Evelyn waved us in the front door and though she is hobbling a bit and not especially mobile, she is still great company. We sat and chatted for the better part of an hour about life as it was in New Jersey back in her youth. And for those wondering, Evelyn was born in 1916 and just recently celebrated her 96th birthday.
Yes things were quite different 90 years ago in a section of western New Jersey known as Middle Valley. The oldest of 5 children she grew up in a small farmhouse with no central heat, no indoor plumbing and no hot water. Baths were a once a week communal affair on Saturday night with Mom heating the bath water over the fire. It was communal in the sense that the water was not changed. And as the eldest she was the last one in the tub.
This probably explains Evelyn's preference later in life for showers.
Living quarters were tight with things even chummier in the winter as everyone slept downstairs near the stove and fireplace for warmth. And besides, nobody really wanted to sleep upstairs because that's where the slaughtered pigs were hung, in the girls' bedroom.
Every morning of every week began with work in the fields and on the farm. They raised chickens, pigs, dairy cows and an assortment of field grown vegetables. School days were not much different. Early in the fields, you stayed in your overalls and went off to the one room schoolhouse and then it was back out to the fields in the afternoon.
The stories had me smiling and I thought it was eye opening for my daughter to get a feel for how life was, especially for women. To personally hear the stories really made an impression.
As we chatted Evelyn mentioned some fellow Wyoming members who have been especially helpful these last several years. They are:
- Nick, for his pastoral visits and especially for delivering hot coffee in the mornings during the hurricane power outage.
- Judy Custer for putting up her Christmas tree this year,
- David and Linda Gellatly for helping her manage the house
- and Berit for bringing over food and then sitting there with arms crossed, watching to make sure she does in fact eat. That so sounds like Berit!