In the course of the ancestry research, I’ve been learning the history of the area and how people lived in the 1800s. Life was different. Aside from the obvious lack of electricity, running water and transportation, there was no Starbucks. Or local pub (not in the farming areas). And so much more.
There are a few things that must have them shaking their heads in disbelief about their crazy descendants (that would be me!). Here are some that come to mind.
Paying to exercise! – In the 1800s there was no mechanical transportation in the area where my ancestors lived. It was very rural. No horses either. Only wealthy landowners had horses (and sadly I found none of those in my line). Everything was shoe leather express. The work they did was all physical. After a hard day farming, working the vineyards or cleaning houses, they didn’t need to go to the gym. I can imagine my great-great grandma saying, “What? You’re paying to exercise? I have chores for you!”
Obsession on foods – They ate what was available and in season. They ate lots of eggs, dairy, vegetables and never worried about fatty meats. Their lifestyle took care of all that. Worked it off easy peasy. Great-great grandma would say “Don’t pay extra for low-fat. You pay for the fat, you take it home!” and “Throw in some bacon fat to make it taste better!” and “What? Extra for organic? Everything is organic!”
Clothes – The women back then wanted to look pretty and worked as best they could but it was limited. No malls. No internet shopping. No stores at all. Most made their own clothes. “Fancy” clothes were bought from a tailor or dressmaker but rarely worn. Great-great grandma would have been stunned to learn that there are specific clothes (very expensive) for exercise. She is still struggling with the fact that people pay to exercise. Great-great grandma would say “Yoga? What’s yoga? You mean the bending over I do all day? You need special clothes for that?”
A man I met at the research center told me that his grandfather got his grandmother her first “bought” dress after they paid off the mortgage. She was in her 50s and it was her first one that she didn’t make herself. Different times. With my vanity I would have exasperated great-great grandma. Then again, I inherited it from someone! I bet she pinched her cheeks for color.
There are a lot of things they would have loved – cars, mechanical equipment to make the work easier, electricity, running water and antibiotics!
Even without all that, many of my ancestors lived to ripe old ages. Maybe it was less pollution, healthy diets and more active lifestyles.
There were some that did not, like my great-grandmother who died one month after the birth of my grandfather. I bet many thought they had a great life just like we do.
In 200 years (providing the species survives) people will look at our lifestyle and feel sorry for all the inconveniences we had to go through. We will laugh at them from our graves!