Monday, February 21, 2011

My Grandmother Was An Urban Homesteader!

My mother and grandmother

I have written many times on this blog about my grandmother, Anna Leonard Neer. She was born on a farm but ended up living in the city of Binghamton, NY. My grandfather was not reliable as the breadwinner in the house. He'd work a job, but the day he got paid, he didn't come home. So my grandmother always worked. She raised 6 children and was a the most self-reliant woman I have ever known.

Living in the city, in the downstairs of her parent's duplex, she turned the lawn into a garden. She grew everything possible, canned it all and worked all day at The Endicott Johnson shoe factory. She came home from work, fed her family and worked in the garden. Raised chickens right there in the city along with rabbits. She knew how to butcher everything, from living on the farm where she grew up. When her father traded his job of hauling coal out of the coal mines in PA, he moved his family to Binghamton. There he used his work horses to help build the Endicott Johnson shoe factories.

My grandfather loved horses and animals in general. He frequented the various livestock auctions and would bring home all kinds of critters. In the city back then, there weren't all these laws about what animals you could keep in the city. I guess because there were a lot more urban homesteaders back in those days than there are now.

My grandmother was a survivor and she did what she had to in order to care for her family. She took good care of them, loved them and taught them to work and be independent. The kids went to work when they were old enough and handed their whole pay over to her. She gave them some cash out of it, bought whatever they needed and used the rest to run their home and pay the bills. She didn't believe that they should have not been contributing to their home when they lived there. Even my uncles sent their money home when they were in the service.

All during the depression, they ate well, dressed well and were better off than most others. My grandmother had a cellar and a pantry full of food. Even later when she moved out into the country on a 99 acre farm, her pantry and root cellar was full of food. She grew everything possible. Now she was a true urban homesteader!

Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2011  Kathleen G. Lupole
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