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Ten Things of Thankful: Even on Friday the 13th, During a Pandemic

Photo: Empty shelves in Walmart
Are things as crazy in your area as they are in mine? "A run on stores and tempers flaring is not the Utah way," said Governor Herbert today during a press conference. While I have not witnessed mad shoppers, I have definitely seen empty shelves in stores. 

What to do when large gatherings, including church, are canceled, and all the news seems to be bad? Well, one suggestion is to take a deep breath and count to ten: Ten Things of Thankful, that is! Even in such crazy times, there are reasons to be thankful. Here are some I've noticed this past week:

  1. Safe, running water.
  2. Indoor plumbing.
  3. Convenient transportation.
  4. Laundry facilities.
  5. Quick access to news.
  6. Grocery stores (even when some shelves are bare.)
  7. Cell phones.
  8. The internet.
  9. Spring is coming, no matter what, as evidenced by budding flowers.
  10. John. Fortunately, we get along great, so self-isolating won't be hard if we need to do so.
A few days ago, I was looking through some old family history papers, and I found personal histories written by two of my great-grand aunts. They moved from Wisconsin to Oregon in July of 1911, to meet their dad and brother who had already gone out west. They took the train, and it took them 3 days to travel that distance. When they arrived in Oregon, they then traveled by horse from the train station to the homestead. 

Of course, illness struck back in those days, too, and reading the account my great-grand aunt, Golda Telfer, wrote about one such time, made me really appreciate how much easier we have it now:

When sickness came the neighbors helped, did what they could to help out. A family of four inherited a ranch joining the one where we lived. Soon after they moved in the mother & two children came down with the measles. The house was small, one room downstairs & one upstairs. The mother Edith to the little girl Thelma were both real dark. Part Indian I think. Charley & the boy Ralph were both very fair. All the other neighbors had families of their own & of course didn't want to expose the children. So I decided it was up to us to take care of them. Orrin was terribly busy with home work, but he did what he could. At the time I was having lots of trouble with my back but thought I could help out some anyhow. When I arrived things were really in a mess. Edith & Thelma were in one bed upstairs, & Ralph & Charley in the other one. Charley had hurt his back some way trying to care for his family & could scarcely move. The beds were on the floor on springs & mattresses so it was really hard to do anything for anyone. Edith was so very sick, for some reason she didn't break out like the others did. The Dr. had been sent for but 55 miles with a team & buggy is a long ways. I tried to get things in some kind of order, but it seemed the more I tried the worse things got. I was trying to do some washing along with everything else. To wash sheets on a washboard by hand then boil them, rinse them twice & hang them out especially when you carry all the water in a bucket from a well That with taking care of four sick people was almost more than I could do. When the Dr. got there he said because Edith was so dark was the reason she didn't break out, & that I would have to pack her in hot sand bags to make her break out so I had to make the bags & see that they got filled. Two at the shoulders 2 at the thighs, two at the ankles & one at the feet. Heat them & keep them hot, reheat them as they cooled off. And all the time things were getting in a worse mess. That night several men were there, they were trying to get the outside chores caught up. So I got supper. I don't know what we had only that I opened some canned peas. When they started to eat I took some milk toast up to the sick folks. When I came own the men had all eaten. The food was all gone excepting on each plate was a helping of canned peas left. In those days you weren't sure of canned foods like you are now. So I had visions of them all having Ptomain poisoning which didn't help me one bit. Then Bessie Allison came to help. She was a puny thing, weight about 85 pounds, but she was game. We didn't make one good person. Later some one brought a practical nurse over from Sumpter. She was a large woman healthy & strong. She took over & Bessie & I went home we were both about all in. The next day I went over to see how every one was. The house was in order, the washing was on the line, the patients were all cleaned up, the bed were made up fresh. Edith was all broken out every one felt better & Charley was able to be [word missing off page] and so far as I know, no one ever had Ptomain poison.   

I get tired just reading her account! COVID-19 might be inconvenient at best, but at least I don't have to draw my water from a well in order to wash my sheets on a washboard, sew sandbags for medical treatments, nor fear ptomaine poisoning. That was life only a little over 100 years ago. Those might have been called "simpler times," but I think I could argue pretty effectively that these days are much simpler, at least as far as day-to-day chores go. 

And, just like that, all of a sudden the fear of the news of the day is put into perspective. That's the power of family history and the Ten Things of Thankful. Won't you join our community? Let us know how you are doing, and what you are thankful for this week. And if you have a family history story to share, I'd love to hear it, too!

Joining me this week:
I Live, I Love, I Craft, I am Me
The Prolific Pulse
A Season and a Time
MessyMimi's Meanderings
Carin's Gratitude
the Wakefield Doctrine
Backsies Is What There Is Not

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  1. Wow - it does really show how times have changed, in your account everyone pulled together, got on with it and despite the risks of being potentially infected, just worked. Now, the panic, the media hype and the politicians with their 'advice' are enough to make anyone run scared!

    1. Her account of the laundry process made me really appreciate how easy I have it!

  2. It sure makes a difference to have modern technology. The medical common sense is priceless, though. Enjoyed your TTOT!

    1. Oh, I am so happy I can just throw clothes in the washer, push a button, and forget about the laundry! I just can't even imagine drawing water from a well, boiling the water, scrubbing on a washboard, rinsing (twice!) and then lugging the heavy sheets and blankets up on a line--and then hoping it doesn't rain!--all while trying to care for ill people in the days before antibiotics. Whew!

  3. I'm with you, Kristi, I think we live in a much simpler time physically. I do appreciate that in former days there were not so many distractions of media and such. But I'll take all the modern conveniences thank you. I routinely express gratitude in my prayers for the miracles of modern life--hot and cold running water, central heat, electric lights, technology at our fingertips, and so forth. Thanks for the reminders of our great blessings.

    1. Yes, we can be bombarded with information now, and it is good to step away every so often so it doesn't become overwhelming. But what a blessing modern conveniences are!

  4. I am glad you were able to share some of her story and help put things in perspective. I think I am going to search the census records and see if I can find out the last name of that family she was helping.

    1. I found them on the 1920 census--they are the Garner family. I tried reaching out to a relative of theirs I found via, but haven't heard back yet.

  5. How glad i am for "modern inconveniences," at least, the vast majority of the time.

    1. Not that life today isn't without trouble, but I am thankful to be living now instead of 100 years ago.

  6. Yow.

    Excellent view into another time and another place. Yet, despite the differences, the instincts to help a fellow human shows through.
    Fear is the only enemy. Everything else is faith and perseverance.
    ya know?

    1. Exactly. FDR had that right. I'm not fearful for myself, but am a bit concerned for loved ones who fall into risk categories.


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