Went To Housekeeping

My aunt told me today about when her parents went to housekeeping.

I looked at her blankly.  A little more so than my normal blankly.

That’s what they used to say when a man and woman married and began their lives on their own.

Back when Grandma and Grandpa went to housekeeping it was a very different world.  Trust was between two people.  A contract was a verbal commitment.  Life wasn’t easy.  But you depended on one another to get through it.  I suspect my grandparents lasted well past the sixth decade of their marriage because their efforts were put in to raising children, creating a home, and depending on one another.

As much work as they did to survive and grow did not mean there was an absence of adventure and fun.

I have a feeling Grandpa had more surprises and laughter at the other end of his marriage regarding some of the things he lived through at the beginning of the marriage.  Truth be told though, he may have found it just as funny when it happened.

Many of our younger people now a days may not quite grasp how different things are.  That it wasn’t common to have a car or truck always at your disposal.  Many families had no vehicles.  Let alone two, or three or more vehicles just waiting to be used.

While Grandpa went to work Grandma would take walks in the neighborhood, her neighborhood or others.  With the kids.   I don’t know how many times this happened.  But it happened multiple times.

Grandpa would come home….

Honey, We've Moved

And Grandma would have moved the entire household.  Children.  Furniture.  Clothing.  Kitchen.  Everything.

Between her and the boys and their wagons.

Grandpa told me once he never knew if he was coming home or not after work.

There was no electric to have turned on, it would be on.  No deposits to have the water turned on.  You just talked to the person renting the house and moved in.   It seems Grandma always kept her eye open and feet walking, looking for places she liked better.  Until they settled in the home that we all, generations later, grew up knowing as their home.

There is something endearing to think about a life and time that existed where there was trust between persons entering into a business interaction.  And trust between persons entering in to a life time commitment.  Obviously Grandma knew what to look for to fulfill her family’s needs.  And Grandpa trusted Grandma to know when he came home, or what was his home, and his family and all of their belongings were gone that he just had to find out where they went.   She never moved to get away.  She moved to get them closer to where they needed to be.

I don’t know how many times they went to housekeeping.  But it makes for wonderful family lore to know that no matter how many times they went to it, they went to it together.

48 thoughts on “Went To Housekeeping

  1. Well written as always! You are right that somewhere between our parent’s generation and own generation, life took such a fast pace that everything got changed. From the family values and trust issues to the present era of Internet and smart phones. Your post was a reminiscent of things like”How green was my valley”.


  2. Wow, it takes so much to move… There is so distraction now. Everyone is always looking for better. People give up easier because of pride. There is something about our parents and grandparents.
    Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Imagine, Colleen. The excitement of discovery and then taking that little step in life every time a better place turned up down the block or the next street over. And then one day saying, this is it. This is all we need to last more than six decades of family-building. Bravo to them, my friend, the strong stock from which you come.


    • Thank you Mark. What a great comment. I can just imagine her cruising the streets, pulling a wagon (or two, they had 12 children total) of kids. Other kids trailing. Looking at houses and imaging setting up housekeeping in that house. I’m honored to think of them as strong stock. 🙂


  4. What a wonderful memory so elegantly told. It sparks memories of my own, very similar in nature. Thank you, I enjoyed it. 🙂


  5. Colleen, thank you for sharing this heart warming story, a touch of nomad, a lot of grace, a bit of a challege, and a never ending amount of love. Soft smile, I could amost see you being grandma, I think there may have been a time you could have filled her shoes, but that was an age ago. Our generation was already past that, future generations will have an extremely difficult time even accepting the concept. Take care, Bill


  6. I enjoyed this explanation about ‘housekeeping’ so much! Colleen, I love the way the house would be somewhere else when your grandfather came home. This is all new to me! I do feel that my grandparents were a team, they worked together. My grandmother had worked outside the home, before they married, then stayed home after that. They may have made it to their 50th, but my grandma died before I was 15, so I got to know my stepgrandmother then. I was her only ‘bridesmaid!’ Anyway, I love this post and thank you for enlightening me about a tradition I did not know about before this post! Smiles, Robin


  7. That is beautiful, and a different era. Now with deposits and notice, it is harder to move though we all do. Must be a great home that she settled on. 🙂


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