Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Back in my hometown, when I was growing up, Monday was wash day, all over town. I've written about that and shown a drawing of it, at my house, last week. Today I am showing the next day in the week, after all that washing was done.
Clothes were sprinkled with water, then rolled or folded over, ready to iron (without steam. We did have electric irons, though. Mama had a GE iron.). Things that didn't have to be ironed, like socks and underwear, were folded and put away.
Bertie was there to help Mama, some. Friends came over to play and we had a good time sitting in the pile of clean clothes on the kitchen floor, or crawing through cabinets, playing with the pots and pans, or just hiding. Mama didn't like for us to go in the cabinets, unless she cleared out all the cookware and let us play there. We must have dented a few pans.
I know that Mama was glad when the weather was good and we could play outside. But, sometimes, it was more fun to be in the house, where everyone else happened to be working. The grownups probably spent a lot of time shooing us out of places where we shouldn't be.
In my drawing, I've shown Bertie coming out of the dining room into the kitchen. Mama is at the wooden ironing board, ironing. I've shown three little girls playing in the clean clothes and the cabinets. The smaller one has to be my sister, the one in the cabinets must be my next door neighbor, Edie, and the one in the clothes was going to be me, but I think she looks more like another playmate, Tootsie. My pictures seem to have a life of their own. What I have in my mind is not always what comes out on the paper!
We had wooden cabinets in our small kitchen, with a built in dough board near the door. There were some shelves over the sink where Mama would put a plant, vases, and some souveneirs from trips, or wedding presents. She would put her rings on the bottom right shelf while she worked. The counter had small octagonal tiles in white, with some black trim. A glass bowl of water is shown on the counter. This is what was used to sprinkle the clothes once, then again when ironing if a wrinkle appeared or if the clothes dried before they were ironed. Some people had a sprinkler head that they placed in a Coke bottle. But a handful of water worked just as well. On the right side counter, there is the radio, where Mama would take it to listen to the soap operas after dinner. (That would be lunch, to some people.) Otherwise, the radio was kept on a small table between the living room and the dining room.
On the stove, there is a pot of homemade soup cooking, a coffee pot so Daddy could have a cup of coffee when he came in, and a smaller pan with some starch cooking, ready to use on things like shirts or pinafores. The broom is in the corner by the stove, along with a rack for a cup towel and a hook for a pot holder.
Ma, our part Blue Maltese cat, who had soooo many kittens over the years, is lounging on the linoleum floor. Her latest litter of kittens are in their favorite place, under the stove.
The window in the door is covered with dotted swiss curtains with a patterned trim. Mama was always sewing or making something to improve the house, and painting and wall papering went along with that. I remember the kitchen being yellow, light green, white, but always bright despite having only the door and window, and an overhead light to provide light.
In the space in front of the cat, there was a refrigerator with a cabinet over it. Inside the cabinet, there was the water heater. The door to the living room opened between the refrigerator and the cabinet where the little girl is peeking from.
I always wished for a fireplace, an attic that we could go into like in "Little Women", and a basement. But, our house was more of a two bedroom cottage. When it was first built, and Mama was showing the ladies around while they were there for an afternoon game of canasta, people were just delighted to see the "honeymoon cottage". I remember how impressed they were with the built in dough board. It wasn't long before we were crowded, and more modern homes were being built with so many neat things. And we longed for a bigger, more modern house. But Daddy wasn't about to move from the house that he had built and had paid for.
Today, my washing and ironing was done at the same time. Things are sorted, go in the washer, then the dryer. I hang things up right away, put things that need ironing on the ironing board. Things that are ready to hang are put away, while the ironing is sprinkled with a spray bottle. I kind of dawdle with that ironing as I put the ironing board where I can watch tv. Boy is it hard work, ironing all 4 of those shirts! Not really. It's nothing compared to the big load that my mother and Bertie did when I was young.
We learned to iron as children by doing the flat pieces, beginning with handkerchiefs and pillowcases. Some people liked to dry their handkerchiefs and scarves by flattening them out on the stove. That way, they didn't need much ironing. I still dry my scarves that way. Not on the stove, but on the shower handles. Thank goodness for tissues, so we don't have handkerchiefs to wash and iron like we once used.
As I iron today, I think, first, why didn't we buy wash and wear instead of looking for just 100 percent cotton! And, then, I think that it is nice to be able to iron shirts for someone again, after many years. And it's nice, having the time to do those little things.
And I remember how the clean clothes smelled after being washed outside and dried in the sun, and the smell of food cooking in the kitchen, the sound of the iron sizzling as Mama ironed, the odor of Berties dip of snuff, and the noises of little girls playing in our kitchen on ironing day.
Hope that, if you are ironing today, that it goes smoothly.
Look on the links on my sidebar and enjoy some of those sites. I enjoyed reading about Mary Marshall's participation in an art show over the weekend. And Esther Read had a story published in the "Corpus Christi Caller Times" about her mother. Virginia Vaughan has a lovely painting today of an old well on the farm that she is leaving, and a nice story about that place.
The Art Step in downtown Bryan was quite an event. They have a First Friday event each month there, so, if you missed this one Saturday, you have other chances to go. I sent two paintings to the auction Saturday. One was an acrylic on 16"x 20" canvas of the Art Deco series, "Deco Street", in black, white, and silver. I put it in a dark, plain wood frame and it looked really elegant. The other was of the watercolor farmhouse that I have shown you previously, and I put that in a barnwood frame with a gray mat. That one looks nice too. Goes really well with my stone fireplace! I thought I might have better luck with something smaller, but I guess that either they were not small enough, or the right person didn't see them. I still have them, in case you are interested.
My photos didn't come out very well. I'm not having much luck with the digital camera. There is a lot of yellow or orange on one side of my Deco Street painting from a lamp in the room, I guess. The frame doesn't show at all. In the farm house painting, the colors are distorted, and the whole picture is blurred. But, I'm going to put them on here anyway, so you can see what I sent to the auction.