Forgotten Skills Worth Learning

Basic skills that were once common knowledge are slowly fading away from everyday life — but should they be? Revive a few of these practical skills in everything from car care to clothing emergencies with a little time, knowledge, and practice.

Mastering basic skills considered essential in your grandparents’ days now seems pointless. Many of these forgotten tasks, however, serve a purpose in hard times or difficult situations, making it worth the while to keep the knowledge alive. Learn a few of the basic skills below and feel confident that you can perform these useful or unique tasks.

Change Your Oil

Before the complications of computers and electronics, basic car care and repair was often readily assumed by its owner. From changing spark plugs to changing oil, young men and women were often the ones under the hood or beneath the frame with a few simple tools in tow. While today most people would need an encyclopedia guide to find their way through any car’s wiring system, there are still some skills that anyone can learn with a little time and practice. Like changing a car’s oil or tires. Or learning the basics about fluids or battery operation. A night class in basic auto care or a local college’s summer or weekend roster may offer you the chance to recapture these skills and maybe save yourself a little time, trouble, and money in the future.

Grow a Garden

Whether you’re stuck in the city with a window box or stranded with a suburban lawn, a little soil, seeds, and time can recapture the forgotten art of gardening. The number of people once again interested in this once-essential rural skill is growing, inspired by green living, Victory gardens, and the stories of older generations who survived tough times with their own green thumbs. Whether you invest in classes or books, remember these are guidelines — the real efforts and success life in practice and patience. Window box tomatoes, potted herbs, or rows of climbing green beans on a fence — all will taste equally of sweet success when you harvest them.

Write a Letter

Writing letters is practice slowly discarded in favor of emails and text messages, even for business purposes. The know-how of writing a proper letter — whether it be a message to your congressman or a thank-you to grandma — is worth having, especially when it comes to making a good impression or a powerful point. Attention to grammar, format, spelling, and argument are all letter-writing basics that can even be applied in the age of email to create a coherent message that makes your point (and would make your English teacher proud).

Mend Clothes

The basics behind patches, hems, and sewing on new buttons is back in demand due to shrinking clothes budgets and a new sense of national frugality. Knowing how to replace a zipper or resew a strip of elastic is only the beginning: you can also learn to swap out eye hooks for Velcro strips, resew a fraying hemline, or take in a skirt from pre-dieting days.

Possessing the skills of long-ago is part of keeping traditions alive, and making day-to-day living a little more self-reliant in times of tight budgets or a small crisis. These tips from the past may help make your life easier and give you a sense of personal accomplishent, no matter how little or often you use them.

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