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When I Was a Girl

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By Kimara - Posted on 26 August 2008

When I was a child, I use to love hearing my grandparents talk about “when we were young”. It amazed me how different their lives had been from mine. My maternal grandparents began their lives in a small farming community in the middle of Texas. Their main form of transportation was a horse and buggy and outhouses were a way of life. My fraternal grandparents lived in the city and bought produce from street vendors that peddled their wares off horse drawn wagons. They placed a notice in their window for the “Ice Man” if they needed a block of ice to keep their non electric iceboxes cold, and their heat was provided by burning coal, which was delivered via a coal chute in the back of their house. How cool was that?!

Children’s fascination with the lives of their grandparents probably began with the dawn of man. I can just see Eve sitting around knitting with her grandbabies at her feet. “You see, children, when I was young, people didn’t wear clothes. And snakes could talk. True story!” And happily, generation after generation, century after century, grandparents have shared their beginnings with their grandchildren. In what has become a famous and enduring grandparent story, Laura Ingalls Wilder shared her story of growing up during the westward expansion in her Little House series. City children were fascinated with tales of critters and covered wagons, one room school houses and log cabins, as Laura and her family sought to find the perfect place to settle. Children love the romance and idealism of different times and different places. And it is the responsibility, nay, the obligation, of grandparents to impart this knowledge to their own grandchildren.

Recently, I was thinking about this. I think the coming of fall and the start of another school year has made me feel nostalgic. I realized that, yes, many things have changed since I was child, but it doesn’t seem nearly as dramatic as the comparison of my grandparents to me.

Let’s see…when I was a kid we had to break in a new pair of shoes…they didn’t come ergonomically designed for our comfort. You were guaranteed a mongo blister on the back of your heel, and everyone, the first few days of school, hobbled around, waiting for the leather at the back of their shoes to soften up. Moms permed their daughter’s hair, vainly trying to create little clones. Girls could not wear pants to school. It wasn’t until I was a junior in high school that we were allowed to wear pants. Trust me, during unmerciful Chicago blizzards, standing at the bus stop in miniskirts was no picnic! And there was no such thing as backpacks. We precariously carried our stacks without assistance from North Face or JanSport. Until I was in fifth grade our television was black and white. Plus, our televisions had rabbit ear antennas, and we only got 4 channels. I didn’t know anyone who was L.D. or A.D.H.D. but polio was still a parent’s concern. There were tons of drive-in restaurants and drive-in movies, but there was no McDonalds, Burger King or Wendy’s. Most households had telephones, but many houses still had party lines, meaning 1 or 2 other families had the same phone line you had and you could not use your phone if another family was already on. Very trying, indeed!

See what I mean? Someday, when my grandchildren are a little older, and I start sharing stories, it really won’t seem that impressive. There were no radical changes, just subtle nuances that define a two generation rift. Heck, with the retro trend in clothing, they’re even wearing the same things I wore! Frankly, I think the most impressive changes have occurred in the past decade with personal computers, cell phones, the internet and cable. These were things that their own parents didn’t have when they were very young. So, I suppose I need to think of ways of glamorizing my youth. When my grandchildren get around to asking me, “What was it like when you were a little girl, Gammy?” I’m going to have to think of something that will knock their socks off. Hmmm…I know…when I was a little girl there were no seatbelts or carseats. Now that is something they won’t believe!

Grandparents are our personal historians. What is something that your grandparents shared with you that you found unbelievable or totally awesome?       

 

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These are good photos of you and it's really nice to read a story like this. Looks like a diary of your happy days. - Paramount Song

My grandparents and I were/are very close. I loved spending time with them and learning all about their live when they were young. I mean seriously, they were so OLD! (Though they were only in their late 40s when I was born)

Some of the fondest memories I have are of my paternal great-grandmother. She came over from Sweden when she was 3 yrs old. Even though she lived in the US for over 90 years, to the day she died she still talked with a thick Swedish accent. I LOVED listening to her lilted voice and think of her every time I hear a Swedish accent.

My granfather came over from Denmark when he was just a year old, so he remembers nothing of the "home country". He spoke Danish at home but English at school. He lost his recollection of Danish once his parents passed on, but when Grampa developed Alzheimers, his mind regressed and he started speaking Danish again at times. It was pretty amazing to hear him speaking the language he couldn't remember more than a word or two of when he was in his "right mind."

Love the pics! You were quite the babe! LOL

My step grandmother's mother was Jewish. She married a Christian man and raised their children in the Christian faith. My grandmother was a teen in Nazi Germany. She lived in constant fear of being found out. Can you imagine, every day wondering whether or not your Jewish ancestory would cost you your life? I can't. She told stories of being places, like the library, and seeing the soldiers barge in and the initial sense of relief she felt when they didn't come for her, then the horror she felt when she realized a friend was taken away. Right now DH's job is iffy. It really is very unsettling but I think that this is nothing next to what my grandmother went through. Puts things in perspective!

BTW L0VED the photos! Was that second pic one of the perms you talked about ;) My mom did the same thing to me. Guess some things never change!

My grandma grew up in Alabama and my mom grew up in central Florida. Having just lived four years in southern Georgia, I'm trying to get my head around the idea of living in the deep South before air conditioning! Yikes! (And central Florida before Disney World. Talk about a cataclysmic change.)

Very fun blog and OMG loved the pics!!! And I know what you mean about things changing a lot since we were children. I didn't have a computer at my disposal until I went to college! And now it's almost impossible to remember life without the internet!

Eye opening grandparent story. In what turned out to be a monumentally stupid decision, I lived with a guy in college, who turned out to be a total jerk. I had this elaborate ruse going so my mom wouldn't find out. Of course, she did and nearly disowned me! When I came home for Christmas things were very tense. On Christmas day we saw my Nonna. I was expecting Nonna to lecture me. She took me off alone, looked at me and said, "When we were young, Nonno and I couldn't wait either. We "made intercourse" before we were married. It was good." and that was that! Wow, I thought. Nonna was a bad girl ;) Life is funny sometimes!

Have a good week all!