Scant interest in material possessions.

4 May 2010

I was reading an article in the latest Weekend Australian Magazine that comes with the Saturday paper.
The articles are often very annoying mainly because Stephen thinks they are not very well written and insists on telling anyone within range his opinion.

Anyway, this article was about Australia's oldest citizen, Miriam Schmierer who was born August 20th 1899. My own grandmother, my Mum's mother was born in 1893 so they are from the same generation. 
My Granny died about 25 years ago.

The thing that has stuck in my mind from this article is this paragraph, 
' ...Schmeirer epitomises a generation of pioneers who worked hard, rarely complained, harboured little sense of entitlement or rights, built homes but showed scant interest in material possessions'  

That describes my Granny perfectly.

Granny being menaced by my cousin, 1975

Although she saved things like string and brown paper, paper bags and old stockings ( to tie tomato plants to stakes) she kept very few possessions when she left the home in Pioneer where she had raised her children to move to an even more remote home at Rossarden before settling in the pretty little township of Latrobe.
The things she kept were useful things such as chairs, table, cupboards and a few sentimental things like pictures and a few books and small keepsakes of her mothers.
Her home in Latrobe , the only one I knew, was simply furnished, painted white throughout, the kitchen had an old laminex table, the chairs were wooden and old.
She had a braided rug on the kitchen floor. 
She liked to keep things neat and clean. 
She had a few ornaments that never changed, as a child I knew them all so well especially the bobbing head china dog and the metal basket of plaster fruit.
  My Granny wore her mother's glasses to read and to crochet and I think her crochet hooks also belonged to her mother. 
The older she got the finer thread she used for her crochet making mainly doileys and lace collars well into her late 80s.

The 60th wedding anniversary. I don't know why my Grandfather was dressed in his work clothes. Can you see the neatly patched knees on his trousers

My grandparents main concern with their house was that it was well maintained and was relatively comfortable. 
Broken things were mended, what could be re-used was, nothing was wasted.
They kept a neat garden and a bountiful vegetable garden. 
They really weren't into trying to keep up with or go past the Joneses.
My grandfather did have a rather inflated opinion of his own importance in society but didn't seem to associate that with having to buy things. 
Their home was so empty of THINGS  compared to my mother's home and then you come to my home and that of my sister and my  brother...

Deary me.

The flowers down the unused driveway

This much older generation, it  seems, they just got on and lived a life rather than trying to buy a life ( or buy a lifestyle as those silly ads proclaim).
They lived through two World Wars and countless little wars, the Great Depression, electricity being installed in homes, the telephone ( though my grandparents never had one), the car becoming common place ( again my grandparents never had one), radio and television, computers.
They saw great advances in healthcare especially things like antibiotics and the polio vaccine and whooping cough and diphtheria vaccines, diseases that had lead to so much heart ache in families by taking young lives.
Not to mention universal suffrage, the introduction here in Australia of the old age pensions and all the other social service payments, compulsory education up to the mid teens, on and on it goes. 

What a ride.

My grandparents were together for more than sixty years, my grandfather was a hard man , my grandmother was a hard worker.
Together they raised four sons and four daughters. 
They were both industrious and as self sufficient as they could be until the end growing fruit and vegetables, cooking from scratch, cutting wood for the fire - they just got on with it.

Oh, and by the way, it was Granny who named me Little Jenny Wren.

24 Responses to “Scant interest in material possessions.”

  1. Wow, Jenny, Thanks for sharing. This is a fantastic post. Your grandparents look so sweet. I often think about the rollercoaster ride this generation were on in terms of social change. I have always identified more with a "simpler" way of life, rather than a busy, competitive one. My Nana was born in 1934, my great-grandmother in 1917 and my great-great grandmother in 1895-- I remember her being around when I was little. I loved listening to her stories and perspectives on things. Once again thanks for this great post!

  2. My Mother was the second youngest child, born in the early 1930s, her oldest brother was born in 1915 so my Granny's children really spanned two generations. It's wonderful that you had the opportunity to know your great great grandmother.

  3. Jenny what a treat you have just given me. I'm home early to do some online work, I just made a cup of tea and decided to check my Google Reader before starting. Thanks for telling that story.

    My Nana (Mum's mum) died when i was 7 so her sister, "Auntie", became a grandma to us. Although she was a spinster Auntie had similar values to your grandparents -- she looked after her Mum "Granny" until she died. She continued to live in the little terrace house in Bondi, she grew vegies in her pocket handkerchief backyard and composted all her one person meal peelings.

    Auntie worked as a tailoress until she was 75 and finally moved in with Mum and Dad when she was 80. She lived to be 93.

  4. Jenny, I love knowing that she titled you little jenny wren. What a nice legacy to leave. Such a sweet way of describing a very busy girl. If that is what she meant. :) I miss my grandmother and her ways. She was single from 1938 on as that is when my grandfather passed and she was left with 3 daughters about 4 years apart to raise. I know how to be frugal mostly because I watched her and saw how happy we were when visiting her. We could count on vanilla ice cream with a chocolate sauce and sometimes crushed peanuts on top if we wanted. We had no pop at home or other extras so ice cream was so special. I'd give a lot to be able to sit down to ice cream with her again. What good memories. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Dear Jenny,
    Thank you so much for this beautiful post:)it brought tears to my eyes.
    It reminded me of my grandparents and great grandparents lives,I think thats why I live the simple life too,as that was how I was raised.Though I must admit after twenty odd years of op-shop buying I have a lot more possessions than my grandparents did!!

