From the Hill
by Carole Diehl
As I was sitting here, trying to recuperate from a fall I took this week, I started looking at all the things that need to be done that I wouldn’t have noticed if I was able to walk and do it. Funny, isn’t it? And then I started thinking of how lucky we are these days when it comes to keeping house.
Some of you will remember, and younger ones will think I am making it up, but our days went something like this when I was young and even when I was first married in a lot of ways.
Monday was wash day. You filled your machine with water, which was a wringer-type washer, added soap and turned it on until it was sudsy. You started with the white things. While they were washing, you added water to the rinse tub. Then you took the clothes and ran them through the wringer into the rinse water, and repeated, then separated the things that needed starched, and hung the others up to dry outside on the clothes line. You would boil the starch water on the stove, put the clothes in and with a big spoon pull it out and let it drip until you could squeeze it to get out the excess. Then hang it out to dry.
Tuesday was ironing day. You would sprinkle the clean clothes with water, roll it up, and let it set for a while, then iron until all were ironed and hung up .Usually all day. Then it was time for supper.
Wednesday was house cleaning day. Not the deep down cleaning like spring house cleaning, but still was time-consuming. The throw rugs were shook, and laid outside to air out, and you would then clean the floors. Wipe down the woodwork. Dust everything in the house, including lamp shades and knick knacks. Look for cobwebs you missed, and go on with the rest of the day. Doilies needed shaking, too. And the kitchen floor needed scrubbing. The mops were old rags on a stick that we wrung out by hand. And we all took part in our children’s school activities, so we had to work that in the day as well. No sweepers, no microwaves, no automatic anything then. The iron was heated on the wood-burning stove and you ironed with it until it got cold, and you would heat it again. Of course there would be spoiled food in the ice box that needed disposed of and the inside cleaned almost every day. The 50-pound block of ice had to be replaced every day in the summer. And the drip pan emptied twice a day or it would run over the floor.
Thursday was finishing up work that needed to be done, and we baked in between all of this, and kept cookies for the kids on hand to snack on. My Mom baked bread, but I was lucky enough to buy most of my bread when I got married. Homemade bread was a treat then. Cakes from scratch, pies would cool in the window sill, and the Lysol you cleaned with left a medicinal smell that mixed in with the baking.
Friday was a busy day usually. Any deep scrubbing that needed to be done was done then for the weekend. It was also store day. As we only had one car in the family, Mom would walk to the neighborhood grocery and take a list of what she needed. The grocer, Mr. Steffens, would get it and sack it for her. He would put the amount on the “tab” which was paid on pay day. If it was too much for her to carry, they would deliver it. Service with a smile and the trust of a handshake.
Saturday was spent listening to our favorite radio programs and enjoying the day.
Sunday was the big meal day after church, and maybe a car ride with my trusty beagle, Butch, by my side. Sometimes, we would get an ice cream cone on the way home. Or we had company. But we never missed the favorite shows on Sunday if we could manage it. Red Skelton, Fibber McGee and Molly, Bob Hope, and so on.
Monday, it started all over again.
Yep, we have it pretty easy these days when it comes to gadgets to help us. It is too bad we could not have had the best of both worlds in those early days. But then, people like me would not appreciate it as much if they had not lived the early years. Even with its hardships, I have to smile with the memories. And we survived!
Women used curtain stretchers to iron their curtains?
They beat their rugs on the clothes line with a broom?
The three hole ice cream cone for a triple dip?
My favorite, running home from the drug store with a pint of hand-dipped ice cream for dessert before it melted?
Carole Diehl is the president of the Strawberry Hill Neighborhood Association.