Sunday, March 2, 2014

Wash Day in Penrose

This story by Ann needed to be brought to light, so here it is.  I hope you agree!

Dwight's post also suggests we talk about what went on in the kitchen/multipurpose room. Here are some of my imperfect memories. Since this is how I remember it, then this is how it must have been for me.
Saturdays were the most amazing. After breakfast was cleaned up, Mother would pull out the wringer washing machine from the closet, bring in the bench stand from outside, along with the tub that hung on the coal shed. It was used for rinsing the clothes in, once they were done agitating in the tub of the wringer washer. 

I was considered "too little" to be of much help, but I can remember going out to "help" hang the wet clothes on the clothes line. My job was to hand the wet clothes to the official hanger-upper.

When the laundry was washed and all hung out to dry, the washer went back into the closet and the tub went temporarily back outside. Then there was bread to make and sometimes something special to bake for Sunday. 

Cleaning supplies were kept in the kitchen closet and so we would drag (that is how I felt about that job) out the broom, dustpan, dust clothes and dust mop and clean the house. In my memory that was an every Saturday occurrence.

Then, when the day was winding down, the tub that had been previously used for rinsing the clean clothes was brought back into the kitchen. The fire in the coal stove was stoked which made the room toasty warm (most of the time), doors were closed, water was heated in both the water reservoir in the stove, as well as the tea kettle and we would start the round of Saturday night baths. The water got kind of thick as we got towards the end of 8 people, but I remember the water getting changed midway through, which probably meant either the tub was taken outside and dumped and then brought back in for round 2, or some of the water was scooped out using a bucket and then fresh, clean water was added to the tub. When the last bath was taken, Mother, who by then must have been absolutely exhausted, would get down on her hands and knees and, using the bath water, scrub the old linoleum kitchen floor. Regardless of our circumstances, she worked really hard to keep our home clean, as well as our family.

As to Elizabeth's comment about the electric stove, in my memory that was a magical time. I hadn't heard any discussion about what was going on until it happened. The stove was from the Home Ec. building at the high school. They were replacing the "old stoves" with a newer model and were selling the old ones for what must have been a good deal. And moving out of the coal stove meant the well worn linoleum would have to be replaced. I can remember the smell of the glue Dad used to lay down the new flooring, as well as the magic that happened when the wiring was done for the electric stove and it was plugged in. There were buttons on the stove that you pushed for the specific heat you needed on each burner. The buttons lite up in colors, which was "awesome". The clock had a timer on it that worked beautifully until it was struck by lightening. I can't remember who it was, but someone was standing washing dishes when the lightening struck, coming through the kitchen window and hitting the clock. It had a burned mark on it which served as a constant reminder of that event.


Judy said...

I'm glad that Dwight moved this account of the Penrose Kitchen. Ann did a good job with the details.

Elizabeth said...

Not to mention how small that room was - but we filled it to the fullest when everyone was at the table for meals, canning food, cooking meals, separating the milk, etc. Remember how Mother glued plastic place mats in place on the wooden table and then varnished over the whole thing so that they would stay in place? Dad's name for Mother's temporary repairs were "Minnie Fixes". She couldn't wait for Dad to get around to things.