother laughed. A lot. But they are very much alike. I used the Myers-Briggs Personality Assessment and decided they are twin sisters. 🙂 My maternal grandmother Ella is in Betsy McFarland. And Lily’s story has roots in my mother’s family. Love connecting with you.

       
       
  2. You must get your spunk and sweetness from your mother! I love your mini-memoirs, which bring us back in time. You have a gift.

     
     
    1. Thank you, Clarice. Mother got into some hilarious situations. We laughed a lot. Thanks for commenting.

       
       

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