Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Remembering the good old days

Today I was talking with a lady on the route I deliver. I am a letter carrier and I have seen her on her porch many times over the past several months. She told me that she will be 93 on Monday. I have spent several of my breaks standing on her sidewalk talking with this lady. Most of the time she talks about things she has done around the yard like trimming her bushes, weeding her yard, or the fact that she repaired her side walk. I have seen her doing some of the work.

Today she started in talking about improvements that were made to her home and her husband who is deceased. She said that she and her husband lived through the great depression. They bought their house for $2500. At the time the house needed a lot of work. People would ask why they bought a house that needed a lot of work. They would say because it was what they could afford. She said her husband was a proud man. He was proud to have a job at that time. Other people tried to get him to work for the WPA, but he chose to keep his job even though it required him to work harder and more hours. He was working 84 hours a week (12 hr days 7 days a week) and the WPA would have had him only work 3 ½ days at the same take home pay. At that time the going wage was $0.13 per hour.

She and her husband started working on the inside of the house. The first thing the wanted to do was tear out the inside walls and put in more insulation. She said they did all the work that they did to the house when they had money ahead. The only thing they ever owed for was the siding that was put on the house. They would work on the house in the evenings. She said when it got to point in the evenings she would say to her husband that it was enough work for that evening. They would stop work and she said they left the mess for the next day.

After her husband went to work the next day she would clean up the mess for the next evening. One day she decided she was going to work on one of the rooms during the day. She took a crow bar into the room and removed all the inner walls. When her husband got home she had all the stuff that she removed laying in the middle of the floor. She helped him install the insulation and helped install those one-foot square-ceiling tiles. She said she put some kind of glue on them that held them together and they still look as good as they did 50 years ago when it was done.

After they had this work done they decided they were going to put in a utility room. They talked about where they were going to have it in the house. She said most of the rooms in the house are small with the kitchen being the biggest room. One evening while she was gone to a meeting somewhere her husband decided to worked on this improvement. They had a small porch off the backside of the house that had an entrance to the basement. It was a cut-in in the backside of the house. Her husband thought it would be a good idea to square the house up and use that area for the utility room. He put together a 1-inch equal’s one-foot square model of what it might look like and had it ready to show her when she got home. That is where they put their utility room.
They bought a cement mixer and set out to do the work pouring the foundation. She said that the cement was heavy. She said the only work they didn’t do was the cabinetwork, which they hired someone to do.

Last winter she feel and broke her hip. Her children tried to get her to move to one of those yellow houses up on St. Joe Rd. I think she was referring to a retirement community. She told them she wanted to go home. She said she felt like a part of her husband was there. She said that is silly isn’t it. I said without hesitation "No it isn’t." I am sure she has a lot of found memories in that house. She said it is sometimes a little depressing. At this point I had to go as my break was over. I told her I wished her happy birthday incase I didn’t see her on Monday and left.

I was talking with a friend I hadn’t seen in quite a while. He is having trouble in his marriage. At one point I told him I felt people need to work together to accomplish things in life. Here is a great example of two people working together to accomplish they things they had decided to do. I also told him that I felt like I had been born at the end of "the good old days". Technology was supposed to make our lives better. Did it really? I would bet if her husband was on the porch today and she was gone that I would hear something very similar from him. They were born in a simpler time. I believe they formed better relationship back then because they didn’t have the distractions we have today. In sure in doing all this work together they formed a stronger bond. I am sure there were bad relationships back then as well. This one probably wasn’t perfect, as there is no such thing. It had its ups and downs like any relationship will. The bottom line is they worked together, thought of each other, and stayed together.
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