How the Generations Differ

December 22, 2007 at 8:00 PM 4 comments

My grandmother recently told me that women today don’t realize how big of an impact modern day appliances have on our lives. She vividly remembers her mother hunched on her knees, leaning over the claw foot bathtub washing the bed linens and bath towels. Her mother crawled out of the third story window, (they lived on the third floor of an apartment building), and climbed over to the roof to hang the linens to dry. My grandmother said it would take hours for her mother to wash and hang all of the sheets and towels.

She went on to tell me about her own experiences as a wife and mother. How she boarded a bus early in the morning with her son, my uncle. She’d step off the bus and walk two blocks to drop him off with her mother-in-law, before walking back to the bus stop, and riding to work. From there she walked another three blocks to her office and then repeated the entire process in reverse each evening. When she arrived home she’d cook dinner for her family and straighten the house before heading to bed.

My grandmother seems surprised by the way today’s households spend their money. She can’t understand why people don’t use cloth diapers. “I did it and it worked just fine,” she tells me. And she can’t understand why women spend so much money on fast food rather than cooking dinner for their families. She seems shocked by the idea that anyone younger than seventy would spend money on a cleaning service or maid. She told me “older people can’t bend to clean under the sofa and table, but anyone physical capable of cleaning themselves certainly shouldn’t hire a maid”.

I’m happy my grandmother and I get to share these conversations together. They provide a glimpse into her life while reminding me just how blessed my life is.

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Using Last Year’s Gift Cards to Pay For This Year’s Gifts Christmas Edition of the Carnival of Personal Finance

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Green Panda  |  December 23, 2007 at 3:19 AM

    I appreciate you sharing your grandmother’s experiences. So many people do not take the time out to see what benefits they have nowadays and instead stress themselves over such trivial things.

  • 2. Donna  |  December 25, 2007 at 5:00 AM

    Hello, Frugal Girl:
    I used cloth diapers when my daughter was born 29 years ago. When she was 11 months old, I moved to Philadelphia and was so broke that I couldn’t afford quarters for the laundromat. For the next year and a half I did our laundry by hand, on a scrubboard. Not much fun. Doable, but not much fun.
    I just came back from my first laundromat trip since that time. Our apartment building’s lower level, including the laundry room, was flooded during a bad storm a couple of weeks ago. I was shocked to find that it costs $1.75 to do a load of wash! And here we were complaining when our building’s washing machines recently went up to $1.25 a load.
    I’m heading east to visit family tomorrow night, and plan to ask my grandmother about some of her recollections of housework.

  • 3. One Frugal Girl  |  December 25, 2007 at 5:34 AM

    Green Panda — I checked out your blog: Green Panda Treehouse. Very nice!

    Donna — I would love to hear what your grandmother shares about her life experiences. Feel free to leave another comment after you chat.

  • 4. Elizabeth  |  December 27, 2007 at 3:34 AM

    good story – thanks for sharing! it’s always great to hear others’ perspectives.

    my mom used cloth diapers for a while. I remember washing/drying them – and not with fondness. ­čÖé

    I think that as far as cleaning services, it depends on circumstances. I haven’t hired one yet, but consider it often. However, I am single and work full-time and if I were to do a cost/benefits analysis, a cleaning service would be well worth the cost.


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