From a wringer washer to a microwave.
by susan dayley in

My great grandpa, Lamoin Hatch, homesteaded in the town of Victor. It is located in a mountain valley on the Idaho side of the Teton Mountains. The peaks of the Grand Tetons can be seen from the valley. There are pine forests and Quaking Aspen groves and lush meadows. The streams are filled with salmon and trout with fresh watercress along the banks and wild chokecherries and huckleberries. The winters are unbelievably harsh though. To travel from Victor to Jackson Hole in the winter took two days back then, with a stop over half-way across the pass. There were Elk, bears, and lightning storms to fear, but the beauty of that valley can capture your heart and crush it.

My great grandpa and his brothers homesteaded on a ‘country lane’ a mile or two out of town, each with their own house clustered on the primitive road. He had purchased a town lot with a house where he lived when my grandpa, Dean, and many of his siblings were born. Then when my grandpa married, great grandpa Lamoin returned to the country lane where he built a two story farm house with three bedrooms up and an indoor bathroom down. But the town house, made of logs with manure chinking with a dirt roof had three rooms, one used just for storage, and no indoor bath. Later electricity was added and running water brought into the house. The roof of dirt was up to ten inches thick and weeds grew on it. The inside ceiling was paper which was occasionally perforated by an errant broom handle. When this happened the dirt that had settled above it would drizzle down. On cold January days like today I think of that small cabin where my father was born with its manure chinking. Perhaps the high snow served as additional insulation.

My dad was still a boy when they moved from the log house to a modern house a few blocks away. I often think of what the move might have meant to my grandma. There was a front door, and a back door. There were two bedrooms and an indoor bathroom. The bedrooms each had a closet. There was a wood burning stove in the living room to heat the whole house. Later an electric furnace would be installed in the hall to help heat the bedrooms. In the kitchen was a gas stove, a large sink which shared its duties with washing dishes, rinsing laundry, and cleaning fish. My grandma had the latest in washing machines in that home: an unwieldy, white, wringer washer. The floors were not level, but they were covered with linoleum that she could easily mop. When they moved, my grandma brought with her the beloved pump organ that she first began payments on when she was twelve, but that my grandpa then assumed and paid off. My dad recalls being “given my testimony through the seat of my pants as I rested on the knees of my mother as she pumped the organ and sang in my ear.”

Sometimes I look around my home and the things I take for granted that my grandma never knew, such as indoor heating, air-conditioning, beautiful floors, carpet, a microwave, a dishwasher, more than one bathroom, a basement, computers. I may not have an organ, but I have shelves of beloved books. Amid my luxurious life, I wonder if I appreciate my blessings. (But then again, I think my grandpa would consider that his beautiful valley more than compensated for the modern appliances I am surrounded by.) Still, lately I’ve been asking, “Do I live up to my blessings?” “Where much is given, much is required,” may apply to a knowledge of Truths, but it could also apply to conveniences that allow me more time from laundry, cooking, and cleaning to do things that my grandmother was unable to even consider. So I’ve been asking, do I fill that time vainly or as God would have me do?”


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