Then this morning, as I was sorting through the junk in my own basement, I came across a sealed envelope. I opened it to discover a written interview of grandpa done by a student named Melanie Peterson for a history final. I don’t know any details about her, but imagine that it was one of the Allegheny College students who rent the home next door to grandpa. In any event, I thought it would be of interest to the family to read grandpa’s answers to her questions.
How was life easier when you were 16 than in the year 2002? harder?
When I was 16, in 1933, there were fewer things to get involved with. No computers, TV’s or special school activities. I would spend the evenings playing checkers or dominoes with my brother and sister, both younger than I.
How has Meadville (Pennsylvania) changed?
In 1959 when I and my family were moved by the Erie Lackawana Railroad from Windsor NY to Meadville, this was a railroad town with a depot downtown, and passenger trains in and out at least twice a day, and freight trains more often.
What was school like?
When I attended school (1924-1936), I was transported from home to school three miles away by covered wagon drawn by a team of mules. Being a small town school, classes were small and we had a lot of individual attention. We liked our teachers and class mates very well.
What did you do for fun?
Swimming and fishing in the Susquehanna River provided activity during warm weather. Winter weather we had fun sleigh riding and skiing on the local hills.
What sports did you play?
Baseball with neighbors and guest relatives. Sailing on the river with home made sail on a row boat. Hunting season on our 300 acre farm.
How did you spend your weekends?
Dad was home on Sunday so we enjoyed kite flying. Also relatives would often visit in summer time keeping us busy entertaining them.
How has clothing changed?
Most pronounced I would say would be bathing suits. Most evident in the girls’ scanty two piece type compared to full length one piece. For the men and boys, long johns or full length one piece underwear was needed because homes were not heated as easily as today.
Were people more physically fit?
No, because medical attention was not practiced as it is today. More home remedies were popular. I think we were stronger from farm work, and kept our weight down.
What were the movies like?
Wednesday matinee 4 pm for 10 cents, when allowed by our parents. We would walk from school down town to Dad’s feed store, and it gave us a ride home when Dad closed at 6 pm. Movies were the high light of our young life and very intertainingly done.
Was there a lot of family time? If so, how did you spend it?
In my case, being on a farm, there was always someone around me, either Mom, Dad, brother and sister, as well as grandparents across the road. With grandpa each morning and night I helped milk the cows and fed them. Then working with Mom, would turn the hand cranked milk separator machine, which removed the cream from the milk.