At Grandmother’s House


Post by community member:


Just about every family around here has had a touch of the flu. Speaking of germs, when we were kids visiting at Grandma’s farm, there was a big tin bucket with a dipper in the kitchen. She did not have running water so she would go out to the outside pump and get every bit of the water that she used. All of us drank from that dipper whenever we got thirsty and never thought a thing about it. I don’t think the Board of Health would approve.

Grandma had two giant tea kettles that she filled with water and heated on the stove for hot water to wash her dishes. We went there almost every Sunday and it seemed that the dirty dishes were as tall as a mountain after the dinner. She had big dish pans to wash the dishes in and then the dishes were upended in another big pan that she poured hot water over to “scald” them before we could put on our flour sack aprons and dry the dishes.

Going to Grandma’s house involved a lot of pre-planning because she didn’t have a telephone. If we were going to visit, by Monday we had to send a postcard to her letting her know that we planned to come next Sunday. She would get the card in the mail on Friday and then go out to the chicken coop, pick a chicken and start the process of killing and plucking it for our chicken and noodles dinner. In the summer, she went to the garden and picked lettuce for wilted lettuce, green beans, cucumbers and tomatoes for slicing. Even in winter the bounty of canned green beans, corn, homemade pickles and mashed potatoes swimming in homemade butter filled the table.


About July, she would pull on an old pair of Grandpa’s bib overalls and tie rags with kerosene on them around her ankles to keep the chiggers away–it was blackberry picking time and she had a mission. The backroom at her house was like Aladdin’s cave-filled with row after row of canned blackberries, peaches, pears, cherries and apples. There were always plenty of fixings for pies and cobblers with her flaky, thick crusts. She knew blackberry cobbler was my favorite so it was always on the Sunday table. I wish I had a piece of that cobbler!


I loved staying there for two weeks every summer and seeing all the farm animals and the day to day life of living on a farm.

Looking back, I realize that it was a lot of hard work and sacrifice because there were very few modern conveniences that we have today–no indoor plumbing, no central heat just a pile of coal at the bottom of the hill to be carried in bucket by bucket all winter.


How did one little widow woman accomplish all the things she did?

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  1. Robin from Rurification says:

    Thanks for your great story! It reminds me of my great grandmother. She killed and plucked and fried a chicken every Sunday for 40 years or so. Which makes her somewhat of a hero in my eyes.

    When things get ‘difficult’ here, I remind myself how lucky we are to have electricity, hot running water and indoor plumbing.

  2. Glenda says:

    This one brought back memories of going to visit Grandma. Much was the same except she heated with wood and cooked on a kerosene range and her canned goods was kept in a cellar.

    She drew water from a cistern with a bucket on a rope. We all used a common dipper too! My kids would die of thirst before they would drink after anyone else! I think back then we developed resistance to those germs because we were exposed to them so much. Today everything is so sanitized that people get sick if they are exposed to different germs…

    Grandma killed her chickens and dressed them for her Sunday dinners too only hers was fried chicken. Same cleaning process. In summers we would always have strawberry shortcake from her patch of berries….served over pie crusts. Delicious food and delicious memories.

    Thank you.

  3. Cathy J says:

    I loved this post and the comments above me. Beautiful tribute to those strong women. My husband’s grandma kept a tin cup above the sink as you came in the door. Same thing- common cup and no one thought twice. I admire those kind of women and aspire to be as much like them as I can.

  4. marymac says:

    That is a beautiful memory .

  5. Bev in CA says:

    Thank you grouchymama for sharing. Beautiful pics, too. My Nana had chickens and we always had fried chicken. It was Sunday dinner, after church. Preserving was a way of life or you didn’t eat. When I think of all she did and with none of the things that we have and take for granted today it is a marvel.

  6. mesue says:

    These stories are inspiring to me. I think though that these women worked that hard because they did not know anything different. This was a normal life for them. I think trying to like our grandparents or great grandparents did would be more of a hardship for us today because of all the advancements we now live with. I think stories like this are good for us to read and reflect on when our modern lives start to overwhelm us.

  7. Euni Moore says:

    Beautiful post grouchymama. It brought back many memories of my own grandmother. She didn’t have life quite so rough when I came along; they had sold the homestead and moved to town by then. But she also had chickens and a HUGE garden with all the goodies you mentioned. This time of year brings back those good old memories.

  8. manishie says:

    You made me tear up for I wish I had a granma like this in my life. How I would have loved to see everything in that back room, filled with jars. Fixing food for family, what a lovely memory for you!

  9. Kathi N says:

    I agree. Thank you.

    I also laughed when I read your “widow woman” comment. I can totally hear my Grandma saying those words. (Though usually it came out as widdah woman)

  10. JerseyMom says:

    I have so many great memories of working with my grandmas when I was a kid….peeling, shucking, pitting…whatever was required to “put up” the veggies and fruits that were the bounty of summer. We had indoor plumbing all around but had relatives that didn’t so sometimes the situation would present itself that we had to use what was available. I am in awe of the physical work my greats did….and I too can hear the ‘widow woman’ words in my head. They were the women we had to help. Sounds like all of them didn’t have to have so much help!

  11. CindyP says:

    Wonderful post, thanks for sharing 🙂

    Going to my grandparent’s house was like going back in time…many things had never been changed even when they became available. They passed in 1982 and they still didn’t have an indoor bathroom…the outhouse and peepot at night. I always wished I had to go the bathroom at night just so I could use that peepot! LOL! The wishes of a small child. They had running water in the kitchen, but the tin cup was at the sink to be used by everyone and the water couldn’t be run to get a really cold cup of water…”there wasn’t cold water when we had the bucket!”

  12. debd says:

    Love this story. Reminds me of my grandmother!

  13. Jeannie Brazell says:

    Thanks for the post, beautiful memories are all I have of my grandma and mama.

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