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The older person's experience. (1 Viewer)

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
I was reading a thread where someone was talking about 'Historical research' for 1972, that doesn't seem like history to me, more like yesterday. The idea of the thread is somewhere that us older members can not only chat about the bad old days among ourselves, but make our expertise available to younger members writing about the time when we were younger.

For example, this morning the grass is white with frost, but when I walked out into the hall both bedroom doors, the living room door and the kitchen door were all open, that's central heating for you. When I was young we had a coal fire in the living room and a paraffin heater in the bathroom sometimes. A coal fire takes time to heat a room, so it would not be worth lighting in the morning, and there was no double glazing. In the morning you moved quickly and dressed straight away, showers were something Australians talked about, good days we washed our hands and face, sometimes our necks. Doors were shut, a comedian who tried to use 'Shut that door' as a catch phrase nowadays would seem strange (Was it Tommy Handley?) but 'Put the wood in the hole' or 'Were you born in a barn' were common phrases before central heating.

Things like that can make a story come alive, I saw a show recently where someone was trying the 'new' instant coffee and the wisdom that it should not be made with boiling water was shared, bang on, I remember that, it was a real touch of authenticity.
 

SueC

Staff member
Senior Mentor
I was reading a thread where someone was talking about 'Historical research' for 1972, that doesn't seem like history to me, more like yesterday. The idea of the thread is somewhere that us older members can not only chat about the bad old days among ourselves, but make our expertise available to younger members writing about the time when we were younger.

For example, this morning the grass is white with frost, but when I walked out into the hall both bedroom doors, the living room door and the kitchen door were all open, that's central heating for you. When I was young we had a coal fire in the living room and a paraffin heater in the bathroom sometimes. A coal fire takes time to heat a room, so it would not be worth lighting in the morning, and there was no double glazing. In the morning you moved quickly and dressed straight away, showers were something Australians talked about, good days we washed our hands and face, sometimes our necks. Doors were shut, a comedian who tried to use 'Shut that door' as a catch phrase nowadays would seem strange (Was it Tommy Handley?) but 'Put the wood in the hole' or 'Were you born in a barn' were common phrases before central heating.

Things like that can make a story come alive, I saw a show recently where someone was trying the 'new' instant coffee and the wisdom that it should not be made with boiling water was shared, bang on, I remember that, it was a real touch of authenticity.

Good idea, Olly. I remember "making do" more than is popular now. We didn't throw out, but used up - just about everything. The furniture was the furniture, with rare exceptions, and we almost had assigned seating. Dad had his chair, of course, both in the living room and the dinning room. We didn't remodel the look of our home, or to be honest I don't think we had a "look." I was married when I first heard the term "Early American" as a style of furnishings I wanted for our home. Prior to that, it was modern - Scandinavian designs that were clean and sleek, that had pleased my husband. But a neighbor had seen one of my wedding gifts was an antique Mary Gregory vase, so it completely changed my point of view, one I stuck with most of my married life. And stick we did. My husband had no interested in how I created our home - he just wanted it to be nice when he came home from work. Unlike my youngest daughter and her husband, who were both so involved in the style of their home that over fifteen years after they married, they finally have purchased their first "new" sectional for the first time. Prior to that - all rooms filled with family donations, because they just couldn't agree on a "style."

We would be a good resource for those who want to know what it was really like, Olly. My dad wore a hat and overcoat in the winter and dress shoes with shorts in the summer. My mother always "dressed" to go out, wearing undergarments we no longer like. We listened to the ball games on the radio and to this day, hearing about a line drive on the radio takes me back to less stressful days, warm, grass between my toes. Some days I wish it was more like that, and am sad sometimes that my grand kids will never know what a true summer vacation was like.
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
Good idea, Olly. I remember "making do" more than is popular now. We didn't throw out, but used up - just about everything. The furniture was the furniture, with rare exceptions, and we almost had assigned seating. Dad had his chair, of course, both in the living room and the dinning room. We didn't remodel the look of our home, or to be honest I don't think we had a "look." I was married when I first heard the term "Early American" as a style of furnishings I wanted for our home. Prior to that, it was modern - Scandinavian designs that were clean and sleek, that had pleased my husband. But a neighbor had seen one of my wedding gifts was an antique Mary Gregory vase, so it completely changed my point of view, one I stuck with most of my married life. And stick we did. My husband had no interested in how I created our home - he just wanted it to be nice when he came home from work. Unlike my youngest daughter and her husband, who were both so involved in the style of their home that over fifteen years after they married, they finally have purchased their first "new" sectional for the first time. Prior to that - all rooms filled with family donations, because they just couldn't agree on a "style."

