a letter to David

When my son was 1 year old, in 2000, I embarked on a plan to collect recollections of the 20th century from his closest relatives. The result is a small, spiral-bound book titled Letters to David that includes touching stories, memories of specific events, lists of personal bests, and (wonderfully) a list of “Top 5 Toys of the 20th Century” by his then-6-year-old cousin (1. Guns 2. Swords 3. Sticks (imaginary weapons) 4. Electronic Race Cars 5. Cowboy Paraphernalia. Yes, he said ‘paraphernalia.’).

This year I decided to do something for my daughter, and so I’m taking a photo of her every day for a year, and in the end I’ll send my materials off to Blurb and have a very nice bound book in return. Comparing the two products, I thought I might want to rebind David’s book at the same time, so, consequently, I’m retyping all the memories. Below is the text of a conversation with my grandmother and her two sisters, who all lived together. I taped the conversation. It was short … they always had trouble warming up to “technology.” Still, it was pretty interesting, thinking about what was new tech to a child 100 years ago. Interesting enough perhaps to share on a Saturday.

“From a taped confersation with:
Your great-grandmother, “Ma”: Mary Louisa Evins Crawford (7/17/1910)
Your great-great aunt “Tut”: Novice Evins (1/3/1903)
Your great-great aunt “Enie”: Alline Evins (3/1/1905)

Note from your Mom: I asked your Great-Grandmother and her sisters what would be the biggest difference between their childhoods and yours.

Ma: He will know all of the new inventions that I didn’t know anything about. Like electric lights. We lived in a rural area and we didn’t have electric lights. We had oil lamps. The first car that I ever remember seeing was about 1915. I guess I was about 5 years old. There were cars and electric lights, but we didn’t have those. He will have those.

Tut: The car Mary was talking about, it was an old T-Model. We rode in it. We’d go to church at Coldwater in it. The man who owned it lived down the road near Asbury [Cemetery, in Calloway County, Ky.]. When he would drive it up the hill that you get to before Asbury, he would turn around and back it up the hill. It didn’t have power enough to go forward.

Ma: And when we’d go up a hill in ours [later, their car], we’d some of us have to get out and walk. It didn’t have power enough.

Tut: And it had a hand-crank.

Enie: It was hard to crank!

Tut: And we didn’t have a washing machine; we had to do them [the clothes] all on a washboard. I remember one time we had our tubs on the back porch when we lived out on the hill. Me and Alline were washing, and we had some chairs and were sitting down. We were rinsing the clothes then – you know, we would drag them on the board and then we would rinse them in the tub, in different tubs. We were sitting there on the back porch and we heard the mail carrier coming. We jumped up and ran so he wouldn’t catch us washing clothes.

Enie: We got our first washing machine in about 1925, when we moved to Mayfield.

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