Posts Tagged ‘newspaper’

We are inundated and overwhelmed with information today. It is literally at the touch of a finger.

In 1912 communication was a lot harder to come by. So how did people communicate:

Early 1900 telephone

1. Telephone—it was still in its infancy. In 1912 very few households had a phone of their own. If you needed to make a call you’d need to find a store or neighbor that had one. At this time they were still three years away from the first coast to coast, international phone call.

2. Mail—letters was still the most common form of long distant communication. It was a great way to stay in touch with your family that moved away. Stamps cost two cents at that time. The invention of the zip code was more than fifty years away.

Early Post Office

3. Telegram—this was still the most common way to send a message if it was urgent and/or needed to be sent long distance.

Old Telegram

4. Face to face—visits were still the best way to spend times with friends. These were in the days when children were the largest interruption. There was no television, radio, computer, internet and all of the other interruptions we have today. My grandmother has often told me that when people visited with one another they actually faced one another, listened to one another, answered questions and shared a conversation.

Wow! Maybe we need to take lessons from the past.

Women Sharing Together in Person

5. Send a messenger—if you had an emergency and needed a doctor, minister or to send an urgent message to someone in the area, you would send a messenger to deliver it.

6. Newspaper—I’m not sure if this is really a form of communication as previously mentioned, however it was full with a lot of local news and facts. Pouring through old newspapers as a genealogist I’ve found mention of visiting relatives, church socials, births and marriages, trials, crop reports and other events that take place in the town. It was a great way to share more detailed information with everyone.
Below is information found in the Duncan, SC paper in 1903 by a fellow researcher:
We are living well with blackberries, frying chickens and garden vegetables in abundance.
Both C.P. REYNOLDS and Belton EDWARDS had cotton blooms open on the 8th.
John and Riley REYNOLDS from Wingo’s Mill, visited friends and relatives in this community last week.
Miss Isa HUGHES of Greers, visited T.B. EDWARDS on the 4th of July.

It is hard for us to fathom a time when information was not at the tips of our fingers, but it was not that long ago that people actually lived this way. What lessons can we learn from the past and how they communicated?

Newspaper from 1912

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We recently talked about answering the call of nature a century ago. However, there was much more to tending to these grooming habits than just going. Let’s take a quick look:

1. Toilet paper as we know it today did not exist. So what did they use? This is where the ultimate bathroom reading material began. Magazine and newspapers were kept nearby to clean up with once finished. I’ve often heard about family members using the Sears Catalogue for such needs. The Farmer’s Almanac actually punched a hole in it. This was allow it to be hung up in the outhouse for such needs.

Sears Catalogue

2. Some of the very poor may have kept strips of cloth to use. Unfortunately, these items would later have to be cleaned and sanitized for reuse. The really poor may have had nothing more than there hand to use. I recently read that in India the left hand was used, but in Africa the white hand. This is because the opposite hand was used for greeting others. Imagine how offended the other person would become if you offered the wrong hand.

3. Many other items were used such as grass, water, moss, hay, seashells, wood shavings, and a sponge. These were varied based on the person, region they lived, and economic status to name just a few. For example, in Hawaii they used coconut husks.

You could always use a handful of this moss

4. The toilet could not just be flushed, so someone had to clean these systems out. A hole had to be dug, someone had to collect the waste, or a way had to be found to dispose of the remains. These are just a few ways people of the past took care of this issue. My grandmother remembers the man that came around to “collect” the bucket that was used as the septic system.

5. What about the smell? My grandmother has told me that they used lime. When leaving the outhouse a person would sprinkle a scoop of lime over the contents. I’d think that if it did not have to be used again right away, keeping the door open might help with the smell.

Lime Powder

Another reminder of how much we have to be thankful for and the way times have changed. What would you have used for cleaning? How about for the smell?

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