C. But food and warmth were not as important as safety – their first task
was to quickly dig a hole in the garden for a 2 metre by 1 metre air-raid
shelter. World War II started in 1933 and, although the war wasn´t real for
the Hymers, they spent a lot of time in the old-fashioned shelter. They
wanted the experiment to be as realistic as possible.
A. There were many times when I thought, “I can´t do this. I am a twenty-
first century woman, I don´t work eighteen-hour days.” But then I´d stop and
say, “Hang on. In the 1940s, women didn’t-t say they couldn’t-t do it. They
just got on with it.” These are the words of fifty-year-old Lyn Hymers, who
took part in an experiment called The 1940s House. The purpose of the
experiment was to see if a modern-day family could survive in the 1940s.
B. In March, Lyn, her husband Michael, her daughter and two grandsons
arrived at a three-bedroomed, semi-detached house in south London.
Unfortunately, when they opened the door, all twenty-first century labour-
saving devices magically disappeared. There was no central heating in the
two-storey house, not much soap or toilet paper and only a radio for
entertainment! The family didn´t have a fridge, but luckily, they had an oven
and a larder. They also had a coal fire to keep them warm.
D. The war wasn´t real, but the difficulties of everyday life were. In the
1940s, there was food rationing. There wasn´t much meat or milk, or many
eggs, and the food was really boring. As a result, the family were often
hungry, especially the children. Before the experiment, the children often
had snacks, but now they ate dry sandwiches for lunch, filled with lettuce
from the garden.
E. Domestic chores were a challenge, too. In the 1940s these chores were
like a full-time job. While Michael went out to work, Lyn and her daughter
spent most of their time preparing meals, doing the dishes and hoovering
the floor. Things that Lyn did easily before, now became terribly difficult.
She missed her washing machine most of all. “We had to boil the clothes
and when the weather wasn´t good, it was impossible to dry anything,” said
F. Today, Lyn is back in her modern, open-plan home, but surprisingly, she
misses the 1940s house. The family grew closer, she feels because they
helpfully shared the hard work. In the evenings they played board games
with the children, read books or just talked. Life in the 1940s wasn´t easy,
but an easier and more comfortable life doesn´t necessarily mean a better
life. “I would happily go back there,” she says. “ I loved that house and the
shelter where we all laughed and cried together as a family.”
Air-raid shelter: a small building used to protect people from attacks from
Food rationing: people are allowed a small amount of food for each week.