Monday, October 29, 2007

Blue Monday

Blue Monday
Wash Day
8.5" x 11"

Don't forget to watch "On The Record" tonight (Monday) on Fox news, 9p.m. central time, 10 p.m. eastern time. Greta Van Susteran is having a special on breast cancer and her trip with First Lady Laura Bush to the Middle East where Mrs. Bush was trying to create more awareness about breast cancer.
Read Greta's blog for more information and wonderful pictures and videos she took on the trip. I feel like I was with them!

Scroll down to my last slide show to see the latest watercolor I added about the space station and space shuttle flyover.

I thought that Blue Monday was called that because of the blueing that was used in the wash water with white things to make them look whiter. I didn't know that it might have been because of the sad idea of having to start another long week at work, or the daily grind of housework, or even of a rainy Monday that might make some people feel blue or depressed.
Monday was wash day, all over town, not just at our house. Tuesday, was ironing day; Wednesday was heavy cleaning such as mopping and waxing floors, taking blinds down and washing them in the bathtub, with the afternoon reserved for Bible study groups or some sort of get-together. At night, the Baptists had church.
Thursday was a day for lighter cleaning, sewing, patching, darning and, in the afternoon, the ladies would gather for their sewing circle or, during the War, for the Red Cross Sewing Circle. There they might knit socks or sweaters for service men, or roll bandages.
I can remember meeting on the sidewalk beside the bank and in front of Mack Remberdts Furniture Store with the ladies. I wandered around, while my mother and the ladies rolled bandages, sitting on the wide step in front of the building. When weather was bad, we would either meet inside, courtesy of Jessie Marie, or at Mrs. Wyser's house. I guess we had to stay out of the way of potential customers, or couldn't go in when the owner of the store was around. I'm not sure about that, since I was a kid and more interested in the patterns of the bricks and why they were not level in some places, and the metal in the steps and the decorative panels in front of the building.
Friday was yard work and finishing up the school week with the big football game on Wilkerson Field that night. There was always a big crowd for that, while a lot of the ladies stayed at home and listened to the radio. You could just open the windows and hear the game being announced over a large portion of the town. This was also the day of the big auction at the Auction Barn, with a lot of people going to the cafe there for lunch.
Saturday was the big downtown business day. Maybe some more yard work. Movies and the drugstore for the kids. A trip to the Katy Hamman Stricker Library in the morning, along with radio programs beginning with "Buster Brown", then "Jack Armstrong", "Sky King" and others, until time to walk or ride the bike to the library. Choir practice, and, for my mother, organ practice, was on Saturday afternoon. This was also the day to wash and dry hair. Saturday night was radio while baths were taken and Sunday dinner was started. Daddy always had to work late, as the stores were open until people quit buying, getting ready for church, and the next week.
Sunday morning was Sunday School and Church. For our family, it was Sneed Memorial Methodist Church. The family gathered at one home for Sunday dinner, depending on who wanted to be the host that week. Sometimes, especially if there was illness in the family among the women who had to do all the work, we would go to the White Hotel or the Calvert Hotel for a big family style Sunday dinner in the large dining rooms.
After dinner, and a nap, the men went out to check cattle in their pastures, then we all went for a ride. Then there was supper, often of Red Roast and Red Gravy sandwiches on toast, and we could eat a stack of those! Sure were good. We would eat until we were about to pop, and still wanted more! Then there were Sunday night radio programs. I liked to go over to Edie's house and listen to her big floor model radio in the living room. We could sprawl on the floor and get lost in the happenings on the programs.
Then it was back to Monday, and washing all those clothes we had worn all week!
In my drawing above, I have shown the clothesline in our back yard, which began at the corner of the garage, and stretched across part of the yard to where my dad built a tin roofed shed. Behind the clothesline, you can see the fence which he used to enclose the horse pen, for our horse, Flicka. The trees behind the horse pen separated our yard from the next yard, where you can see a bit of the roof sticking up of the wooden house behind us. The shaded area shows Mud Creek Mountains. Not really mountains, but hills that ran along Mud Creek south of town, separating us from the next town 7 miles away. We could see train lights coming over that hill into town, and, during War years, we could see the search lights during air raids. They were coming from the next town which we thought might be a target due to oil storage tanks and rail lines, as well as the POW camp.
My mother was dressed in her dress, with fairly nice shoes on, while she hung out clothes. Bertie, our helper, wore boots, that hung open at the top, cotton stockings, loose skirt and blouse, a jacket with sleeves, and a sunbonnet. Sometimes, she wore a scarf wrapped around her head. And, of course, she had her dip of snuff in her lip. In the picture, she is mashing the clothes with a broom handle. My sister and I liked to play in the billowing sheets, so I have shown her crouched on the inside of a sheet, with me pushing through the sheet from the outside. She is following Poochie, our dog, who also liked to play wherever we were playing.
Clothes are boiling in an iron wash pot over a fire, fairly far from the house. There are buckets for carrying water from the house to the wash pot. A rub board and a bar of lye soap are on the ground. There is also a box of detergent used in washing the clothes. (One concession to modern times. But, they still thought that clothes were not clean unless you used some lye soap too.)
The heavy pot would have to be emptied and refilled as the water became too dirty, and between the soap and rinse steps.
Prior to this stage of wash day, Bertie and my mother spent time in the kitchen, by the back door, sorting clothes, then washing them in the kitchen sink, with a rub board. Dainty things, like ladies unmentionables, would be first, and those things were hung in the bathroom on the shower rod, where the neighbors' eyes couldn't see them. Those might be done in the bathroom sink as needed, rather than waiting until Monday. Delicate scarves and blouses were next. Heavier, and more soiled things came later. A little blueing was added to the water of white things to make them sparkling white. Starch was boiled on the stove and added to shirts, pinafores, some blouses, tablecloths and napkins, and anything that had to hold its shape and look smooth. Clorox was added to white things that needed bleaching.
The wet wash had to be hung on the clothesline to dry, with wooden clothespins that remained on the line, ready for next week's wash. Rich people might have a canvas bag to keep their clothespins in, and take those into the house after the wash was dry. Our's stayed in place, and the same pieces could be hung there the next week. Sometimes they would break off, which meant doubling up on the pins for the next piece of laundry. It was, for some reason, exciting when a new package of clothes pins would be brought home and placed on the line. The kids wanted to be the ones to put the pins on the line! Simple pleasures. I guess it was tactile and had to do with the feel of the spring and the new wood.
It was a big setback if one of the posts holding the clothesline would break or fall over, and all the clothes fell in the dirt and grass and had to be rewashed. Daddy liked to use wooden posts, or even a plank to prop up the line if we had something heavy like quilts drying. After I was grown, he had someone make some metal posts, which were much sturdier and long lasting. But, I could tell that he didn't really like giving up those wood posts. Mama was happy to get any convenience.
It was heavy work, with a lot of carrying from the house to the back of our yard, and, sometimes it didn't all get done in one day. But, most of the time it did, and things were ready to do all the ironing the next day.
Bertie didn't help us full time. Daddy didn't make that much money, and he was very conservative with his money, anyway. But, on Monday and Tuesday, and, sometimes other days, he would get Bertie to come help out. Some of the homes had regular help, and some, just occasionally.
Bertie was like another one of my mothers, I thought. I always asked her, on wash day especially, when we would play outside, if she would bring one of her children to come play with me. She would just laugh, and I would continue to beg. I don't think she ever did bring one of her children to play while she worked.
Daddy finally bought Mama a front loading washing machine when I was in high school. He put it on the concrete slab outside the back door, where he planned to build another room, a den, onto the house, eventually. Bit by bit. He ran the hose out in the yard to a pear tree, which was also our pet cemetery. During times of drought, he would move the hose around to water some of the trees in the back yard. Mama argued that the hot water was going to kill her trees, but I guess the soap made the trees flourish. That tree had some wonderful pears!
Work was heavy, meals had to be ready on time, children had to be cared for, social and community obligations had to be met. It all had to be done daily, on a schedule, throughout town. The fire whislte blew at noon and at 6 in the evening, so everyone knew to go eat dinner or supper. You could tell the time by the trains that went through town, every 15 minutes.
My great aunt, across the street, had her laundry picked up on her front porch by a laundry and cleaners who came to town each week. She worked hard, and sometimes helped at her husband's store, and her husband wanted her to have that luxury of not having to wash in the back yard. That was fun to play around in the sheets as she prepared them to be wrapped up in one big sheet, and set, like a big bag with ears, on her front porch.
I'm so glad that we have washers and dryers in our homes, now! I don't think I could make it even through one load of clothes like my mother did every week! I have washed clothes in the bathtub and the sink, in a portable washing machine, and lugged things back and forth to the laundromat. I even did the rub board in the sink at my mother's house when my son was small. I thought it was just a step up from a rock in the river!
Hope your laundry is done, and that this is not a Blue Monday for you! My laundry is still going, but, at least, I can do other things while the machine does the hard work!

