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Memories


I am feeling like I am outgrowing my little sewing room in the basement, so am contemplating some expansion into other areas of the basement, which involves cleaning out some more old stuff hidden away in various closets and cubbies. While doing this, I am finding some fun old treasures that I haven't seen in years, old diaries, scrap books, pictures, keepsakes...this has prompted me to think of things that I hadn't considered for years. Now that I am "retired," I seem to be finding plenty to do and I have been remembering and thinking about what my Grandmother's and Mother's days must have been like back in the 50's and 60's. Of course, these are MY memories and reality maybe was much different than my perspective.


Let's start first with housekeeping. I remember that my Grandma had a "schedule." There was a day to bake bread, a day to do laundry, a day to iron, a day to clean, plus a daily schedule of routine tasks. I remember a big aluminum pan filled with rising bread dough sitting on a stool over near a furnace vent, She made white bread, wheat bread and I remember also a bread she called graham bread.


She and my mom also did quite a bit of baking. We had molasses cookies, oatmeal cookies and chocolate chip cookies. They had been through the great depression in the 30's and always saved bacon grease and used it as shortening in their cookies. The cookies were always wonderful. Back then, we had more "company." Neighbors would stop in for morning coffee and friends and relatives from out of town would stop by when they were around. I always loved "company" because it meant treats and a chance to eavesdrop on the adult conversation and maybe pick up an interesting tid-bit or two. I remember being sent off on an errand whenever the conversation got particularly interesting.


Our next door neighbor and my mom went freely back and forth between the two houses, swapping news and coffee, ingredients for cooking and recipes. The would just enter each other's houses with a cheerful, "Anybody home?" Then the coffee and conversation were on. Sometimes in the afternoon and evenings, we would play whist, word games or Monopoly. We didn't get a television until I was nine years old.


TV was one black and white, snowy KDIX Channel 2. It began about 8 am with a test pattern and National Anthem, and signed off nightly at 10 pm, again with the test pattern and National Anthem. We never had to decide what to watch or when, I remember Roy Rogers, SeaHunt, Lawrence Welk, Ed Sullivan, To Tell The Truth, Beat the Clock, What's My Line, Palladin, Rawhide, Gunsmoke, Captain Kangaroo and others, When I was 14, I left home to board out for high school in Beach, so then I only watched TV occasionally on weekends and a little in the summer. In college, I didn't watch TV either, because "way back then," we didn't have television in our rooms. I didn't get a TV until about six months after we were married, so it was probably winter of 1971-72. Then again, I think we got two channels and eventually three. Pretty exciting to have a choice! TV Guide was a must!


Back to household chores - wash day was a PITA! The wash machine was a wringer washer in our awful basement with awful stairs, There was the wash machine and two more tubs for rinsing, The final rinse had "bluing" in it which a trace of blue dye was added to white fabric to improve its appearance. I remember having starch in one of the processes as well. There was also a smaller tub off to the side with bleach water and a rigid plunger and/or wash board to treat handkerchiefs, stains or extra dirty stuff. After going through all this, the clothes were carted up the basement steps in a basket to the clothes line outside, where they were hung in a particular manner. Jeans were put into "stretchers" to crease them and hung outside as well. After drying, or freezing stiff in the winter time, the clothes were brought inside. If frozen, they were draped around the house to finish drying. If dry, they were then "sprinkled," We had a pop bottle with a screw on "sprinkler" head to dampen the clothes. They were then rolled up and placed into a plastic bag for ironing the next day.


The next day, we would iron - there was a particular order, which I am not sure I remember exactly, but I am sure there was one. Yes, we had an electric iron! I am not that old! We ironed EVERYTHING but towels and socks. I was not a fan of laundry and ironing days. We have come a long way, baby!


On to cleaning: we would shake the rugs, sweep and dust mop the floors, dust and polish all the wooden furniture, venetian blinds, and knick-knacks. Scrub the floors and clean the bathroom, Oh, and the ash trays! There were always ash trays to empty and wash! I certainly don't miss them!


I don't remember grocery shopping very much. My grandpa worked for the highway department and I think my grandma just gave him a list and when he got to Belfield or Beach, he would get the groceries. Medora usually had a little store where we could get bread, milk, eggs, etc. Grandpa was a great grocery shopper and always brought home little goodies that I am sure were not on his list. Besides candy, he would get pickled herring, pickled pigs feet, and sardines. Lucky for me, I liked all those things, although they are not on my current shopping lists.


This is enough for today, but if you enjoyed my memories, I will write some more the next time. TTFN


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