Saturday, August 26, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Your Ancestors, You and Technology

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musing has a new assignment for us.

Your mission this week, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  Julie Goucher, on her Anglers Rest blog, has a long-running weekly blog theme called The Book Of Me.  One of her weekly prompts is about Technology.  We'll use that this week!

2)  For this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - please address these issues:
  • What technology changes did your ancestors see?
  • What technology changes have you seen?
  • Did your family own one of those early changes? - such as television
  • Do you like or dislike technology?
  • What do you think has been the best technological change in your lifetime and historically?

3)  Answer the questions, and share your work on your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or on Facebook or Google+.

I have written several of Julie Goucher’s The Book of Me prompts, but had skipped this one. The meme seemed a bit overwhelming to me. So today I’ll focus on just my grandmother and myself.

My grandmother
My grandmother, Pansy Louise Lancaster, was born in 1913. She lived 99+ years and experienced a wide change in technology.

When she was born, on a farm in the rural part of Erath County, Texas, there was no electricity. Cooking was done on a wood stove. Oil lamps were used to light the house. The floors were swept with brooms. The ironing was done with cast irons that needed to be heated on the stove. Outside, horses drove the plows in the fields and  the wagons into town.

When they moved into town in the 1920s, they probably lived in houses with electricity. That didn’t mean they had all the modern appliances. Refrigerators were just iceboxes that were kept cool with ice. It was possible they owned a motor vehicle. Her dad was a mechanic and knew how to fix them. People came from all over to his house in his off hours so he could fix their cars and trucks.

My grandmother learned to sew as a young girl and her first sewing machine was a foot-operated treadmill. She sewed, mended, and altered clothes for a living, so might have purchased a used electric machine when she could. I remember her having a black Singer machine when I was young. I have only one photo taken indoors and the treadle machine can be seen in it.
Look carefully at the machine at the
right side of the photo
My grandparents had a television and was one of many who watched “I Love Lucy” each week. Soap operas were also a favorite of my grandmother.

I wish I knew whether they had a gramophone or later, a record player. I do know my grandmother loved Country & Western music and had an 8-track player in the 1970s. She might have advanced to cassettes when 8-track went out of fashion, but I doubt she ever owned CDs.

My brother bought her a computer and tried to teach her to use it, but it was a bit too much for her. She was in her late 80s or early 90s at this time.

Over time she had several small appliances in the kitchen: toaster, toaster oven, microwave, mixer, and blender. She was a great baker and every Christmas time she made many batches of cookies to hand out to family of friends. We’d get a plate with at least a dozen different kinds of cookies. It was a great treat when we each became adults and received our own plates of cookies.

Now, I have been around technology all my life. My parents had a television after they got married. Maybe it was a gift, but here’s a photo of me standing in front of it. We had a stereo where we could play LPs and music from the radio. We were, however, slow in getting a color television. I was in the eighth grade before I knew there was a color part to The Wizard of Oz.
Christmas 1955--Check out the television in the corner
I was the first in the family to get a computer. It was 1981 and we built it from scratch. It had two eight-inch disk drives and ran on CPM operating system. The daisy wheel printer cost $2500, but it was important to me to the printout resemble typewritten text. 

I have had computers ever since, but I’m not the type to get the newest gadget as soon as they come out. I’m more practical. I keep things until they are no long functional. The computer I’m using now is over six years old. I also still use my XP computer on occasion because it has software that only works on it. I was so late to get a smart phone and MP3 player. I have no GPS device in my car. I certainly can’t find a need for an electronic butler for the house.

I like technology when it can help me but I don’t want it to rule my life.

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family


  1. I'm impressed that your first computer was built from scratch! Like you, I enjoy techology, but I am not the first to run out and buy something new and I agree totally with you. I don't want technology to rule my life either.

    1. I can't take complete credit for the first computer. My model railroading buddy was building one, too. Luckily, he put the motherboard together for us! I didn't want to do all that soldering.

  2. What a fun post, Lisa. I loved reading about your grandmother's experiences and life. I wish I knew enough about my grandmother's early years to be so detailed. (But then, my father was born the same year as your grandmother and I could probably go in to more detail about his early years.)

    I'm like you in not wanting technology to take over my life. I suppose my husband thinks the computer already has, as much time as I spend researching and writing. But I still use a flip phone (dinosaur!) and don't have a GPS, but I do have a tablet (that I rarely use).

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Nancy. I only just graduated to a smart phone a few months ago when I lost my flip phone on a plane. Can you believe it, no one turned it in!


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