Sunday, June 06, 2010

Our Modern Conveniences--Which Do You Like Most?

I was thinking today about our modern conveniences and which I would most hate to do without. No doubt about a choice: a modern bathroom. I could live without the spa tub, but shudder to think of life without a toilet and shower and the air-conditioned rooms they're in.

In OUT OF THE BLUE, heroine Deirdre Dougherty travels from 1845 to our time. Her hostess Blossom Hunter has to teach her to use the toilet, shower, hair dryer, lotion, deodorant--you get the idea. Imagine what it would be like to be transported from an 1845 Irish two-room cottage to a luxurious modern lakeside home. Talk about culture shock!

That reminds me of a trip we took several years ago. Hero, Darling 2, my mother, and I went to Tennessee where my mom was born and lived until she was six. While there, we took a side trip to visit Hero's second and third cousins in Nashville and near Lebanon. They were lovely, gracious people. Please don't think I'm being critical when I tell this story.

We left my mom in Nashville with our hostess and drove out to Lebanon to see where Hero's great grandfather settled. The house was gone, but the smokehouse he had built still stood. The lady who inherited the property lived in a new home (relatively--built in the 1960's) built for her by her children. The cousin who showed us the way there told us there was no bathroom in the house. I thought great, Darling 2 has never used an outhouse, so this is her chance. LOL Wrong. When we asked about the facilities, the resident, Lily, told us "behind the big oak tree back of the house." Darling 2 and I looked but couldn't find an outhouse. We went back inside to ask for more directions. Lily told us there was no outhouse, we were just to squat behing a big tree!

Lily was in her 70's and had just had open-heart surgery. We couldn't imagine her using the great outdoors in all kinds of weather. She told us that when it was cold or rainy, she used the vacant chicken house. Now I don't want to give you the impression that Lily had just fallen off the turnip truck. She was a gracious, intelligent person. It turns out the limestone is so thick in that area, that a septic tank is a major expense and engineering problem. Her children pooled their resources to build her a new home, but didn't have the cash for the septic tank. So, she didn't have indoor plumbing other than a cistern to gather rainwater. She drew her drinking water from the well outside her home. What a hard life! This lady had borne thirteen children and raised eleven of them. Two had died as infants. No toilet, no hot water heater, no dishwasher, no washing machine, no dryer. Lord love a duck, I felt like a wimp compared to her!

Don't you wonder what new things will come along in the next twenty years? Probably in fifty years people will think we were quite primitive.  What's the one thing you would hate most to do without?

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