BEFORE ELECTRICITY – FARM LIFE IN THE 1930S (February 17/14)

Granny was born in the Wolfville hospital in early October, 1935.  She arrived at in a time when few rural areas had electricity, when horses and oxen did the heavy farm work and there were only a few automobiles and fewer radios and telephones.

Granny’s home on the family farm in White Rock was typical of most rural homesteads.  Electric wiring was years in the future when she was born, her house was heated with a wood furnace in the basement, a milk separator and an ice box stood in the kitchen – she remembers that when you cranked the separator “milk came out of one spout and cream out of the other.”  Butter was homemade. The staples of life, meat, vegetables and fruit were grown and raised on the farm or bartered from neighbours.

There was one appliance that could be considered a modern convenience when she arrived home.  Spearheaded by her grandfather who lived on the farm next door, her home was connected to a miniature telephone system.  As Granny recalls it, there were six or seven homes in the White Rock area connected by telephone.  The phones had been installed circa 1918 and were battery operated – you cranked the phone to make a call.

Granny’s uncle, who was born in 1911, published a book on White Rock as he remembers growing up there.  He said there were at least six homes were connected at first by telephone and they had cut and set up the poles themselves, strung the wire, installed the phones and were finally connected to the outside world.  The tiny system eventually hooked up to the Valley Telephone Company, which had started in Middleton in 1891 and expanded east to Kentville, Wolfville and the surrounding areas.

There was no electricity in her area of White Rock when Granny started school and homework was done on the kitchen table by the dim light of a kerosene lamp.  An Aladdin’s lamp, a precursor of the modern Coleman’s lantern, gave a brighter light but they were few and far between. Granny remembers that an Aladdin’s lamp lit the farmhouse her grandparents lived in nearby, occupying a table in what then was called a parlour and is now called a living room.

In 1920, two gentlemen by the name of Jodrey and Wright incorporated two separate electric companies in Kings County; one of the companies ran power lines into Granny’s home area and by the late 1930s most of White Rock had electricity; the kerosene lamps were stowed away in a closet, only to be lit again when storms cut the power off.

Granny’s grandfather was one of the first in White Rock to own an automobile.  However, there was no government ploughing in her early days on the farm so when the snows arrived the car was useless and was put in the barn for the winter.  Travel then was by horse drawn sleigh.  Granny recalls winters when she went to church and to many community events in a sleigh.

With the car in the garage and the horse busy with necessary farm work, it meant Granny walked to school, about three kilometres away, in the winter; she walked to school most of the time in the spring and fall as well.

These are some of the things Granny recalls about her early days on the farm. And when she tells her grandkids about those times, the looks she gets border on incredulity.

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