Edwin Schafer wrote, 
How did people get along in the generation when my mother was bringing up a family---five boys. She had no knowledge of vitamins or bacteria, but I think she had good ideas about cleanliness. During that period there were no vegetables to be had in the food store, or if they could be found, it would be for a very short period. But during a short period in the summer we had peas, beans, beets, radishes, lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, mushmelons, watermelons. But during the winter we had cabbage in the form of sauerkraut, cucumber as pickles. And the store of turnips and pumpkins used mainly for cattle feed was raided. An acre of potatoes and 50 bushels or more of apples put in the cellar added to the food supply.
Peaches and cherries were available during their season and canned too, but no canned vegetables. Both peaches and apples were sometimes dried, and apples were made into apple butter---some times a mixture of apples and plums. Cider was also used in the process. And to continue, my mother made yeast for the bread that she baked, soap for washing clothes, butter from farm produced cream. A sour milk product was smearcase or shmeirkase or just cottage cheese. All of this was done without or refrigeration. I should make an exception for a single year when ice taken from the creek was stored in a cave type ice house. And I recall too that after a rain accompanied with hail, the hailstones that accumulate at the side of a building were brought into the house and Mother, with the help of an improvised freezer, made ice cream. That didn’t happen often.
My father knew how to process meat after butchering. I recall giving assistance in smoking. Now continuing just a little further, breakfast often consisted of fried potatoes, ham or bacon and two fried eggs and always milk to drink. Instead of ham or bacon, there was some times fried sausage put down in lard. It was nice too when fried mush was used with sausage gravy. Often we had fried chicken but not for breakfast. Occasionally but not once a year, we had fish in brine bought from the store. And the fish were served for breakfast.
When I was quite young, I heard of oyster suppers, the refreshments at some party. I never went. I heard my mother say, "I have my first oysters to buy." I think while I was still at home that we did have oysters.
How did my mother do it!?
 Family Document, Letter from E.G. Schafer to his daughter Judith Schafer Chevalley, 12 Feb 1965.