If You Went Back In Time . . .

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Re hygiene: In 1948 my two older brothers and another kid had been in the woods for a couple of days when one brother shot himself in the foot with a .22. When they got him home the first thing my mother did was heat water and fill a washtub. My brother was wailing “Mama I’m dying.” Mother said “Well you’re going to die clean.”
 

Loyalist Dave

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If you were able to go back in time to the 1700’s for a month or two, and had clothes and equipment appropriate for the time and place, what would be the one, two, or three things about society that you would have the hardest time dealing with?

For me, it would be the stench and general filth found on almost everything and everybody,
The general lack of knowledge or concern about bacteria and germ theory would be appalling.
Slavery would bother me too, but that is beyond the realm of this discussion.

For me, probably:

Odor. Not necessarily just humans, but lots more livestock in the villages, towns, cities than today. Horses, oxen to pull farmer's wagons into town to market. Horses for transportation of people. Cows for milking. Chickens, pigs, goats, geese, ducks, all kept domesticated and within town. Not that it's a terrible smell, but my nose is accustomed to ignoring car exhaust, not manure.

Food/water sanitation safety. A lot of folks weren't getting sick because they had immunity to the local bacteria. I wouldn't have that, and nobody had immunity to cholera or typhoid.

along the same lines First Aid. If I'm going back for say two months, either I'm toting a tube of antibiotic ointment or I'm not going. Would be a very interesting trip only to end with sepsis from a small scratch or cut. I wouldn't likely have the immunity to the local bugs that the locals have.

Which is why until the 20th century armies lost more from disease, and caused more collateral deaths from disease, than they did by combat, by merely moving men with resistance to bugs at point A, and having them march to where they had no resistance to the bugs at point B, all the while transporting the bugs from A to B where the folks living at B had no resistance to the imported bugs.

Language? Nah, I've read dozens and dozens of cook books, journals, diaries, newspapers, military manuals, sermons, from the 18th century, and while the spelling is sometimes odd, and the vocabulary has a word every now and then found to be used different than today, otherwise they spoke as we do. Accents my also be odd, but likely more entertaining than expected.

LD
 

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For me, probably:

Odor. Not necessarily just humans, but lots more livestock in the villages, towns, cities than today. Horses, oxen to pull farmer's wagons into town to market. Horses for transportation of people. Cows for milking. Chickens, pigs, goats, geese, ducks, all kept domesticated and within town. Not that it's a terrible smell, but my nose is accustomed to ignoring car exhaust, not manure.

Food/water sanitation safety. A lot of folks weren't getting sick because they had immunity to the local bacteria. I wouldn't have that, and nobody had immunity to cholera or typhoid.

along the same lines First Aid. If I'm going back for say two months, either I'm toting a tube of antibiotic ointment or I'm not going. Would be a very interesting trip only to end with sepsis from a small scratch or cut. I wouldn't likely have the immunity to the local bugs that the locals have.

Which is why until the 20th century armies lost more from disease, and caused more collateral deaths from disease, than they did by combat, by merely moving men with resistance to bugs at point A, and having them march to where they had no resistance to the bugs at point B, all the while transporting the bugs from A to B where the folks living at B had no resistance to the imported bugs.

Language? Nah, I've read dozens and dozens of cook books, journals, diaries, newspapers, military manuals, sermons, from the 18th century, and while the spelling is sometimes odd, and the vocabulary has a word every now and then found to be used different than today, otherwise they spoke as we do. Accents my also be odd, but likely more entertaining than expected.

LD
Even in WWII both the Allies and the Japanese sometimes lost more men to disease, malnutrition and poor sanitation etc than from battle wounds. It was said that one of the most important weapons the Allies had , was penicillin!
 
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Diseases is a big problem. The viruses and bacteria mutate over time. Thus diseases like smallpox, measles etc are different than from what we have today. All of our modern vaccines may be useless against old strains. An Ancient Greek city was wiped out by measles during a war and siege. Measles at that time was very virulent and it had a very high death rate. But it mutated into a less virulent strain. The black plague is another that mutated over time too.

I think not having toilet paper and figuring out where to relieve one’s self is going to be a problem. It isn’t something that gets any detailed discussions in the history books about how they did it back then.
 
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After doing some research, part of it was Jon Townsend's video on hygiene I found that most people back then washed fairly frequently. Mostly what we today call a sponge bath, bathing was considered full immersion in water. As LD referred to the smells you would primarily encounter would be from the plethora of domesticated animals but also from the large number of outhouses. Also in larger cities some privies were on the ground floor with the outlet being an open gutter into the street that sometimes had a larger gutter running down the center of the street. In the country it wouldn't be all that bad.
As for food and the drinking of water practicing modern personal hygiene, washing your food and boiling your water should take care of any pathogens.
Physicians at the time weren't much better than Indian medicine men.
 
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Just about every aspect of life in general would be pretty alien to me. I'd get around the language problem by simply speaking modern German and pretending not to understand English. I wouldn't want to talk to anyone anyway.

I lived through the entire 1960's and 1970's . I still know the lingo and most of the customs prevalent forty years ago. I wouldn't have any problems driving the cars, using a typewriter or finding my way around a library card file catalogued in the Dewey Decimal System.

That said, the word "nigger" was in common use throughout those eras. There were still "whites only" signs up in the sixties in some areas. Beating women was common and the police did not usually get involved. FOLFOX cancer treatment had not been yet invented so I would likely be dead after a few months had I been 66 years old back then. Smoking was something I just would not have been able to tolerate on buses and planes.

That was only forty to sixty years ago. I cannot imagine hundreds of years. A while back I was contacted by a distant cousin who found me in the Ancestry.com database. I had a great uncle who'd had an illegitimate child and she wanted to know if I had any pictures of her great grandfather. (I did) It was such a scandal that nobody even in the family knew of the existence of this child.

No thanks. I'll stay in the present. I got used to MS-DOS and I can find my way around a Linux/Unix/Posix system. I don't do Windows by choice. I would suppose that if I live long enough I'll learn to handle whatever comes next. I'd go to Mars if they'd let me take my Hawken.
 
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Hygiene and meal prep and manner of dress in the eighteenth century were practical and kept things tidy enough, but they’re labor intensive. Even if you’re a housewife you have to do a lot of hauling water and wood, and sweating over a sooty hearth, and while I’m not in bad shape, my basement-dweller chores are fairly sedentary ones. Unless I was able to stay at an inn and spend my anachronistic months in pure idleness, I’d be plum tuckered out!

I wouldn’t get to lounge around with my legs apart, either. That was a big taboo. Then I’d die of cholera
 
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