Earlene Ahlquist Chadbourne’s book, A Child’s Life 90 Years Ago, is a fascinating look back at the lives of her father Earle and his sister Florence, as they grew up in Scarborough, Maine, on a rural farm from 1923 – 1946.
Earlene has a talent for putting you right there, experiencing life without indoor plumbing, electricity, or the other comforts which we take for granted today. Even as they traveled in a horse and buggy, I felt like I was riding right along with them.
This was a tough one for me, because I was reading it during the NCAA basketball playoffs and I almost missed a key game because I couldn’t put the book down!
Throughout the book Earlene shares a lot of her family recipes which made me very hungry. And the book includes wonderful photos of the family and farm.
I thought I grew up in the good old days – the 1950s and 60s – but I had no idea what a wonderful life was available to the hard-working people of the early 1900s.
In the last two years of their life, Earle and Florence lived in two separate nursing homes, and Earlene went back and forth, recording their wonderful stories and memories for this book. They lived through the depression and World War I and II. Earle was badly injured in World War II, but fought his way back to life.
I enjoyed the early stories the best as the kids grew up and worked hard on the farm, went to a one-room community school, and experienced lots of things that improved their lives including the arrival of electricity.
You might actually think from reading some of the chapters that life was pretty tough back then. One chapter titled Challenges and Gaining Strength tells us about a severe drought that destroyed 22 acres of corn. The children all had bouts of measles, chickenpox, and other childhood maladies. And the mother developed pneumonia. But their whole extended family and friends rallied to help them.
The family was very religious and prayers were an important part of their everyday life. It was a long ride to church but they went as often as they could, and one pastor agreed to come to their house twice a month and conduct church services there.
You can purchase this great book at Scarborough Historical Society, Maine Historical Society, and on Amazon: