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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Worrywart Confesses All

woman-918623_1920Chalk it up to old-fashioned anxiety. Fear of the unknown. Or learning from the World’s Greatest Worrier—my mother. Whatever tag you slap on it, I morphed into a worrywart years ago.

Worried About Worry

Worry is plain-ol’ sin. I know.

It’s lack of trust in our trustworthy God.

storm-730653_1280Fear elbowing out faith. 

Doubt doubling down.

And pride pushing aside praise. 

Do the Saved Worry?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m saved by the blood of Jesus. Bound for the Promised Land. A daughter of the King of Heaven. And I’m one of those victors at the back of the Book.

But may I get dreadfully honest? I’ve wrestled for years with a wily enemy. He scoped me out when I was girl, spied on me at playtime. At school. On the bus. And at slumber parties. 

Not that he was particularly astute, mind you. I was easy to read.

The Worry-lessness of Childhood

Linda Jane Brooks_circa 1951I shrugged off others’ stories of misery. Bad things happened to other people. Not a Brooks. God wouldn’t let it.

Now let’s go play.

Worrywart-hood didn’t happen when my brother drove his small car under a parked 18-wheeler and clung to life, comatose, for a month. My thirteen-year-old assumptions were called into question, I admit. Butch was accident prone. That was all.

1969_12-20_smith_wilsonlee_raymondvillecemeteryIt didn’t happen the day my firstborn, a son, came into the world. And died.


Nor a year later when my daughter was born and I checked her breathing–her chest rising and falling–at midnight … three a.m. … and again at four.

Lane_1975Or when my second son was born, and the doctor walked into the room with news: “Your baby will have to remain in the hospital.” 

No, I had learned how to worry long before.

Learning to Worry

Early one morning when I was fourteen, I awoke with my mother sitting on my bed, crying. 

wilson-freeman-brooks_circa-1955“What is it?”

“It’s Daddy.”

“What about him?”

“He’s sick.”

I tried in the silence to imagine Daddy abed with a thermometer in his mouth, but the image wouldn’t stay put. Daddy wasn’t sick … ever. But then again, he could be….  Couldn’t he?

Daddy wasn’t Jesus Himself. Granted. But he was mighty close. So … OK. Daddy’s sick. 

But why in the world would that steal a moment of Mother’s sleep? 

“What’s wrong with him?”

“Muscular dystrophy. Doc says he has two years.”

The Effects of Worry

kaleidoscope_mandala-1248169_1280You know how a kaleidoscope takes the same array of colored shapes and rearranges them into different designs? That’s what happened to my world. The pieces shifted.

But the colors faded to gray.

They gathered into a great boulder that followed me around, waiting to drop atop the house Daddy built. 

worried-girl-413690_960_720All these years later (and that’s a lot of years, folks), I still remember: The colors faded and fear set in. Suddenly it didn’t pay to be a Brooks.

As it turned out, muscular dystrophy wasn’t the culprit. Nor was ALS. Or muscular sclerosis. Physicians couldn’t put a label on it. But I could. 

It was a ten-year knot in my stomach. A twinge when the phone rang. A bible-1245795_1280pang when I hugged Daddy, bony and frail. It was a stab in my heart at the sight of my hero, wheelchair bound, bent over at the table to reach his plate.

And it was battling to defend one thin line of hope. Daddy taught a Bible class from his electric wheelchair, his body and head braced straight. Somehow he would keep breathing. I just knew he would. (Tweet That)

Until he couldn’t.

And didn’t.

Satan’s Foothold

You see, Satan got a foothold that day in my girlhood when Mother sobbed at woman-tearmy bedside. I’ve been shoving him out ever since. Just when I think I’ve kicked in his boot toe for good, he smashes the door wide open. And here we go again.

Thankfully I don’t have to call out my own sullied name. At the name of Jesus even the demons tremble. My only defense is the Holy Spirit. At the sight of Him, the devil flees. No weapon or armor can stand against the Lord God Almighty.

But–oh–how my flesh craves the delusion of strength, the power of my will. How foolish.

Jesus’ Three-Part Solution

There’s one way and one way alone to abide in peace, and that’s to abide in Jesus. In Him I am fed. In Him I am fulfilled. And in Him I am satisfied. 

Man shall not live on bread alone. Luke 4:4

Worship the Lord your God and serve him only. Luke 4:8

Do not put the Lord your God to the test. Luke 4:12

fotolia_1190698_XS_traveltips.usatoday.comDoes this sound familiar, anyone? As we look forward to the bounty of Thanksgiving Day, let’s pray for one another.

Dear Lord, you promised your children peace–not as the world gives, but as only you can provide. Peace is among the fruits of the Spirit. So why do your children war? Why do we battle and struggle and fear? On Thanksgiving Day and everyday, help us make room for the Spirit of Peace–in our minds and hearts and homes. Make us childlike in our trust of You. Hollow us out so we can receive more of you, the Prince of Peace. ~ For Jesus’ sake

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27


2 thoughts on “Worrywart Confesses All

  1. Thanks, Linda, for sharing with transparency from your heart. I, too, have struggled with worry. When I finally realized the Lord was not at the root of it, I began to pray through it. And it works!

    1. That’s a unique perspective–reminding yourself the Lord isn’t at the root of worry. We won’t find him in worry. Love it. Thank you, Clarice.


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