Finally, David is on his way to the Post Office to mail our tax returns to the federal and state governments.  While I was searching for envelops this morning to send the not-as-thick-this-year packages of tax forms, I stumbled over the dust-covered “Family Tree-Maker” software David gave me Christmas 1989. The unopened-until-today package is now in the bin minus a few of the diskettes which I will review later, probably 16 years from now.

David was upset by my tossing the package into the bin, because he spent a few dollars on it, but I was so busy before I retired I never had time to use it.  Six years after I retired, having earned a history degree, I resumed working on my tree using online software.

Most recently, I have uncovered a group of Scots by way of Canada (probably Nova Scotia) ancestors, arrived in the US as indentured servants or transported prisoners, or both. The descendants of these men all have Revolutionary War and Civil War military records, thus living up to their reputation as the “Fighting Scots” described by Jim Webb in his book Born Fighting.


The problem with technology is that you have to run in place to keep up. Actually, as one who came up the hard way with mainframes, punch cards, and flow charts, to say nothing of cameras that used real film, I think today’s technology is easier to use.  Nevertheless, while I was still actively employed, I encountered youth who “knew better” than me how to handle the modern software. Simple things flummoxed older folks.

I was thinking about this again because yesterday, I spoke with my sister Michelle, a retired high school librarian.  Before retirement, her job involved teaching kids how to use the Internet to do research.  More than once she complained to me about a student’s willingness to accept whatever they found on the Internet as truth.  But finding the truth is not that simple. The biggest problem as one wag put it is figures don’t lie, but liars figure.


The Washington Post editorial this morning (3/27/15) criticized the Administration for recent comments concerning a peace settlement in the Middle East. I encourage anyone interested in this situation and following developments there to read the editorial.  I get the paper version of the Post, but you can find an online version at your library.


This morning I whipped up some banana custard using my Mom’s recipe. When I was a kid, and sick, which was often, Mom made this custard, the recipe handed down from her mother and grandmother.  We had a cow and chickens when I was small, and like most women in the South and Midwest in those days, Mom took care of them, as well as a huge kitchen garden.

I took much for granted then, but today I am aware of just how hard Mom worked to make my childhood a success.  I only wish I could tell her how much I appreciate what she did for me.  David asked me this morning about our living conditions when I was younger.  I recalled wood burning stoves, and Mom sawing wood. We had a water well energized by a windmill powered pump (there is much wind in the prairie states).

 The reason women set one day aside to do laundry was because it was an arduous task.  You had to pump and heat the water, often in large containers on a stove. Until my brother was born in 1947, Mom washed clothes by hand using a tub and old washboard. Even then, we had a washer-wringer and washed clothes outside in several tubs.  The technology boom of the 1950s changed much of that. Eventually, Mom had an indoor washer, and later a dryer.

I felt deprived because I had to use a laundromat when I was a young mother.  Later I had an indoor washer and hung my clothes outside on a drying line.  I still miss the smell of clothes dried outside.  David installed a retractable line across the back porch, but I seldom use it because the droplets of fuel discharged by airplanes taking off and landing at DCA falls on everything including clothes hung outside.

Ah life, there’s always something.

Our little brick house


13 thoughts on “Fragments

  1. Banana custard. Mmm, sounds delicious!
    I remember mom hanging laundry out to dry. First on long wires strung between two posts at the back of the yard. Later on a single rotating pole with lines strung in concentric circles. Line-dried clothes in windy Okla. sure didn’t do my as-yet-undiagnosed allergies any good!


  2. We still hang our clothes out on the line. 🙂
    It really does amaze me to know what women of yesteryear had to do to raise her family.
    I’ll bet that banana custard was amazing.
    And darn! Thank you for reminding me about the taxes. We sent it in to our accountant, but haven’t heard back in a while.


  3. You covered so many topics it’s hard to pick one on which to comment. I, too, revere memories of my mother with 5 little girls (all born in 8 years !!) and how she made it all work so well.


  4. Yes, life always something. But better than the alternative. I used a wringer washer myself in our early married years. By the Second baby in less than two years we had saved enough for a washer but I still hung clothes and a million diapers on the outside line for a while after that. It was cold where we lived then, the stuff would freeze dry on the line and thaw out inside by the stove. Fun times!


  5. Love the Washington Picture. Yup, I too love that book. Not done yet, but he is an excellent writer. Yes, mother with a platen press working in the basement while my father was drunk somewhere. Mother raising chickens and ducks. We ate Germanic from the Milwaukee Settlement house cookbook. Down in the basement was an old converted once coal Heater now gas which sent the warm air room to room via asbestos ducts. Ah, mortality. LOL


  6. Definitely remember that old washer/wringer standing in the basement. Nothing but clotheslines in those days. And would I be in trouble if I knocked it to the ground playing ball! (which was often)


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