Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Skill Sets

My niece Tina has blogged about how grateful she is for her new dishwasher (http://livingcerebralpalsy.com/). Tina gets around in a wheelchair, so hand-washing dishes at a standard height sink was a difficult and sloppy job. But that was what she had had to do for quite some time. Reading Tina's blog started me thinking about all the changes and progress that has occurred over the last hundred years or so in all things mechanical and digital.

It made me think about how the world worked in my grandparents' youth, in my parents' youth, and throughout my own life. As technology moved from horse and buggy days, to railroads, to aviation, to the space age, and from hand-copied or hand-set-type printed materials to the vast possibilities in computer-prepared printed materials, new skill sets had to be developed. As these new skills were developed, old skills became outmoded and lost.

One of the things that the currently popular post-apocalyptic literature deals with is how people learn to cope and survive when the technology they are accustomed to no longer works and they do not know how to do things without it.

In just the 70 years of my life things have changed dramatically. The first car I remember my parents having was a little old Ford with a rumble seat. It had to be cranked to start the motor! (If you don't know about rumble seats and cranking, look it up!) Today's automobiles are highly computerized. Some talk to you; some can even automatically parallel park for you. I, for one, am really glad not to have to crank my car every time I want to go somewhere!

My son-in-law, Chad, is fascinated by old things. Some of the "antiques" he has collected are things that were great advancements for my grandmother and mother and were still used by me when I was in my 20s. For example, the wringer washing machine. Before the electric wringer washer, laundry was a hard-labor job. My mother remembered her mother loading the buggy with kids and laundry and taking them to a spring located not too far from their log house. And that is where she did laundry when the weather was mild. The rest of the time water was heated on the coal range, poured into a galvanized wash tub, scrubbed on a washboard (something else you might need to look up!), then rinsed in another tub of cold water. When the job was done, the washtubs had to be emptied--again, a labor-intensive job. When my parents were first married, Mother did laundry in the bathtub with a washboard. So the wringer washer and rinse tubs were a really big step in making wash day easier. Then, of course, the laundry was hung on a clothesline outdoors to dry. Still a lot of work, but much kinder to the back and knuckles.

Today, I might think, with a sigh, that it's laundry day. Then I move my laundry basket from the closet, where it is kept out of sight, approximately 15 feet to the compact laundry closet containing my stacked set of washer and dryer. Turn on the water, pour in the detergent, toss in a load of clothes, shut the lid and let the machine work. Take out the damp laundry, move it up into the dryer, turn it on and walk away until it beeps to let me know it is time to take out the clean, dry laundry. Oh, my, such hard labor!

This is growing too long. I may continue following this line of thought another day.


  1. Been out in the back yard, I see! Heh, if you frame this photo and and enter it in the fair, knowing how our judges prefer "old stuff", you just might win first prize! ;o)

    I think Chad's fascination with "antiques" is actually an addiction...

  2. I do remember how wringer washer and put rubber diapers through that wringer diapers and explodes and I ruined a couple of shirts
    Did you ever get anything caught in a wringer?or ruined a couple of shirts?

    Tell me the stories of where you have lived,
    the clothes you have washed with wringer washer

    1. Yes, I learned to fold shirts before putting them through the wringer so that the buttons were cushioned inside a fold of cloth. I popped off some buttons before I figured that out! And it was a real chore to untangle the mess when things got caught and wrapped around and around the wringer. Even though there was a pressure release on the wringer, undoing the tangle could be very difficult.

      I have lived in Wyoming, Nebraska, Illinois, Colorado, and South Dakota, but somehow always end up back in Wyoming. I do love Wyoming and I have a lot of family here. The winters can seem too long, though!

      Thanks for writing!