Those of us who write historical fiction are always striving to make sure our characters are part of the period in which our novels are set. A farmer in 19th Century Kansas, for example, had to know how to hunt and fish, how to forage and how to butcher livestock, pluck chickens, and shoe a horse, etc.
There were no supermarkets, no computers or online shopping, no clothing stores or malls. Yes, there were Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs where women could order ready-made dresses and men could order pants and shirts, but ordering from them was considered an infrequent luxury.
I recently received an e-mail from Ancestry.com, the online genealogy service that asked:
“How old school are you? Do you think you’ve got what it takes to live in your great-grandparents’ era?”
I was intrigued by this question, having just completed the second book in a trilogy of novels, the first of which is set in the late 19th Century American West. As someone who spent time on a farm, who hunted and fished and cleaned hundreds of chickens, rabbits, and squirrels, I figured I would be OK if I were suddenly transported to my great-grandparents’ time.
But there was more to living back then than hunting and fishing. Life was much, much harder, and so were the people.
Take a look at what Ancestry.com had to say:
Our parents and grandparents may shake their heads every time we grab our smart phones to get turn-by-turn directions or calculate the tip. But when it comes to life skills, our great-grandparents have us all beat. Here are some skills our great-grandparents had 90 years ago that most of us don’t.
While your parents and grandparents didn’t have the option to