Why Do We Glorify 'The Good Ole' Days?'

Article Written by Heritage Farm Founder, Mike Perry

What is the fascination with the Past?
Why do so many people yearn for the Good Old Days, when life was felt to be more simple and families were thought to be closer?
Why did our grandparents and earlier ancestors seem happier and more content with life eventhough they lacked all the modern conveniences we take for granted today?
What is it that we feel we are missing that we believe they possessed?
What is our fascination with the Amish or visiting and studying the various communal groups of the past like the Shakers?

The ultimate question may be asked in many different ways. In fact in many instances the question can’t not be even precisely phrased, but is reflected by the gnawing feeling by many that we are lacking something that many people in the past seemed to enjoy and that something, whatever it is, has been lost.

The answer or answers to these questions remains somewhat of an allusive mystery. What could possibly be attractive living without indoor plumbing, electricity, central heat and air conditioning? Who really wants to go back to the horse and buggy for transportation or the telegraph for communication?  Who would want to not have available all the modern life saving medicines and hospitals as well as professional trained doctors and nurses to care for us? There has been a recent movement by homesteaders who are willing to forego these modern conveniences.   It is trying to define what it is we believe we are missing or have lost that is the challenge and whether we can regain it without sacrificing our modern conveniences.

Our lives today are extremely complex compared to those of yesteryear. We are surrounded by things we do not understand, can’t make or even repair.  When is the last time you tried to repair something? Perhaps this is why we admire the artifacts of the past. They were often hand made with great pride. The dates and names or initials were inscribed as reminders to the future of their existance. Who can resist the beauty and creativity of a hand stitched quilt made with recycled clothing or the smooth comfortable hand made tools of the craftsman of yesteryear?

It is my opinion that the key to our fasciation with the good ole days is the fact that people were able to provide for themselves. Imagine being able to build your own home, raise and produce your own food and even make your own clothing and footwear. They knew the satisfaction of a job well done and had pride in their work. They experienced joy and satisfaction in providing life necessities for themselves and their families. They knew contentment at the end of the day and the joy of a good night’s sleep, tired from hard work, but having the satisfaction of having done their best.

Things seem to control us today instead of us controlling things. In fact it may be even worse than that for many. The more things we have the more things we believe we need. Life seems almost defined by our accumulation of things. We somehow believe our ancestors learned to be content with what they had or at least what they reasonably could expect to get. We are fascinated by the stories of our elders particularly at Christmas when they relay to us the joys of receiving an orange or a hand made toy. We compare this to our experiences of hearing our children ask us “is that all?” after they spent at least an hour of non-stop opening of expensive gifts. Don’t get me wrong we adults are every bit as bad as our children.

Maybe we have too much time on our hands.  How many times have you heard  children complain there is nothing to do or adults echoing similar thoughts. Even when we have spare time we have difficulty using it wisely. How often have you heard there is nothing worth watching on TV? However we continue to sit there and watch TV. These spare moments were few and far between in the past but when they did occur they were used to make something, a quilt or even a musical instrument. It is difficult to imagine making a banjo or fiddle and teaching yourself how to play it and then later teaching someone else how to play it or make one as well. Crafts and skills were preserved and passed on from generation to generation. Thankfully there are people today who use their time wisely and can make many wonderful objects with their own hands.

Our Heritage Farm motto is “Experience the Past-Gain an Appreciation of the Present and Dream and Plan for a Brighter Future”.  Life is slow here.  Our guests reconnect with the past.  It seems as though for a short time their gadgets are not as important.  They stop time for a few hours when they learn a new craft, hike the trails or watch their kids feed and pet the animals.   While we cannot really pinpoint the cause of our yearnings for yesteryear,  we at Heritage Farm can temporarily fulfill the longings of going back in time.  We can teach an appreciation for the old ways, remind you how life was lived and maybe with your newly acquired skills you can incorporate them through the door of your future allowing your own sense of creativity , beauty and pride pave the way to a happier and more satisfying life. 

We are linking with Farm Friend Friday at Verde Farm, and look forward to following new blogs this weekend!