Our house was out of town so there were no street lights. It was dark outside, particularly on winter nights. We depended on wood for cooking and heating. Lighting inside was provided by kerosene lamps, unless father lit the shellite lamp, which was like a Coleman lamp. A lantern or battery torch was used outside or if we needed to go from room to room.
Doing one’s homework by the light of a single kerosene lamp was a far cry from studying under an LED. Amazing how our eyes adjust!
When I ventured into the ‘outside’ world, it took me a long time to remember to ‘flick the switch’ at dusk as we used to only light the lamp when we really needed it. I can still hear my flat mate’s remark ‘We DO have electricity here, you know’ when I would be pottering around in the kitchen in the half-dark. Even today I can not understand why lights need to be on during the daylight hours.
Apart from the lighting, the most frustrating thing to the females in the family was the ironing. We didn’t use the old flat irons (that were later often used as doorstops), we had the more up to date ‘Mrs Pots’ irons, with the removable handle. They were shaped a bit like boats with an arched clip-on handle. We had about three that were heated on top of the stove and when they were hot enough ( measured by spitting on - wouldn’t be appropriate in this COVID19 climate) we would clip on the handle and proceed to the table, carrying it upside down as we couldn’t trust the clip to hold the fairly weighty iron.
Because the iron didn’t retain the heat for very long we had several trips back and forth to the stove exchanging a cold iron for a hot one so the whole process took a while but we did get a bit of ‘gym’ work in. We loathed pressing our navy school tunics with the three box pleats in the front and back. To add to our frustration the ironing was carried out on a flat kitchen table, so you can see how hard it was getting sharp pleats in both the back and front. Oh, how we loved it when they needed to be dry cleaned and came back with beautifully pressed pleats.
When our poor mum did the ironing she dampened things down, first by splashing water with her hand from a basin and rolling the clothes to keep them damp whilst the irons heated, making it easier to iron out creases.
Sometime after my sister and I left home our parents finally had the power connected. This was a big turning point for them. But the biggest turning point for our mum was when my sister and I presented her with ......an ELECTRIC IRON.