That’s not the way we used to do it!

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by Bob Porteous

Remember when we used to have to go outside to go to the toilet? Maybe some of you who were raised in cities or towns never had to do that, but myself, being raised on a farm a “few” years ago, I sure did, and so did many of our neighbors. Many of us didn’t have electricity either.

Anyway, I can remember that old “two-holer”, where the bumble bees and yellow jackets buzzed around you while you were trying to get out of there just as quickly as you could finish the paperwork. (Why did they have two-holers anyway? Did you have someone go to the bathroom with you?) Or maybe it was wintertime, and the temperature was lower than your pants, and certain parts of your body stuck to certain parts of the seat. Of course, if you could stand it, it was a good place to hide out, so you didn’t have to pump water to cool the milk. It sure made your sisters mad when you hid out. They had to go do the pumping. I’m glad we don’t do things like that anymore (pumping water that is, making your sisters mad is another story).

Those were good times though. When neighbors helped neighbors. One of our neighbors had a threshing machine and travelled around the community threshing the grain or filling the silo. His grain or corn, of course, got done first, and then the other farms in order. Not sure how the order was determined, but we were usually the last. My dad was a very quiet, soft spoken man, so I suspect he did not push to be a priority.

All the neighbors on the threshing list helped one another with the threshing. The men would bring their horses, wagons, pitchforks, and maybe even some of their older boys, to help with the gathering, loading, and transporting to the barn, filling the granary, and storing the straw.

I remember how everyone looked forward to dinner (today it’s called lunch), because the neighbourhood ladies had also gathered together to do the cooking. It was much like a potluck, except the food was all supplied by the family whose threshing was being done.

Everyone worked hard, and everyone was hungry when dinnertime finally arrived. There might be as many as twenty hungry men. Oh, how I remember those meals. The meat, the potatoes, the vegetables, the gravy and, in particular, the pies. Pies of all sorts, apple, cherry, strawberry, raspberry, even maple sugar pies.

The big meal was at dinnertime, but, even though it was “leftovers from dinner”, supper was an excellent feast as well. Still, even today, I love “left-over’s”. (Wonder what I’d have to pay for a meal like that today?)

We should never forget though, that it is through the efforts of our predecessors that we are where we are today. Reaping the rewards that parents and grandparents wanted us to have but, at the same time, I can understand when I hear an oldtimer say, “That’s not the way we used to do it”.

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