Letter Re: Lost Knowledge


My great grandmother was born in the late 1800’s and was raised in an orphanage in a rural area. This orphanage had an on-site school where, in addition to the 3R’s, all the girls were required to learn to “Cook, Clean, Sew, Crochet, and Knit”. All of the boys were required to learn to farm and master carpentry skills.

At aged 16 ,when she graduated school and left the orphanage, she was equipped to run a household and earn a living as a seamstress.

My great grandmother lived through the 1918-1919 flu pandemic and a typhoid outbreak. She died at aged 104 outliving three husbands, her only child, and her only grandchild.

She is long gone and with her a vast knowledge base. Gone is the knowledge of baking bread in a wood stove and in an open fireplace, gone is her hard-learned pioneer nursing skills, and gone is the knowledge on making lye and lye soap.

However, the most important of her knowledge is that of the homemade remedies and homemade medicines that is now gone. She had no cookbook; all of her recipes and knowledge were kept in her brain and not on paper.

About 25 years ago when I was working for a major defense contractor, there was another women in the department (with two children) who ate out for every meal. She bragged that she did not know how to cook. This was astonishing to me. Yes, she had grown up in very well off family, while I grew up in a very poor family. Aside from the money issues in our upbringings, I wondered what lessons she was not teaching her two children.

Please do not let this knowledge go away, if you have elderly family members. Please ask for this information. If you do not have any elderly family, consider being a volunteer at a nursing home, and please put this knowledge on paper. – F.M.

Hugh’s Comment: Absolutely! Let’s go a step further and actually put that treasure trove of knowledge to use today!