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The Fence Post
Skills Your Grandparents Had

Skills Your Grandparents Had

Life skills or lost traits? Areas that past generations have succeeded in where current generations fall short.

I saw a Facebook post on my news feed the other day that was called, "7 Skills Your Grandparents Had That You Don't." This got me thinking.

There are a few things that I do in my day-to-day life that I learned from my grandmothers when I was younger, and have kept with me (I omit my grandfathers because both had passed away before I was born). There are even more things that I have picked up along the way from numerous family friends, my parents and even strangers of the like.

I have compiled my own list of skills or let's call them 'lost traits' that I have noticed are being utilized less frequent as we rely on the ever changing world of technology and fast moving lifestyle.

I hear so many stories of going to dances or local towns always having a dance on the weekend.

Corresponding by mail (and hand writing pretty much just about everything)
In the past month, I have received two handwritten letters. One was a thank you card and the other was a note just saying hello, both from older generations. The last time I received a handwritten note from the current generation or younger was?…Oh man, I have to think about this one.

Holding a conversation over the phone - while talking on it
This one is becoming a pet-peeve of mine. What happened to the common courtesy of picking up the phone and talking to a person? I once called a friend to say hello and see how she was doing. Her phone rang and she ignored it. (She later told me this over dinner) She told me when her phone rang, she didn't know what it was doing or why it was making that sound, she just doesn't use the 'call' feature on her phone anymore.

This next one goes hand-in-hand with the previous one:

Memorizing phone numbers and using a phonebook/land line
Time after time I wish I had a land line. But like payphones, the idea is becoming obsolete. What's a payphone you may ask? ( I shake my head). I have a handful of numbers still memorized because I do use them frequently. Mostly when I'm at home on the farm. You know, the important ones: The house, the neighbor, the café, the post office (that's just because they are so close in digits I often misdial - not because of the good coffee and donuts I get often), and the Co-op. There was this thing called a party line - ask anyone over the age of 70 about it.

Last time I went home I noticed the phone book was condensed into one book. Usually it was a book for every town/area. Now it fits all into ONE book. And it's a skinny book.

Reading a nicely folded paper map (and can fold it back up to look nice) or an atlas
I am pretty proud of this one. I tend to use my GPS a lot but when in doubt, I do have a few handy paper maps tucked away. I have finally, after a few years managed to figure out how to fold the maps back up. It wasn't a pretty learning experience. Last year I taught an 8 year-old how to read an Atlas. He looked at me kind of goofy.

Sewing and mending clothes
This one I will admit - I am horrible at. I know how to thread a sewing machine, I own a sewing machine but I cannot sew - unless it's a crafty thing. I'm all over that. I am just finished my 2nd quilt. But sew on a button or darn a sock? I have no clue. Maybe I should YouTube that. I am embarrassed to admit, I once taped a hem on my slacks before I had to go to a job interview. I got the job, but thank goodness sewing wasn't one of the qualifications.

Fixing/mending things around the house/auto maintenance
On the other side of the spectrum is fixing things around the house or even a little auto maintenance. This I am better at. This may also just be common sense to me. I have a set of tools, some basic power tools and will research anything I don't know how to do. If then I still can't do it, I will call for help. As far as auto maintenance, dad taught me at an early age to 'listen to your car' because it speaks to you. Funny as this sounds, it is true. I do know how to change a tire, change oil, change brake pads, and check fluids.

Mannerisms and Chivalry
This goes beyond just opening/holding the door or saying please and thank you. I take it a step further. Making some one smile or saying hello to a stranger. Asking someone how their day is and really caring to know the answer. It's also about how you present yourself in public and how one uses language. I know I was taught not to talk to strangers, but those are some of the best conversations I have.

This can tie into the previous item. I grew up with the notion that your word is your bond. If you say you are going to do something, follow through with it. Over the years, society's definition of discipline and respect has changed so much, it seems that all I have anymore is my faith. I still believe your word is your bond, so if I say I will make you a batch of cookies, you better be ready with the glass of milk.

Dating, courting and wooing your significant other
I had to look this one up to make sure. It is a lost art. Now days, everything happens so backwards we don’t' take time to enjoy the romance (another word that might need a dictionary). I'm a big fan of holding hands.

Can 'cut a rug' (and I'm not talking about replacing the living room carpet)
I hear so many stories of past generations going to dances or the local towns always having a dance on the weekend. I just heard a story in a recorded interview with my great-grandmother who said she used to walk to Brainard (Nebraska) from the farm to go dance. That was over 8 miles one-way to walk - that must have been one fun dance. It was second nature to know how to Waltz, Cha-Cha, Two-Step, and in my family, Polka.

Baking and cooking from scratch
This has become a favorite hobby of mine. I love trying to recreate the old traditional food. I'm not as good as my mom, but I think I hold my own. I have mastered kolaches, cherry pie and crust, cookies, apple crisp, and apple strudel to name a few.

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