Greta Van Susteran asked those of us who read her blog and her viewers to spread the word about her special on breast cancer tonight. So, I'm inviting you! Hope you get to watch. If not on tv, maybe you can find something about it online. There was a tv program about breast cancer on Channel 13 out of Houston last week. They had a lot about Baylor Hospital in Houston on that program. That might be online, too.
One question in the blog was whether or not people thought that mamograms should be free. That raised the question about what would happen if something was found and treatment needed. Who would pay for that? And what about other illnesses and diseases? A whole flood of thoughts and questions. Of course, I can't help but wonder about the issues that I struggle with, like treatment for Macular Degeneration, cataracts, knee replacement, medication, visits to doctors, and the healthcare that we all need.
Look at Creative Journey blog, when you get a chance. I like her idea of a weekly challenge, not to mention the creative projects and art work that she is showing. Very interesting. Check it out when you get a chance.
Also, look at Nancy Standlee's blog. She has some very appealing work and ideas, too. You can find a link to her in the sidebar of my blog.
Virginia Vaughan is another busy artist, with some very nice work. Be sure to check out her blog, too. She is painting, "the last", as she winds up her Last Year on the Farm.
Let me know if you see something that appeals to you. Thanks for your comments and your support, and for sharing this with others.


Nancy Standlee said...

My dear Cecelia, Thanks for mentioning my blog and how I wish you'd gone to Tarleton with my class with your wonderful memory. Then we would have had wonderful stories to tell at Homecoming. Great drawing of wash day. One of my fond childhood memories of my mother was going with her to the washateria (is there a word) and catching the clothes as they came through the wringer and going home with tubs of clean clothes to hang on the line. I'm so thankful for my washer and dryer.

Cecelia said...

Thank you, Nancy!
I'll bet we could find some stories to share, being in high school and college, not so far from each other, about the same time!