No. 478



Here is a question I would like to invite you to ponder with me for a few minutes today. Do you like to hear or read good human-interest stories? Well, I sure do, and I've finally figured out why. The main reason is because I am a human. To be sure, I love stories about animals and other creatures, but not nearly as much as I do about other people. I especially like those stories that contain a moral or a principle that can teach me something. As a part of my core values, I love people and I love to learn new things, and to me that's a combination that is hard to beat. As my friend, Dr. Charles Jarvis from San Marcos, Texas, often says, "If you don't love folks, you are in sad shape."

A few weeks ago I got a long handwritten letter from Jenny Frantz, a reader who lives in Waynesboro, Pa. Her letter contained a great human-interest story that I felt would be of interest and value to you. I say this for two reasons. First, her letter for the most part was about a lady whose name was Molly, a maiden aunt, who lived with their family back in the 1920's. Now this was a long time ago, but one of the things we all need to have, regardless of our age, is a link to our past. If we don't know where we have been, then we have no frame of reference for where we are now, or where we are going in the future.

The other idea that I got from Jenny's letter that I thought was very interesting is the contrast in people's lives who live in the North, especially so in the winter when it's much colder, than for those of us who live in the South or in the Southwestern part of our country where the climate is much warmer. Have you ever thought about how much difference the temperature can impact our lifestyle? Just think about the winter time, when people up in Minnesota are ice fishing while people who live in Florida and South Texas are lying on the beach getting a tan. Also when you go back in time, you can realize that people who lived in the 1920's had virtually none of the modern conveniences that we take for granted today.

In her letter, what Jenny said she was doing was adding a little folklore to one of my earlier columns titled, "A Great Wash Room Reminder." Keep in mind, this was in the North in the winter time, and back then people had no washing machines or clothes dryers. She even gave her comments a title, "Washday In The Winter." Now if you have the picture, let me share with you what she said, which to me is a great human-interest story. She begins: "My maiden Aunt Molly lived with my family. She also said, ÎRinch the clothes.1 When it was raining or snowing, my mother and Aunt Molly would carry baskets of clothes up two flights of stairs to the attic to hang them up to dry. You have to understand, when washing by hand they were very heavy with water and took days to dry.

"On Tuesdays, this was ironing day. This was also an all-day job, as the material in the clothes was so stiff the clothes had to be dampened, rolled up and sit for a while until they could be ironed. You did not plug in an iron. We had several flat irons, very heavy. It was the weight and heat and a strong-arm that pressed the clothes, no electricity for an electric iron, which we have today. Another use for the flatiron was wrapping one in newspaper when it was very hot and placing it in the bed at a spot that was just right for your feet. On a really cold night, with no heat in the bedrooms, my Aunt Molly would do this for two sisters, my brother and me. This was wonderful and the iron stayed warm for a long time. What a simple, kind and generous thing to do and it sure made me happy.

"We didn't have luxuries when we were growing up, but I still remember the simple pleasures. Even though I love my nice warm bedroom, I remember like it was yesterday, beautiful windows in the morning with the sun coming in, highlighting the frosted designs of ferns. It was true art, and often when we had real cold winters, the windows stayed frosted over all winter. With all the years of prosperity, the simple things in life mean the most to me. Again, thank you for taking me back to my younger years. I am going to have these instructions copied for my daughter to hang in their washroom, excuse me, their laundry room. With Thanks, Jenny Frantz. PS. Keep writing. I like your wisdom. I am going to have copies made of your personal philosophy for all six of my grandchildren."

After reading this letter several times, I came to the conclusion that Aunt Molly was quite a gal. I hope Jenny's comments have taken you back to an earlier time in your life, and you have also been reminded of how blessed we are in this nation, from a drudgery standpoint, than we have ever had it before. In many parts of the world today, many people still live as they did in America, only a few short decades ago.

(Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)