  6. Great post. The photos are great. They bring back good feelings.

  7. Jenny

    I love the pictures, they reminded me so much of my beloved Nanna and Pop, who passed away about 28 years ago. They also kept a well maintained house and garden, raised five children and boy did they work hard - they had to, there was no other choice. Thanks for reminding me about my heritage and sharing about yours.

  8. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. I know what you mean about "scant interest in material possessions" compared to later generations and all our "stuff". I don't think my Queensland ever bought anything (apart from maybe a Christmas tree) purely for the sake of decorating - everything had to have a purpose.


  9. Such a lovely post Jenny! It brought tears to my eyes and made me think of my grandmothers, I had 5 when I was born; 3 greats...and 4 grandfathers. They were such an important part of my childhood and I cherish their memories. I still see my grandfather every time I look in my oldest son's eyes. Thanks!

  10. Great post, reminded me of my maternal grandmother who was born in 1901 and lived a simple life, in a home with no electricity, running water or a phone until she was near 70. She always had a garden, raised her own chickens and had a smoke house to do her own meat. Quiet, unassuming lady, we didn't live near her and I wish I had known her better.

  11. I can't even tell you how much I loved this post. This is my great Aunt and Uncle that lived right across the road from us growing up, they even look the same. I try to live in that world, in my mind. I am a lover of a simple life. Thanks for your wonderful inspiring blog. It is my most favorite blog of all.

  12. hi
    Thanks for sharing ...
    You have written so well, I feel your grandmother looks so cute, and both as a couple look sweeter..
    I loved the post...

  13. I loved this post. It's so sad that most of these people are gone now, we can learn so much from them. Your granny sounds exactly like my grandma.

  14. Jenny, you brought so many memories back to the surface of my grandmother and grandfather. She was born in 1905 and he in 1904. The are both gone now but just reading the things you wrote about your grandparents, grandmother especially, made me smile. Even though you are lightyears away from me, our lives are so similar. I was born and raised in Washington state in the USA, but we both have very similar stories. I think your grandparents are lovely, thank you for sharing. I cannot go on as the tears will blur me off the net! Have a great week, Elaine in Texas

  15. what a lovely story I am very belatedly beginning a family history so can really appreciate such a loving story. Thanks Jenny

  16. What a gorgeous look into your grandparents lives and what a cute couple they were. Mine would have had very similar lives. I love this nostalgia.

    Cheers - Joolz

  17. I admire the older generations. When life, relationships and finances, got tough...they did not give up, they worked harder. Your grandparents pictures look so much like my great-grandparents, they immigrated from Germany (Pre-WWII) to America. They worked hard, and lived a simple life. We are trying to live a simpler, greener life...growing produce, fixing things rather than throwing things away. We do not have a car, we use public transportation by choice.

  18. A trip down memory lane of my own grandparents. Thankyou!

  19. Thanks, Jenny for sharing the story of your grandparents and posting their photos. I enjoyed reading about them and seeing their pictures. Their backyard was so neat - the grass carefully mowed and edged and the row of pretty flowers.

    My own grandparents were just like them and were such a good role model for me. My grandmother kept her house so clean and neat and she canned everything possible, even in her 60's. My grandfather had a huge vegetable garden and also grew vegetables to sell on their 10 acre farm.

    My mother and I lived with them for 8 years from the time I was one year old until I was nine when they had to leave the farm. It was one of the greatest blessings of my life to have lived with them during those formative years.

    My grandfather had lost his business and home during the depression and they had had to drastically scale back their lifestyle. I never once heard my grandmother raise her voice or utter a complaint. I remember her reading her Bible and singing the old hymns. She was a wonderful woman.

    Thanks for sharing your memories.
    Mary in PA

  20. My parents were born in the very early 1900s. My Grandparents of course even earlier. Your story of your Grandparents could have been theirs. On both sides of my family. One thing thinking back I have noted. They never complained. They were content with their lives. I never heard my Grandparents say they wished for a newer sofa or anything. Their furniture and things in their home remained unchanged for as long as I had known them. They were always kept clean and mended. One time I admired a plaque on the wall and my Grandmother took it down and gave it to me. I had always loved that plaque and knew the neighbor woman who had painted it. It to this day is in my home. They had so few ornamental things and she gave me one of them instantly. My Grandparents had very little money but again no complaints. No complainets about things or hard work etc. They fed anyone who came to visit. They gave to church and charities and any friend who needed a hand up. How they did it on their tiny bit of money is beyond me. They even bought homes and rented them out! One of my regrets is not asking them more about their life. Even more so not being able to tell them now how very much I loved and admired them and what a exemplary example they all were. Life was people not things. Thankyou so much for a glimpse into the lives of the Grandparents you knew and loved. Was it the way that whole generation was? If so what a lose to have lost that vision of simplier times and wiser people. What would our whole world be like if we were allto embrace these principles now?

  21. Jenny, what a sweet post. I think you could have been writing about my grandparents. I was raised by them. They both died about 15 years ago, within 3 months of each other, at the ages of 85 & 86. My grandfather was a quiet man - the local rural carrier mail man before he retired. My grandma sewed, crocheted, baked and they both worked the garden. If it was broke they fixed it, if they didn't have money for something they didn't buy it. When my grandma died she had sheets on her bed that she had mended and brand new never opened ones in the drawer. But the old ones where still useable so why open the new ones was her motto. I am sitting a my computer on a desk my grandpa made me in 1969. What sweet memories they left us with. I live in their home now - which was mine growing up. I am so blessed to have had their generation as an example. Just as I can see you were too. I love your blog. Keep up the great posts.

  22. Wow-thank you for sharing that story with us.
    What an amazing glimps into our grandparents
    Thank you!!!!!!!


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