Fremont County, Iowa

Where Has the Visiting Gone?
by Sherry Perkins
View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
May 4, 2015

It is a Sunday afternoon, and I am recalling how it was thirty and forty years ago. We hurried through Sunday dinner and cleaned up the kitchen quickly. If we had not made a dessert on Saturday, we hurried to make brownies or a cake of some kind following Sunday dinner. Why? Because there probably was company coming up the road. We looked forward to grandparents or a favorite aunt and uncle dropping in for a visit at least several times a month. A good hostess was able to offer coffee, iced tea and a sweet before the visitors left for their homes.

There were no cell phones in those days. Most households had a telephone, but no one made long distance calls unless there was an emergency. Gas was under a dollar a gallon, and therefore one could drive somewhere without breaking the pocketbook. In the 1930's and 1940's, it was sometimes common for married children and their families to just show up at Grandma’s house for Sunday dinner unannounced. If she had many children, she might have twenty to thirty people for the noon meal. It was how extended families stayed in touch with one another. It was not so much of a problem for the cook, if they lived in the country where chickens, eggs and milk were available and garden produce was canned every year. The potato bin was always full so it was easy to throw more potatoes in the pot.

Warm summer evenings were times for visiting also. We might drop in to a cousin's house, or go see Grandpa and Grandma, and cool off with a drive in the country. At times, we would come home and find a chair, or milk can, shoved in front of our door meaning someone had dropped by to see us while we were gone.

In small towns, visiting was accomplished by taking a stroll through the neighborhood. Front porches were a mainstay of most homes and, if occupied by the owner, visitors would stop and share news and perhaps a lemonade before going on their way. Sometimes shelling peas, or snapping beans, took place alongside conversation with visitors on the cool porch.

Today we often build decks, instead of porches, and we may place them in back of the house to avoid being "bothered.’ We call before we go to see someone, and certainly never arrive unexpectedly, at meal time. The concept of being invited to someone's home for a meal is gradually disappearing as fewer people hold family gatherings except maybe on a holiday. Today grandmas are often the only ones to continue this practice because many women. of today. hold full time jobs and feel they don't have time to prepare big meals.

Is the world missing special bonding today because of television, DVD's and cell phones? Does anyone "go visiting" anymore? Or do our thumbs do the walking for us as texting seems be what many are doing?

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