My son goes off to college in two short months and the time has come for him to cram in a summer semester of "Domestic Duties 101." Tackling the task of learning to do laundry with him reminded me of an article I recently read in our collection of archived monthly newsletters. My son may grumble about doing his laundry, but the pioneer women had a real reason to dread this manual task.
"Washday blues" was gradually made better as the manual labor of cleaning of household linens and clothes improved when machines took over the physical labor of washing clothes. Until then, washday was an all day manual job. The following "receet" (recipe) for "Grandma' s washing" has been passed down to us and shows what the standard washday procedure was for the early pioneers.
"Grandma' s 'receet ' for washing
"Bild fire in back yard to het kettle of rainwater.
Set tubs so moke won' t blow in eyes, if wind is peart. Shave 1 hole cake of lie sope in bi ling water.
Sort things, make 3 piles-1 pile white, 1 pile cullards, 1 pile work britches and rags. Stur flower in cold water to smooth -then thin down with biling water for starch Rub dirty spots on wash board-scrub hard, then bile.
Rub cullards but don't bile. Just rench and starch.
Take white things of kettle with broomstick handle-then rench, blew and starch. Spread tee towels on grass.
Hang old rags on fence.
Scrub porch with the hot sopy water Pour rench water on flower beds Turn tubs upside down.
Go put on clean dress-smooth hair with side combs-brew a cup of tea-set and rest and rock a spell and count blessins."
Teaching my son laundry one hundred years ago would have required much more than which settings and buttons to select. As for "counting our blessins." I, for one, most certainly do! This interesting insight into the life and times of pioneers originally appeared in the Johnson County Museum of History' s "Nostalgia News" newsletter from April 1978 and was penned by Verne Vandivier in her regular post " The way things used to be." These newsletters are archived in our collections in the Historical Room. If you have a minute, "set and rest" and read through these and other interesting stories life in a simpler time of our past.
Join us for another interesting conversation group meeting Tuesday, Aug. 1 held in the Historical Room. We have been fortunate enough to have very interesting guest speakers, who have been gracious enough to join our group every first Tuesday of every month.
Pam Caito is the assistant to both the Historical Room and Marketing and Communications Department. She believes history connects the past and the present to give us a feeling of being at home. There are places and activities right here in Johnson County that help us to step back in time for relaxed, off the grid adventures. Email Pam at firstname.lastname@example.org.