Before the contemporary social phenomenon of DIY, people simply performed basic maintenance and creative tasks themselves. It was not considered to be unusual to paint a house, tune up a vehicle, construct furniture, decorate a living room, cook a holiday meal, or make clothing oneself.
Mom taught me how to cook a basic meal after I’d grown tall enough to see over the top of the range and to safely reach the controls. We often used to take care of the laundry together during the summer. This was accomplished with an old-fashioned wringer washing machine. We hung the damp clothes outdoors on clothes lines to dry. Mom taught me the basic procedures of operating a sewing machine.
Dad enlisted me as his “assistant” whenever he needed to change the motor oil in one of his Buicks. I also observed him do tune-ups and minor repair work on cars, his fishing boat’s engine. He frequently performed carpentry and plumbing repairs around the house. When he constructed the bedroom in the basement of our home, he had me follow him around to help. I have fond memories of dad and I getting supplies at the lumberyard where he had a first-name relationship with the clerks and proprietor.
Dad and nine-year-old me framed the walls, installed Sheetrock panels, installed electrical wiring, outlets, an over-head light fixture, put up ceiling tiles, and laid flooring tiles. Dad did all of the heavy-lifting and labor, but he made sure to leave child-size tasks for me. The finished bedroom was for my brother and me.
At the time, doing these tasks oneself was normal. This was just how people lived their domestic lives. Most of my peers had similar experiences.
I do not like to ask others for help. If I can do it myself, I do it. If I cannot do it myself, I find a way to learn. Mom and dad had the same attitude, so I absorbed that behavior from them. Knowing basic skills helped nurture my independent lifestyle. The Internet is now a continuing source of advice to aid in honing my present skills and learning new ones.
There has been the stereotype of a typical do it yourselfer as a camo-wearing, conservative Republican male with attitude. This off-putting image does not represent most of the folks I know who do it themselves. My fellow DIYers are conservative, liberal, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, straight, LGBT, smart, not so smart, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. As I queue to pay for supplies at the local Menard’s store, I see men, women, rich, poor, young, middle-age, and seniors.
Participating in DIY culture in any measure can be a mind expanding venture. Making or maintaining things oneself is highly rewarding and can boost one’s self-esteem.
There is a major caveat. When considering hazardous or potentially life-threatening projects do not attempt anything beyond your skill-level. There are projects that definitely require skilled professionals. Licensed electricians, plumbing experts, carpenters, and mechanics, provide expert services. Hiring professionals for crucial tasks also yields peace of mind.