It wasn’t until I was reminiscing about living on Prescott Street in Halifax, our old charmer of a co-op house, that I realized that I had more than an academic knowledge about living without modern conveniences. Sure we had running water and electricity which was a plus but the house lacked the washer and dryer which were common household equipment at the time that we moved in. Not that we had enough hot water to run a washing machine, there was no separate hot water heater and no central heating.
I remember the quick dash down the stairs on a winter morning to turn up the oil stove in the living room, a little nippy! Yes, we had electricity but didn’t trust it enough for an electric heater upstairs. We learned the rules of living with the conveniences we had – things just took longer to cook on an oil stove. There was hot water, but only if the kitchen stove was on for a long time because that’s what heated the water in the bathroom tank.
After I considering that the kitchen stove would be used sparingly in the summer so there would be very little hot water, one of my first purchases was an electric kettle so I would have hot water to wash my hair in the summer. Unlike those TV programs, I wasn’t going for authenticity. I wanted convenience. And really, I think it was probably that way for the time periods portrayed in those programs as well. Once there was new technology to make their lives easier, people introduced it a bit at a time.
The Prescott Street living room oil stove