Going Vintage: Our Lives are More Convenient and More Complicated


Talking to my Grandma always makes me feel grateful.  Not only is she one of the coolest people I know — even at 78 — but she gives me a great perspective on real life. 

Today I was folding laundry while we spoke (as usual), and she asked me how many loads I have to do.  Every other Friday is Linens Friday in my house, so I have four extra loads to do today (Current count:  Two washed, dried and folded, one drying, one in the washer, two on the floor).   She was impressed that I could get so much done in one day.

Even in the late ’50s, when my mom was born it was impossible to do six loads of laundry in one day.  Washers didn’t have the same capacity. Almost all the clothing had to be ironed.  And if you were like my grandma, and I’m pretty sure I would have been, you ironed your sheets before you put them on the beds.

And then she said this, “And when I was a kid, my mother never had six loads of laundry to do.  You were lucky if you had two weekday outfits and one Sunday dress.” 

Can you imagine wearing the same thing three or four times each week?  And taking a bath once a week? 

Guys, my grandma isn’t ancient.  This is how much our world had changed in less than seventy years.   She didn’t have running water in her house until she moved to Inglewood, California (did anyone else just hear Snopp in their head?  La-da-da-da-dahh) in the mid-40s. 

But she had another great point:  They didn’t (often) have cars.  They stayed in their yards, on their streets, they didn’t play soccer and have dance practice.  Everything they did was within walking distance and everyone they knew had the same number of outfits. 

We’ve complicated our lives with stuff and with hygiene (remember how I mentioned I was grateful?).  Most of us can run (or ride) to the grocery store every single day if I we want to.  Their lives were small, measured in city blocks and letters in the mail.  Our lives are huge, filled with people in other states and sometimes countries and we stay connected by phone, and email, and twitter. 

Yes, our lives are more convenient.  We have technological advances that were beyond their imaginations.  But we’re also expected to do more with what we have. 

So in a round about way, this brings me to the picture I posted above.  GOING VINTAGE is a new book by YA contemporary author Lindsey Leavitt that will be out March 26.  And this whole conversation with my grandma has made me wonder how in the world the main character will be able to swear off technology and live like it’s 1962.

I guess I’ll just have to read it and see. 

Which reminds me, which modern convenience could you not live with out? 

I, obviously, couldn’t live with out my washer and dryer, and would shrivel up and die without my cell phone.  How could I talk to my grandma while I folded laundry without it? 



8 Comments

  • Redleg

    I got one for you: how about a coffee maker? You ever try to percolate that shit like in the olden days? That’s not even to mention grinders and what have you, that’s just to make regular pre-ground coffee in the morning.

  • Kristan Hoffman

    You know, I was initially going to say the easy answer — internet — but the more I think about it, the more I think it would be kind of nice to be pre-internet again, honestly. I mean, I’m JUST old enough to remember the days before internet was really a thing, and it was… nice. Less convenient, maybe, but certainly not a hardship to have to use phone books and libraries instead of Google, to send letters instead of email.

    So hm. What could I not live without? I think I’ll go with indoor plumbing. That would be very, very difficult to not have.

    PS: Your grandma sounds cute. 🙂

  • Becky Wallace

    @Redleg: I don’t drink coffee, but I can imagine it’s a bit like getting a drink at the old-fashioned soda fountain. Too much work!

    @Kristan: Can you imagine hiking to the outhouse in the middle of the night? An unlight outhouse crawling with…crawly things? *shivers* It’s like camping FOREVER. (aka a big fat nightmare).

  • Jess

    Love this post~ it prompted a lengthy conversation between me and hubby last night. I’d say I can’t do without my car and my computer (I’m a note-taker, but I couldn’t write a whole novel longhand)

  • Kimberly

    Great reminder of how things used to be! Sometimes I feel like I need to remind my kids how grandma and grandpa lived, without all these electronics and gadgets. And I’m with you, I couldn’t live without my washer and dryer. Well I did for a week last week – but it wasn’t easy. 🙂

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