Friday, 26 August 2016

Living without Mod Cons Part 3

We lived in the house on Prescott Street for a number of years and gradually got used to the rules of living in the house; for every house has its own rules. Certain things have to be done before others, the oven cooks slow or fast and the altitude at which the house sits makes a difference in the way that bread and cakes rise. 

One rule at Prescott Street was that the kitchen stove had to be on for hours to make enough hot water to fill the bathtub. That was no problem in the winter when it took many hours to cook a roast and the heat from the stove helped to warm the house. It was a challenge in the summer when the heat from the kitchen stove was unwelcome. 

There was one summer when we had plenty of hot water to go around. That was the summer that we held our wedding reception at our house at the end of August. We roasted all the turkey and beef ourselves and froze it store it until the big day. Yes, we had a fridge with a freezer in it. Preparation for the reception took a lot of planning but it was a boon to be able to have hot water practically on demand! But having lived through that experience makes me wonder how my grandmothers and the women who came before them coped with living without modern conveniences. 

This model stove looks similar to the kitchen stove on Prescott Street
Thanks Julie!

Monday, 22 August 2016

Living without Mod Cons part 2

It wasn’t until I was reminiscing about living on Prescott Street in Halifax, our old charmer of a co-op house, that I realized that I had more than an academic knowledge about living without modern conveniences. Sure we had running water and electricity which was a plus but the house lacked the washer and dryer which were common household equipment at the time that we moved in. Not that we had enough hot water to run a washing machine, there was no separate hot water heater and no central heating. 

I remember the quick dash down the stairs on a winter morning to turn up the oil stove in the living room, a little nippy! Yes, we had electricity but didn’t trust it enough for an electric heater upstairs. We learned the rules of living with the conveniences we had – things just took longer to cook on an oil stove. There was hot water, but only if the kitchen stove was on for a long time because that’s what heated the water in the bathroom tank. 

After I considering that the kitchen stove would be used sparingly in the summer so there would be very little hot water, one of my first purchases was an electric kettle so I would have hot water to wash my hair in the summer. Unlike those TV programs, I wasn’t going for authenticity. I wanted convenience. And really, I think it was probably that way for the time periods portrayed in those programs as well. Once there was new technology to make their lives easier, people introduced it a bit at a time. 
The Prescott Street living room oil stove