We would be a good resource for those who want to know what it was really like, Olly. My dad wore a hat and overcoat in the winter and dress shoes with shorts in the summer. My mother always "dressed" to go out, wearing undergarments we no longer like. We listened to the ball games on the radio and to this day, hearing about a line drive on the radio takes me back to less stressful days, warm, grass between my toes. Some days I wish it was more like that, and am sad sometimes that my grand kids will never know what a true summer vacation was like.
To further this discussion, I'd like to point out that it was only 1968 when American Blacks were finally seen as whole humans under the law and given the right to vote. There are so many people that were alive during that time! People that were directly impacted and marched for the right to vote, black, white, Latino, Mexican, Asian, etc. The memories of those times, the beliefs from that time are still around today. All many of us would have to do is ask our parents or even friends what it was like for them.

My point is, we as writers, can't create characters and exclude all history that would have most certainly influenced the ideas and behaviors of our characters. This stuff isn't ancient history, it's in the lifetime of people we know. If you are twenties, your grandparents lived through the civil rights era. They lived through the gay rights. They lived through the crack epidemic. They probably know what it's like to have to change the channel with a knob on a black and white TV, and even hear the sound of the TV tubes. They were around when music videos were introduced.

Ask those that were there to read your work. You're bound to get a much richer product.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
The austerity of making do was probably even more of a thing over here. The Festival of Britain was supposed to be a demonstration that we had recovered from the war, but we hadn't really. Our chairs were odd and various, we inherited them mainly from my Grandmother. Before the war she ran one of the first Youth Hostels and had furnished it by going to country house sales and auctions in the early thirties, our front room carpet was a quarter of what must have been a huge, and beautiful, hand made carpet.

Vegetables were different, the first time I tasted sweet corn was when a cousin took us to dinner in the American embassy. I had never heard of things like aubergines and avocado that are common place today. My father had a first in agriculture and kept an allotment so we were never short of food, but even in the shops veg. were seasonal, there was no lettuce in winter, or root veg. in summer.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
My parents, here in Western PA, USA, still practiced little Depression-era things that they had learned from their parents and were zealous in attempting to teach them to us. They were also avid back-to-the-land homesteaders.

Especially my mother (currently 73 y/o) who carefully washed and dried plastic Ziploc bags for reuse, wiped foil down and carefully folded for reuse, and always wrapped my school lunches in flimsy waxed paper because buying plastic sandwich bags or using foil would have been wasteful and expensive. It was a source of shock to her that there were relatives who wrapped their lunches in foil, it was like they just didn't care. I heard about this many times.

Turning lights off when you left a room wasn't just a sensible thing to do, it was almost a religious belief.

When my parents bought their property they bought the 20 acres (all of which is on a pretty steep hill and some of which is almost vertical) and the house was thrown in for free. Depression-era housing which was solid enough as it went (even cheap buildings in the past seem to have been hardier in a lot of cases than cheap buildings now) but with single-pane windows and, when renovated, turned out to have newspaper stuffed in between the studs of the walls as insulation.

If you talk to kids about Jack Frost painting windows now, do they know what you mean? That was the only upside to sleeping under a mound of blankets and getting up and getting dressed in record time. We were kids...we didn't rate heat in our room that had two outside walls with two tall single-pane windows.

My parents weren't willing to pay for electric or oil heat and natural gas service didn't reach to their rugged portion of ground. Determined to be self-sufficient (especially in the 70's) my parents heated with a wood burner and heated the kitchen and their bedroom with kerosene (same as paraffin, I guess?) heaters. So one thing I know is how self-sufficiency and the necessity of having firewood for winter can affect you all year long.

And when the woodburner smoke gets a little backed up how you can get on the school bus smelling smoky so that everyone sniffs and thinks of smoked sausage when you walk by. You would have thought this would have made me more popular.

Large canning garden. My summer was completely scheduled by what the garden needed and then helping to can/freeze everything.

Similarly, the demands of haying. When my grandparents called and it was a good day for haying, you didn't argue. You went and threw hay on a wagon and stacked it in the barn.

Ah, anyone remember the phone table and all the rules for using the family phone? Does anyone else remember the party line? Thankfully the party line didn't last long after we moved into my childhood home but I remember my mom picking up the receiver and listening politely to see if the line was free or if our chatty neighbor was dominating it as usual. Sometimes the only way to call out was to break into the conversation and claim that there was an emergency.
 
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Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
My parents were both teachers, so there was a reasonable, if not massive, income coming in. Most people in their position tried hard to save as much as they could, but my parents remembered the depression and the way money devalued almost overnight and were more interested in having the things they wanted, so we had a phone and a car, which most people did not.

