Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wednesday-Heavy Cleaning

It was a big job, cleaning and waxing floors, but something that had to be done often to keep those hardwood floors looking good.
After finishing washing in the wash pot on Monday, and ironing on Tuesday, Wednesday was the day to do the heavy, inside cleaning, like waxing the floors.
Mama and Bertie would shove the furniture over to the side of the combined living and dining room, and put the table near the kitchen door in the living room. Sometimes they rolled the baby grand piano over, but that could be worked around.
First the floor had to be swept. A big pan of soapy water and a rag was used to wash the floor, then clean water was used in the same way to rinse the floor. Mama and Bertie crawled around on their hands and knees as they used wet rags on the floor. Then it was dried with a towel. That was accomplieshed before noon, or dinner time, when Daddy would come home from the store, expecting a big meal.
We ate with the dining table out of place. It was kind of nice to be able to look out the front door while we ate, instead of having to watch the kids who stayed at school for dinner. That made my stomach hurt, to think of having to go back there after we ate our dinner.
If we didn't have roast the previous Sunday, and if there were no left-overs to make some roast dish, Mama would make a meat pie. That, and stacks of white bread, glasses of water, and, if in season, Mama might slice a tomato, would make a filling meal. Mama might make fried pies, filled with fruit, or have Jello or vanilla or chocolate pudding for dessert. We couldn't have banana pudding because Mama used the same bowl for banana pudding that she used to cook the meat pie in. A green Pyrex bowl.
After eating, Mama would listen to her soap opera on the radio, while she washed dishes, and Daddy went back to work. If school was in session, I would go back to school or, if I was at home, I would stay in my room and try to avoid the pungent smell of the next step in the almost weekly floor routine.
Mama would get a clean rag, preferably torn from an old sheet or pillowcase, open the can of Johnson's paste wax, swipe some onto the cloth, then rub it onto a small section of the hardwood floor. She rubbed it in a circular motion, then moved on to another section, still moving about on her knees. She covered the living room and dining room floors, except where the table and front door were.
Then, she went back with a clean rag and rubbed the wax some more to polish it. When that part of the living and dining room was done, she and Bertie moved furniture back in place, then repeated the process on the section that had been covered by the dining table, then moved into the small hall to work.
The same process was done to the floors in the two small bedrooms, but not as often. Everything had to be moved out of the rooms, and, usually, that was done on a warm, sunny day when bedsprings and mattresses were moved outside to be aired or washed with the hose.
Some weeks, the ladies tried to finish their work early, have a bath and a rest so that they could dress up a little, and meet at different homes. Wednesday was Bible Study afternoon, with a group leader or the preacher meeting to study and discuss the Bible. The Baptists then had church on Wednesday night.
There was always a big spread of food, refreshments, every time there was a get-together. There had to be hot coffee, and maybe sandwiches, cold cuts, cheese, some kind of spread, relishes, chips, rolls, coffee cake, or other kinds of dessert. Jello salad was popular, or spiced peaches, or even a peach or pear half, served on a piece of lettuce with a dollop of mayonnaise on top. A pineapple slice could be served the same way.
One hot day, the lady in the two story house across the street, shooed us kids out of the house as she had a big group of ladies coming in for their afternoon get-together. There were plates with the prettiest cookies, all colorful and cut into different shapes. Her son, my sister, and I sure did want one of those beautiful cookies. We went outside and sat under a big oak tree by the drive way, longing for a cooky. When it was time for refreshments, the maid came out with a small plate of cookies for us. We hoped for a drink too, but the colorful cookies would do, for then. We could go across the street to our house for some water, later.
Phooey! We took one bite, then spit and spit. Those weren't cookies at all, but some kind of fancy little sandwiches that tasted awful. Probably cream cheese or something, but, whatever it was, it was not the sweet cooky that we expected.
We ran to my house for water! And, after that, we were very suspicious of pretty food!
You can see the different stages of my piece of art work about Wednesday cleaning on the slide show in the post below. I started with a pencil sketch showing my mother on her knees, rubbing wax onto the hardwood floor. The dining table is in the foreground with a bowl of meat pie on the table. In this painting, I did a little play with scale and perspective by having the very large green bowl of meat pie close to the viewer, and my mother appearing small against the wide floor. White sheer ruffled curtains drape from the windows and sunlight filters between the blinds and through the open windows and door.
You can see the row of Live Oak trees across the street at my great-aunt's house, and beside the dirt street beside her house. Directly across the street, as seen through the open front door, is the small house that an older couple built when we were a little older. That empty lot gave us an extra place to play before the house was built. A bit of the lawn in front of our house, can be seen through the door and the front windows.
I used splashes of bright pink on the wall paper, but decided that it was too bold and strong. Mama's wall paper was a dainty floral, with a stripe in it. So I used a little white acrylic over the pink to indicate flowers and stripes. That toned the wall paper down quite a bit.
When we cooked, we usually didn't measure. A handful of this, a pinch of that, a dash of the other. Put it in the oven, or on the stove, and cook until it looks right! As a result, we don't have a lot of family recipes written down. But things sure did come out good!
This is how I remember that Meat Pie was made.
Use one Pyrex bowl.
Crumble ground meat between the fingers and let it fall into the bowl.
Finely chop an onion and stir into the meat.
Sprinkle in a little flour to thicken the mixture as it cooks.
Stir in a little salt and pepper.
You could add a little liquid with water, if you want more juice.
(When I cooked this dish, I added a little Worchetershire Sauce, a chopped clove of garlic, and a small section of green Bell pepper, finely chopped. Another variation is to add a can of Cream of Onion, Cream of Mushroom, or Golden Mushroom soup.)
Make biscuits (I used canned biscuits or made them with Pioneer Biscuit Mix) and place on top of the meat mixture. I liked to sprinkle a little salt and pepper, and onion salt on top of the biscuits to give them more flavor.
Bake in the oven until biscuits are done. Follow the directions on the biscuit label or package for baking.
I'm not sure of the amount of ground meat to use. I'm sure that my mother never used over a pound of ground meat. I guess it would depend on the size of your bowl. When I felt generous, I have used two pounds of ground meat, but we usually had to make do with one pound or less.
You may have a similar dish that you like to make. I haven't made this in a long time, but it was something that we had often when I was growing up. Making the meat pie wasn't so hard, but having to make biscuits from scratch was something else. My dad loved it, but my mother was not so keen on all that baking and mess to clean up.
All the ladies were so excited, and my mother was no exception, when they came out with liquid wax and the applicators on a long handle. The paste wax was put away, and the women could now stand up and push the wax around on the floor. And then there were the mops that also came out, with a long handle. I wonder why their knees didn't wear out, in those days!
Let me know if you see something that is of interest to you.

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