Thursday, February 22, 2024

Gabriel and Sarah A. Chrisman

Port Townsend, Washington State residents Gabriel and Sarah A. Chrisman live as if they are Victorians. A bike shop employee and a writer respectively, the couple have never owned mobile phones and live in a house built in 1888 with a “period appropriate icebox” instead of a fridge and oil lamps instead of modern light bulbs. Of their existence, Sarah Chrisman comments: “The process didn’t happen all at once.  It’s not as though someone suddenly dropped us into a ready-furnished Victorian existence one day – that sort of thing only happens in fairy tales and Hollywood. We had to work hard for our dreams. The life we now enjoy came bit by bit, through gifts we gave each other. The greatest gift we give each other is mutual support in moving forward with our dreams.” Sadly for them, they also get a lot of abuse.


Gabriel and Sarah A. Chrisman – Port Townsend, Washington State residents Gabriel and Sarah A. Chrisman live as if they are Victorians. They get a lot of abuse. Gabriel and Sarah A. Chrisman – Port Townsend, Washington State residents Gabriel and Sarah A. Chrisman live as if they are Victorians. They get a lot of abuse.

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Evelyn McHale (1923 – 1947)

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    • I am following the activities of the Chrisman’s since a few years, so I think, I am able to comment on their rationale.

      Their intent is NOT to fully recreate the past, which, in fact, noone can, and they do know that very well. What they want – and actively live, is true freedom of choice. If they wanted (or needed) a fridge, they would buy one. But for now, they prefer an ice box. So what?

      Yes, they use a laptop, but this is pretty much the only electric device they have. Who wants to forbid them this choice? Other people can take a different choice.

    • uh, so? they live in a Victorian setting during modern times. Who cares if they don’t follow a time period 100%, heck how many of us refuse some new thing because we are used to the old one? Live and let live. They are not hurting you.

  1. Good for them. I expect they are having a great time doing it. Of course Rod appears and joins in abuse too, but that is fairly typical. I am only amazed our property professional hasn’t had a word,

  2. I think that they should be able to live their life the way they want as long as they’re not harming anyone. I believe there’s a lot to be said for living in the simpler time such as the Victorian era. And since they are actually living in the 21st century if they want to go to modern dentist, or on a computer, why not have the best of both worlds. I say kudos to both of you for living your life the way you choose.

  3. These two are so inspiring. Be who you are, no matter if it’s different and a few people laugh. Be authentic. You two are beautiful.

  4. I’m in my early 40’s and was raised by my Grandmother in a heavily Old Colony Mennonite area. She was not a Mennonite, but still had never had electricity or city plumbing. Just a well, oil lamps, kerosene heaters and wood stoves. She died in 2002 never having had electricity. Her view was “I’ve never needed it before, so why should I have it now? Vanity of vanities.” I began reverting to that lifestyle of my early childhood, as those were the times I was happier as a person, after I bought a similar urban Victorian cottage to my Grandmothers deep rural one. While I do have some modern conveniences like a 1938 fridge, a 1903 electric crystal chandelier in the dining room, 1924 Hoover vacuum, a 1925 Northome radio, and a 1930 Maytag washing machine (along with work-related necessities like laptop, internet, a cellphone, and a laser-printer) nothing in my house is in any way modern. While electricity is required by law in my county, my house was first wired in 1913 and all the outlets are in their original locations. As a result of my minimal electricity usage, my bill is quite small. I use about 10% of the electricity of most Americans. I use 5% of the natural gas as the average American because I heat with kerosene (which is cheaper in my area than LNG) and only use gas for my 1919 gas range and 1910 Ruud on-demand gas water heater. I eat a period diet, like my Grandmother fed me as a child, with no processed foods, a minimum of frozen foods (my freezer is literally a 1 foot square cube) and lots of scratch cooking with fresh ingredients, including baking all my own bread. It has had a tremendous positive effect on my health. I only buy commercial food products that were available during my Grandmother’s youth such as Gold Medal Flour, Oxo Cubes, Marmite, Coleman’s Mustard, Quaker Oaks, Kelloggs Corn Flakes, and things like that. Best thing is, not one item in my kitchen or having to do with food preparation or serving has any plastic in it. In fact, the only plastic in my life are my modern work-related technologies. I’ve gone through 20 computers and 50 or so cellphones in the last 25 or so years due to wear, tear, and planned obsolescence. But I’ve had the same phonograph for 35 years, and it was 85 years old when I bought it. My 1925 radio, purchased in 1989, has not required a single repair since the initial tube replacement in 1989. It still picks up AM talk radio and the classical and jazz station just fine, which is all I listen to anyway. For music, I have 78’s. My laptop comes in handy for listening to old radio shows that are no longer broadcast. Basically, I live the life I prefer to live, on my terms, as is my Constitutional Right as an American. I’ve always only worn suits and ties and have never owned a pair of jeans, and haven’t worn shorts since I was 6. Fashionably, I prefer men’s styles from about 1900 to 1925. I wear detachable, stiff collar shirts (out of laziness, they are easier to care for, stay cleaner longer, and a slightly worn shirt can be freshened with a new collar negating the need for constant washing…it’s the “ring around the collar” that folks notice, almost nothing else is visible in a 3-piece suit). I wore fedoras when I was younger, but switched to homburgs once I became a professional. I follow professional social dress-codes of the middle class in the early 20th C, including a Frock Suit for banking, business, and museums/art galleries, a Lounge Suit for daytime/weekend shopping and casual affairs, and an evening suit (white tie/tails) for the symphony and opera and formal dinners. I do not recognize “black tie” as appropriate for anything other than church or funerals, and that “black tie” is with a Frock Suit, not a modern “tuxedo” Dinner Jacket. For weddings, a Morning Suit during daytime affairs or an Evening Suit for an evening ceremony or the reception. I adopted a vintage lifestyle because living that lifestyle as a child was far less stressful than when I stayed with my mom in the modern world, and I adopted anachronistic dress codes as a rebellion against the “white trash shlub” mentality I have seen gaining more and more normalization over the last 30 years or so. It is within living memory that a gentleman should never go outside without at least a jacket, tie and hat. I was raised to those standards and I still live by them today. Now that I am older, I can experience the full breadth of men’s suit styles…there is far more out there than the boring sport-coat and slacks. Why be boring? It’s more self-respectful to wear what makes you feel good AND look good regardless of whether or not is modern pop style. I’m not independently wealthy, or even well-off. I am a lower middle class consultant. My collection has been built slowly over years until I simply weeded more and more modernity out until all that was left was the bare necessities to survive in the 21st C as a business professional. I buy things when I can afford them, otherwise I live by the greatest value my Grandmother (who went through the Blitz in ’40 and ’41) taught me…make do and mend. Yes, I darn my socks.


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