The other thing was the long summer holiday, my 'uncle' used to have a small farm, I would think about four or five acres of fruit, and we would go and camp there for several weeks in the summer. Dad would make himself useful on the farm, he had a degree in agriculture and could manage all the more skilled jobs like pruning and grafting as well as any farm worker, that was when I started learning such things. I remember dad saying how much he disliked it when a colleague said they had just bought an apple tree, and could he prune it for them? "They don't understand, they spend ten shillings on a good tree and I come around and cut off seven and sixpence worth." I know the feeling, though for me it has mainly been roses and lavender. :)
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
How often were people expected to take showers in the 70’s? And what about deodorant?

My feeling is that we were still somewhat behind then, people were still getting showers fitted, the mixer tap with a shower hose had arrived in the sixties ? I think, it is hard to remember when things happened exactly. I can remember being told that the English bus queue was legendary in Australia. There were two factors that influenced change that I can think of, there were advertising campaigns by soap companies that emphasised body odour, and people's experience of showers in holiday chalets abroad introduced them to the idea of a proper dedicated shower. But I would be hard pushed to date this properly, I know when I was a boy in the '50's a daily wash and a bath once a week was the norm, though maybe small boys ... A lot changed in the sixties, I am not sure how far we had got by the seventies, I think it was still ongoing in England.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
I have a feeling this is snark.

Cleanliness has been next to Godliness since way before my generation, lol.

There was deodorant a long time before anything smelled like Teen Spirit in the 90's. But if you really want an in-depth look at this...I'm happy to help.


Not snark at all. I was born in 1976. And I think it’s just hard for my parents to remember exactly, but from then they grew up to now it seems like 3-4 showers a week maybe in the 70’s? I know for my parents when they were growing up there was the weekly bath and that seemed to be what was going on for most of my grandparents lives, but my grandparents are all gone, they were all born around the turn of the century. In MadMen I think they were going with a few times per week as well... also hard to pin-point.

Deodorant has a fascinating marketing story in my opinion. They basically shamed people into buying their product, trying to create a market when there had not been one before. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/hist...onvinced-americans-they-smelled-bad-12552404/ Of course that was in my grandparents lifetime, not my Parents’s lifetime. I recently learned about how people in the 1800’s were not taught to wash their bodies so much as it was considered important to “change the linens”. On your bed. Especially when I’ll “we changed the linens”. Anyway, not snark. I read a lot of history, my dad is in his 80’s and my mom is a genealogist, my husband is a historian and then there is me the archeology nut. History is usually pretty strange stuff and What might shock others about different time periods Im pretty chill about. Reality is what it is and makes sense for the time.
 

Bloggsworth

WF Veterans
A Penny Chew and a Gobstopper, all we were allowed per week during rationing - Chasing American service personel across Parker's Piece "Got any gum chum..."

According to Cambridge University, Modern History starts at about 1800, certainly not 1972.
 

Gofa

Friends of WF
Some things that used to be over pretty quick
now take twice as long at least
and this is a good thing

many things dont work as well as they used to
and yet
other things give a spoon full of sugar cause the medicine goes down
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
A Penny Chew and a Gobstopper, all we were allowed per week during rationing - Chasing American service personel across Parker's Piece "Got any gum chum..."

According to Cambridge University, Modern History starts at about 1800, certainly not 1972.

A penny chew? They must have been massive, my memory is of fruit salads and black jacks (With a picture of him on the wrapper) being eight for a penny, you could get two for a farthing. The end counter was the tobacco section, they did sell cigarettes, but there was also a brass scale in the middle of the counter for weighing loose tobacco. At the fish shop you could get a penny worth of chips or a halfpenny of scraps, that was all the odd bits of batter that broke off when they were frying fish. Pennies were those big copper coins, the brick lorries used to stop at the end of the street and we would collect the brick dust to polish pennies. If they were put on the railway line at the level crossing the train going over them would flatten them out to twice the size. We used to look out for 'bun' pennies, early Victorian ones where the Queen still wore her hair in a bun in the picture. Silver coins from the Old King were still real silver, not cupro-nickle, they stayed in circulation until the price of silver made them worth more as metal than coins, then quickly vanished. Five shillings in silver weighed an ounce, a pound was called a pound because it was the value of a pound of silver back in the middle ages, so inflation had been four hundred percent over some five hundred years or so. It is almost £18 an ounce now, ouch.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
Yes, I'd like to write a dialogue piece with 'florins' & 'dollars.' I always forget what a dollar was. Wikipedia keeps it all, the knowledge, for reference.

...

Fruit salad & blackjack rules were still in force during the 1970s - at this rather strange school I attended a couple of years - when the folks had cash - before my descent to grammar school [shudder]. That's another thing that has disappeared, teachers with military rank and brain damage after Flanders experience, and the cane.

Charabangs...if I spelled it properly?

Father banging on about Audy Murphy:

'Not only were he an actor, he were a soldier before actor, aye...'

