Tuesday, December 22, 2009

No TV or phones? Yes, kids, that's the way it used to be

In November my daughter and I went to a local craft show on a whim. Just as we were on the way out, we walked past a few more tables. I nearly missed the small table with the books on it, then the woman stopped me and invited me to take a look. I was drawn to the titles, one of which is the title of this article. People that know me know I am enamored with old homes and aprons and vintage Pyrex and the like, so I’m always thrilled to listen to stories from people that lived in earlier times. The author, Laura Konger Nicodemus, grew up on a 30 acre farm in the 1930’s near Churubusco, a small town north of Fort Wayne
It had always been Laura’s dream to paint a picture of the daily lifestyle of a child growing up on a farm, and the text and the illustrations in these four books is delightful and informative. Children are fascinated to learn that there wasn’t always electricity, TV, phones, and she ‘shares the feeling of freedom from the visits to the outhouse in the middle of the winter cold and the summer rains’ when indoor plumbing was installed.

I bought the set of four books and Laura autographed them. I am excited to read them with my children and open up their minds to how children their age used to live, compared to the relative life of luxury they live today. These books are a great classroom resource for elementary teachers also. Visit www.tcswoodentoys.com or The Wild at 884 Logan St. to purchase ($20 for the set of four). I’m also hosting a Christmas giveaway on my blog, an autographed set of these four books! Tell me something special you remember about your grandparent(s) or parent(s). The winner will be announced Dec. 25th.

Merry Christmas!

Thank you for playing along!  Be sure to sign in or post your email when you leave your comment so I'll have a way to reach you!  Pass this on, too.  Good Luck!


And the winner is....Kristen (Emlynsmommy)!  Thanks again for these great memories and Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!  And welcome to Noblesville, Michael.  :)


  1. Loved your nice article in the Noblesville Current (and here.) My grandparents were on a "party line," and I recall being instructed to NOT answer the phone unless it rang twice. Only one ring was for the neighbors - two rings served my grandparents - three rings another neighbor. The phone was a "two digit," call... ie: two numbers. Our home phone was three digits and not a party line so anytime the phone rang at home it was for someone in the family. Thanks again, Merry Christmas. Michael Gillard ( Mdwizard28@att.net ) New Noblesville resident.

  2. My grandmother died when I was nine years old, but I still remember her so clearly. I always saw her once a week, on "Grandma's Day", usually a Tuesday or Wednesday. I looked forward to that day every week! She made me feel so special. Grandma Grew, as I called her (I don't know why) always made certain to have my favorite food when I came over for dinner- either mac n' cheese, ham, or McDonald's Filet o' Fish meals! I had special stuffed animals kept just at Grandma's that she lined up for me every time I visited. Grandma Grew adored me, and I felt the same about her. She even helped me name my imaginary friends, Felix (a cat) and Archibald (a mouse). I still have dreams about her, at age 39, and I wish she could have been in my life longer. Thanks for giving me the chance to share, Krista. Amy Shankland (amy.shankland@hotmail.com).

  3. these are wonderful! thanks for sharing, Michael and Amy! :)

    I'll share one of my grandparents (no entry though of course)--one christmas my grandma and grandpa surprised my 2 sisters and I with doll beds my grandpa had made and grandma had sewed mattresses, pillows, sheets and quilts for them. I still have my bed, and now my children play with it.

  4. I grew up with a very large extended family. My grandparents had nine children, my mother being the baby. So by the time I was born, I already had second cousins. Grandma and Grandpa seemed to find enough love for all of us. I remember being annoyed as a kid because of all the "extra" people who were always at our family gatherings. By "extra" I mean people who weren't really related to us. Grandma and Grandpa would invite stragglers from around town who didn't have any family or just didn't have anyplace to go for the holiday. Now that I am grown, and my Grandparents are gone I realize what a great gift they have taught me, to show kindness and love to everyone. There were tons of people at their funerals, and I didn't recognize some of them, can't help but wonder what my Grandma and Grandpa were for them.


