I know What That Is!

Ann Swanson

Last week I was a resident at Chautauqua Institution for the week. One of the speakers spoke about focusing attention on the ordinary things of life. Recently I have received posts on Facebook showing many old-fashioned items asking “Who used one of these? What is it?”

Thankfully, I have been able to identify many of the items. Yes, I used many of them, too.

The last picture I saw was of some plastic bowls – the kind that promises satisfaction or a guarantee of replacement. I had a set complete with the lids that sealed them. They were our cereal bowls as well as our ice cream bowls.

Another thing I saw was a picture of an old-fashioned toaster – definitely not the pop-up kind. You put your slice of bread on the outer grid and closed it. After it toasted you flipped the bread over to toast the other side. My grandmother had one of those. I used to take it to the fair so I could leave my regular toaster at home for my husband who was home milking cows.

Then, there are telephones. The first telephone I remember having was a lightweight model that set on the table. At that time, we had several parties on our line. When I moved to the country, I got a model that hung on the wall. My ring was one long. Someone else’s was two short rings. You had to listen before you went to answer it. Youngsters today cannot possibly associate with phones that tether you to the wall. Recently I saw a cartoon with a youngster on the floor talking with his ear glued to the receiver that fastened to the wall. The caption read, “To get this you have to be a certain age!”

I remember a phone in the fair office that had a rotary dial. Often people needed instructions on how to use it.

Electric cords used to be covered with cloth. I had many appliances with those kinds of cords. One year I replaced cloth covered cords on some little Christmas trees. I did not figure they were safe anymore.

Did your family ever have one of those drying racks? I had one that I used to dry my cloth diapers when we lived in the trailer. Cloth diapers, now that is a real stretch. No one uses them anymore. No matter how you feel about them, they were efficient. There was no garbage to get rid of.

My drying rack came to Hickory Heights when we moved up here. I had no dryer so I often used that rack when it was raining or when it was snowing.

My great aunt had one of those continuous towels that you dried your hands on. The top was loosened to install a new towel. They were difficult for the little ones to reach, but the rest of us made out just fine.

I also had a drying rack that you pulled out over the wood stove to dry towels. You could not just leave them though because they could cause a fire. Nearly every home back then had one of those racks.

Yes, I had a woodstove. I had never cooked on one before but I learned. I even canned some jelly using it. I also made birthday cupcakes. I was not sure I could keep the oven up to temperature as long as it took to make a cake so the year, we moved here my children had cupcakes for their birthday.

If you have utensils with red and cream wooden handles, they are old. Several of those have survived from my childhood.

Does anyone ever iron anymore? I think those wooden ironing boards are a thing of the past. They have become a decoration in some homes holding plants and other decors. If anyone irons, I think they use those little ironing boards that store away easily.

I have a couple of those old irons that you heated on top of your wood stove. I use them as a doorstop! I never used them to really iron anything but I do remember sprinkling clothes with a little stopper that fit into a pop bottle. After the clothes were sprinkled, they were put into the refrigerator so as not to get mildewed.

Grandma had a mangle. You used it to iron large flat items such as sheets, pillowcases, and tablecloths. I loved to run the mangle.

Canning jars are another old-fashioned thing that has survived. You can still buy new ones so someone out there is still canning. My canning jars are old. Some came from my great-grandmother and some from a great-aunt. Who knows how many items they have held? One of my favorite things to can were pickles. I love the flavor of homemade pickles.

My children had toys that by today’s standard qualify as antiques. They are over fifty years old. We had Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs. We had Dominoes and Monopoly. We had some toys that just would not break. My husband tried because he did not like the noise they made when he was busy working. I have seen pictures on Facebook of some of these toys.

My game cupboard is filled with these treasures. I played them as a kid, my children played them, my grandchildren played them. They are well used but still serviceable.

I have just scratched the surface of things from the past. I am sure you can add to this list and have a lot of fun doing it!

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.


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