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The 1940s house

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Moving Houses

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The 1940s house

  1. 1. 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.
  2. 2. 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 Lyn. 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 the air. Food rationing: people are allowed a small amount of food for each week.

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