My father was as conservative as you could get when it came to spending money. A little had to be stretched to go a long way in those days. However, he took pride in having things to make life easier—that is, if it didn’t cost too much.
When he built our house in the early 1930s, he definitely wanted the windows to be installed with rope pulleys and weights so they would be easier to raise and lower. Also, they would hang in place wherever you stopped them—no sturdy sticks required to prop them open.
He preferred a wood-burning heater to the fireplace because it produced more heat per unit of fuel, even though he had to cut the wood. The thin sheet metal on the sides of the heater would burn out in places and would have to be replaced every few years, but it was worth the expense to have a more comfortable room.
Before electricity, we had no washing machine, but my father was glad that galvanized tubs with legs came on the market. They kept my mother from having to bend over as far through the drudgery of rubbing clothes up and down on the washboard. And the tubs had the miracle feature of a drain spout with a screw stopper! We attached a rubber hose, pulled the tubs to the edge of the back porch and let gravity empty the water from the tubs when the washing was done.
My father was quite proud of the wood bin that he drew into the plans for the house. It extended out from the kitchen wall and could be filled through a little door on the outside. You could reach in through an opening on the inside and get stovewood for the Home Comfort range. No carrying wood up the back porch steps and piling it behind the range.
He wanted cistern water for everyday use because it was soft and easier on the hands and less soap was required to make a lather. It was positioned underneath the back porch floor, only a couple of steps from the kitchen door. No having to carry water from a well, or up the steep hill from the spring.
Hay went in the barn loft loose, not baled. We loaded it on the wagon with pitchforks and the mules hauled it to the barn with us riding on top. My father invested in a hayfork that he installed. Without trying to explain exactly how the hayfork worked for the benefit of those who do not know, I’ll just say that it was “set” deep into a pile of hay on the wagon and a mule at the opposite end of the barn was hitched to an attached rope that ran along a track under the roof of the barn. The mule pulled the hayfork to the position we wanted and we tripped a mechanism that let the hay fall in that place. Saved a lot of labor on a hot day when scratchy hay was sifting down our collar.
Mules were the only power except manpower on our farm. My father invented a small vehicle pulled by one mule that was more easily maneuvered than a regular wagon. It had a runner up front and two iron wheels in the back. He named it a slid-a-gon, combination of a slide and a wagon. He was quite proud.
Not one of the above “conveniences” is at my house today. Another example of “Everything is relative.”