The Sunset Years
Before the ‘golden years’ arrived, the division of labour was fair for both husband and wife. In the following posts, I will talk about the injustice of the heavy burden for Frau Panknin as a mother, housekeeper, cook, and wife. I will also show how much, on the other hand, Papa enjoyed his sunset years as a father, hiker, traveller, hobbyist, and history enthusiast.
Grocery shopping has drastically changed since the early 1960s. Nowadays, well-to-do families living in their homes or modern high-rise apartment buildings take the elevator down to the ground floor, step into their car and drive to a nearby shopping centre. After they are done shopping, they may have time to dine in a family restaurant and take the kids to a bowling alley or the movies for some weekend entertainment.
Sixty years ago, in the little town of Velbert, Elisabeth Panknin went shopping at least twice a week. She takes two large cloth bags and descends the 120 steps down to the ground floor of the three-story building. The tiny neighbourhood corner store only carries bare essentials, like bread, milk and butter. Frau Panknin takes the bus to a larger city. She only buys as much as she can carry. Public transportation poses a problem when the bags are filled to the hilt, and there is no seat for a sixty-year-old woman in an overcrowded bus reeking from the nauseating fumes of cigarette smoke. It is also time-consuming. If you miss the bus, you may have to wait up to an hour to catch the next one. Mutter Panknin finally stands at the entrance of the apartment building. Huffing and puffing, she climbs up the staircase with the two heavy bags of groceries. Then, you will not believe this. She immediately starts cooking the evening meal for her husband and the twins Gertrud and Walter.
5 thoughts on “Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch7 Part 09”
In the city life was a bit easier, shops were closer by. But the rest was the same. My father didn’t help with anything at home, not even when my mother started working parttime. My brother and I helped with chores instead.
What a powerful woman she was!
I can’t imagine doing that. She must have been exhausted—and then she had to cook (and presumably also clean up after dinner).
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Frau Panknin, deserves a Medal of Honor. It sounds like quite a marathon to get the groceries, fix the meals, and I am sure doing all the washing and cleaning.
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When I was growing up on Long Island (New York) in the early 1950s it wasn’t unusual for a mother to walk half a mile each way to do the shopping. A collapsible, light-weight, wheeled shopping cart made it easier to transport more than it would be comfortable to carry. Before long, though, most people did the shopping by car.