  5. I grew up without the advantage of having my grandparents nearby. One set stayed behind in Ohio where my parents grew up when we moved to Indiana for a job for my father, and the other served as missionaries in Argentina until I was a teenager. But I am not without memories, as we were fortunate enough to have not one, but TWO sets of neighbors adopt us as surrogate grandparents!
    Perhaps the some of my best memories were made sitting around a little table in the minute, mint green kitchen of one of those "grandparents," a woman named Beverly Hannah. While that kitchen was short on space, there was never a shortage of ham sandwiches, games of "31" played for pennies we never kept but rather returned to their tin for the next game, cakes, home perms, drawing lessons, stories of the past, and most importantly love.
    I learned things sitting around that tiny table that every girl needs to know. The things I learned began with card games and dominoes, cooking and gardening secrets (Bev always had the best cucumbers, radishes and tomotoes - and she even had her own grapevine) and how to properly shade a charcoal drawing, and extended to things that were of the more intangible realm. Self-sufficiency, love for animals and nature, the importance of community and helping each other, and perhaps best of all, self-esteem. Cont...

  6. Beverly was one of my biggest cheerleaders and fostered in me a desire to grow beyond the small town where we lived. She always encouraged my piano playing and loved to listen to me play even the simplest of songs when I first began lessons. She shared stories with me of her youngest son Ted, who was a dancer and singer on Broadway...now I know where that dream of mine first began!
    I loved to hear stories of when how she grew up, the sacrifices made for "the war," and how she and her husband Don first met and "courted." How they worked hard to build a life together, build a house together, build a family together. Those stories taught me about the importance of hard work and perseverence.
    I spend all of this time telling you of the countless hours spent talking with this dear woman in her kitchen to convey the importance of her life, the depth of her love for me, to whom she wasn't even related by blood, but with whom instead she welcomed as family by God's love in and through her.
    I have far too many memories to share them all. But the memory I share with you today comes from my friendship with her once I became an adult. I dearly wanted my children to know Beverly, my surrogate grandmother. When Emlyn was only a couple of months old, we went back to that little town to meet with Beverly. By this time she had changed much. My memories of her included lots of outside time - she was so self-sufficient and was always out in her garden. Today she rested in one of the kitchen chairs, the rungs on which I had never been allowed to put my feet. Now her hair was no longer the brown I remembered (I knew by now that she had colored it then) but was left to grow gray and mostly untended. Her movements were much slower and more deliberate, and arthritis had withered the hands that used to so nimbly sew, cook and paint beautiful pictures. But the spirit, the spirit was the same. That thing within her that had made her so strong and resilient, a generous spitfire, still burned strong.
    I once again sat at the tiny table, in the mint green kitchen and gazed at the woman that had meant so much to me my entire life, only this time I looked with the eyes of an adult, a mother myself. I took in the moment, understanding that there may not be another like it. My neighbor, my mentor, my surrogate grandmother, my friend, held my daughter in her lap and spoke of the bright future she saw when she looked at my baby. She was quick with the advice, as she had always been, and I was able to see now that the woman I had once believed knew everything was mortal. I loved her even more in that moment for it. She wasn't superwoman after all, but she had loved me in such a fierce way to make me believe she must be. It's a rare gift to have someone invest themselves so whole-heartedly in your life. I am blessed that she gave of herself so fully to ME. Cont...

  7. As our time expired, she left the room and returned holding a small pillow, with a beatiful case embellished with eyelit lace with a thin pink ribbon tied in a bow. Though it had been years since we had been able to spend meaningful time together, she had made for Emlyn a "Pew Pillow," an idea born from her observance of young mothers trying to lay down their infants in the pews at church. I was touched by the thought of the time and effort she had spent crafting the gift with me and my baby in mind, despite the pain in her hands. Once again she had found a way to bless my heart right where I was.
    The next time I saw Beverly was to be the last. Shortly after that afternoon visit, I received the news that she had been diagnosed with cancer. I quickly went to see her again, along with my mother. She was lying on her couch in the rarely used living room, in a nightgown. Never in my entire life had I seen her in a nightgown. She always was dressed with hair done and makeup on.
    Even in her weakness, she talked about being disappointed to have missed going to visit "the elderly," (that brought a smile to my face) and her desire to help others. It was obvious to all who saw her that she was dying. Within a fortnight, she was gone.
    Perhaps one of the greatest gifts I have ever, or will ever receive, is the gift of Beverly Hannah in my life. From the moment I stood at 4 years old in the alley watching her tend to her flowers and she invited me in, to watching her die with courage, love and hope for a future with Jesus, I was, and AM blessed.