Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Homespun entertainment was early leisure activity

"Come over and sit till bedtime," was a familiar invitation when I was a girl and probably a frequent entertainment when the old log cabin housed the Robnetts on this farm. Without radio or any of the miracles that followed, early farm families were not bored with life. People of all ages found satisfaction, relaxation and reward in their non-working hours.

Pleas Robnett, the first owner of this farm, is presumed to be the builder of a very old, dilapidated cabin that was in the yard in 1951. Did that family have TV? Internet? Movies? Compact discs? Airplanes? Cars? Toys that plug in? Talking, crying, wetting dolls? Balloons that land on the ceiling? Computer games? Fast food after ballgames?

None of the above! Boys played with sling shots, wooden pistols and guns, real bows and arrows and wooden swords. They also whittled tops to spin, wooden chains with interlocked links, toy boats and animals; they pushed barrel hoops around the yard with a lath with a cross piece on one end.

My brother bought a big, used Bearcat bicycle and was forever tinkering with it and riding it on the gravel driveway.

I learned to propel Jim’s bicycle with my left foot on the left pedal and the right leg reaching underneath the top bar to the right-side pedal.

When I was 9 years old, I had my own bike to keep me from killing myself on Jim’s.

Girls made dolls by dressing one-piece wooden clothespins and made yarn dolls with waste pieces of wool knitting yarn. We played house in the shade of big trees whose roots sprawled out above ground. We used broken glass and china to embellish the various rooms and twigs and little rocks for landscaping. With a sibling or neighbor child, we made and played with string telephones - a tight string between two tin cans. We dressed kittens in doll clothes and hitched a goat to a wooden box on wheels and "drove" it around hauling baby chickens or kittens.

Mothers all had an abundance of wooden spools that were too good to throw away. Jim and I made little spool tractors with rubber band "engines" and two twigs; by winding the rubber band tight, the tractor would pull itself along.

What did Mrs. Robnett do in her scant leisure? An attractive, immaculate home was her pride and joy. Neighbors visited without warning, and women were proud to have them find things in perfect order. Mrs. Robnett probably quilted, knitted, crocheted, tatted and embroidered.

Mother’s good friend, Bess, lived without telephone or automobile. Her special leisure time was spent with flowers. She shared roots of peonies, iris, cannas and many others; she saved seeds for friends. Driving a mare hitched to a buggy, Bess was the first one at church almost every Sunday, and she decorated the graves of family members regularly. She took eggs, sour cream and butter to the general store to exchange for things she and her husband, John, could not produce on the farm: coffee, sugar, kerosene for lamps and John’s tobacco. While at the store, she waited her turn to telephone her mother in the next county.

Consider the turn-of-the-century hobby of sending colorful post cards. Today, collectors seek the cards that are sentimental, humorous, off-color, insulting, loving, war-related - you name it!

A hundred years ago, a message on such a card was sometimes, "Hope you arrived home safely," or "Why don’t you write?" or other non-information!

The cost of mailing that card was only one penny!

Click here to return to the index

 Subscribe in your RSS reader

Copyright © 1994-2010 Sue Gerard. All Rights Reserved. No text or images on this website may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the author, except small quotations to be used in reviews.