'So this is real killing, Daddy? Wow.'

'Yes, all real, and those are real dirty Japs.'

'I hate Japs, Daddy.'

'Good boy...go tell Grandfather.'
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
One of my characters in this 1972 book was born in a Japanese Internment camp. The one in Topaz, Utah. It is now 1972 so she is in her late 20’s/ early 30’s. She is trying to find her voice as a writer but has not brought her Japanese heritage into it or the prejudice she’s experienced into her writing yet.

How did opinions on the Japanese change over time for the West? What was that experience like?
 

Matchu

Senior Member
I dunno, I think I'd be doing the olds a disservice with some sweeping & trite generalisation about popular racism, or 'racialism' as they used to say. I believe people back then were able to distinguish between bogeymen - 'the Jap' 'the Nazi', and a greater comprehension about compassion for all humankind/with reflections upon warfare/& tribalism.

Even so a popular anecdote would involve some Reginald Percy not shaking the Bank of Tokyo's hand due to beheadings in '44 incident.

For me...even a single reference to the First World War, Mesopotamia, and greased Arabs rushing into camp with blades in their teeth...passed down family lines...you hear these kind of stories once, aged 6, & they stay with you...

Shogun on TV was a big cultural pop moment. You'd contrast, in the essay, with Tenko a decade later.

..

I'm not sure about those points you make. We maybe write differently?
'Finding her voice'...meh
'has not brought her Japanese heritage into it or the prejudice she’s experienced into her writing yet.' Whyever not?

Also...there's some elegant lit. already written about internment - made into a film? Blend that perspective with a touch of George Mcdonald Fraser's autobiographical 'Last Man Out of Here,' or similar. Very '1945' male.
 
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Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
The racist side of things didn't really figure in my experience, but looking back I can see it was there. My parents were always having foreigners to stay, that was seen as a bit weird. I can remember them talking about not eating garlic during the week during term time, it smelt too much. My first experience of a black man was a friend of my parents from university, he was a doctor, a GP in Sheffield. When I was still pretty young dad's school couldn't find anyone in Edmonton willing to put up their first German assistant so he came and stayed with us. He was a lovely guy, had been called up at fourteen into the luftwaffe and captured on an anti-aircraft gun during the battle of the bulge by the Americans. He was in a 'baby camp' in Belgium where he got some education, then went on to university and teacher training after the war. He was in touch with my parents 'till their death. My first wife was Japanese. So you see race and nationalism have never played a part in my life, although they did in many.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
You’re veering toward parody with the ‘conchy perspectives.’ It’s a given that you’re an enlightened man. What about writing, & our society of the past, and using the power of historical perception, whatever, to drag authentic voices from the grave?

I admire their grit and their straight-talking. Not the Meghanospeak of ‘each individual shall reach for themselves if they only seek their own pockets.’

[hic]

(back to work tomorrow, this will end x)
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
I dunno, I think I'd be doing the olds a disservice with some sweeping & trite generalisation about popular racism, or 'racialism' as they used to say. I believe people back then were able to distinguish between bogeymen - 'the Jap' 'the Nazi', and a greater comprehension about compassion for all humankind/with reflections upon warfare/& tribalism.

Even so a popular anecdote would involve some Reginald Percy not shaking the Bank of Tokyo's hand due to beheadings in '44 incident.

For me...even a single reference to the First World War, Mesopotamia, and greased Arabs rushing into camp with blades in their teeth...passed down family lines...you hear these kind of stories once, aged 6, & they stay with you...

Shogun on TV was a big cultural pop moment. You'd contrast, in the essay, with Tenko a decade later.

..

I'm not sure about those points you make. We maybe write differently?
'Finding her voice'...meh
'has not brought her Japanese heritage into it or the prejudice she’s experienced into her writing yet.' Whyever not?

Also...there's some elegant lit. already written about internment - made into a film? Blend that perspective with a touch of George Mcdonald Fraser's autobiographical 'Last Man Out of Here,' or similar. Very '1945' male.

Snow Falling On Cedars might be the book + movie you’re talking about. I have a copy.
My story is about this girl finding her voice and starting to talk about the prejudice against her. The first documentary about Japanese internment camps came out right around that same time. For me, I think we still don’t talk enough about any of this. I don’t even remember anything about it being in my high school history books. That was a while back too, though. It’s about finding mentors (an educated African American woman and a man who lost his family in a Nazi concentration camp) who think her story is an American story and an important one. I don’t know what you think of that, but it’s inspiring to me. There’s a process most people go through who are bi-cultural where they swing back and forth in between the two cultures landing at a place where they feel they embody both. This is what she will be going through.

all of these things you guys are mentioning will be good things to look up.
 
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