Old-fashioned stuff for new-fangled kids

My Dad remembers wringer washers, oil lamps and sock darning balls.  But my daughter doesn’t…so how to make old-fashioned products relevant to new-fangled kids? I ask.   Bring them to the store and explain, not only what we sell, but why we sell, to whom and perhaps mostly importantly, how to use them.  Today when you get a hole in your sock, what do you do.  Throw it away and go buy a new pair, right?  But in the old days, you didn’t because…after you raised the sheep, sheared the sheep, spun the wool and knit the sock, you had far too much time and energy invested in the product to throw it away.

Wooden Sock Darner Ball

Wooden Sock Darner Ball

Enter Sock Darning Ball.  Made locally for us, this is a great example of a product our grandparents knew well, but kids today think it a really quiet rattle.

This morning and last Friday morning, I had the chance to give a presentation on Lehman’s and a store tour to a wonderful group of  students from North Royalton High School, near Cleveland.  They braved blizzard-like conditions to drive down to Amish country to learn about Lehman’s.  Not only did they ask great questions, they guessed nearly every single old-fashioned, but new product, I showed them.  From the soap saver, to the wick trimmer, to the lid lifter to the courting candle, they figured them all out.

Even though none of the students had been to Lehman’s before, I hope to see them again (with their parents in tow) soon.  By teaching the younger generation, who are all about the iPhone and Wii, why churning butter and heating with wood are important, we can keep the skills of yesteryear alive.

Think about it.  If no one knows how to churn butter (something my grandmother did three times a week), and no one can find a butter churn anywhere, what happens to that skill.  It becomes extinct.

When my father started Lehman’s in 1955, one of his goals was to preserve the past for future generations.  As long as great groups of high schoolers like the kids from North Royalton keep coming to Lehman’s, we can continue his legacy.

Glenda Ervin

About Glenda Ervin

Lehman’s Vice President of Marketing and daughter of founder Jay Lehman. She has filled her home with Lehman's products, and enjoys the challenge of using low tech in a high tech life. In addition to media relations and advertising for Lehman's, she speaks to groups about the history of Lehman's and the unique growth of the family owned and operated business.

3 thoughts on “Old-fashioned stuff for new-fangled kids

  1. Glenda, this post is timely for me, as I was part of a conversation on teaching “old” skills to our youth recently. We came to the conclusion that, while some youth are not interested in learning these skills, many are curious and, once they’re challenged just a little, they want to know more.

    Not only do these skills connect the past with the present in a very real way, knowing how to perform some of them may one day be a matter of survival, or at least, comfort. Weather and other disasters knock out power lines, and who knows what the future really holds?

  2. I feel that one of our most important jobs in life is to pass on the skills of the past to the future so that they DON’T get lost!!! I am so glad that Lehman’s is doing that. Keep up the good work!