Sunday, May 04, 2008


My Mother in May and the many hardships she faced.

Sunday, May 04, 2008
Subject: My Mother in May and some of the many hardships she faced.

Hard Time Memories of my Mother and her special days in the Month of May.

May is not only Mother`s day- this year on May 11, 08,
but also my Mother was born on May 14, 1904,
and she passed away on May 10, 1995 , just 4 days before her 91st Birthday.

Hardships were an every day event for most Mothers even up into the `30`s and early 40`s.

My mother was one who did lots of things, a good cook, good housekeeper, knitted, crocheted, gardening are a few of them. Her and my Dad raised a large family during the recession and kept us all well fed and healthy.
I remember one day when she was in her 80`s. I went down to see her and found her wall-papering a room. She was standing up on the step ladder with a full sheet of pasted wallpaper going up over her head and hanging down - both in front of her and behind her. She had an old towel wrapped around her head to keep from getting glue in her hair. I still remember how funny she looked up on that ladder and mostly hidden by the paper. :) ( Maybe I should explain that this :) stands for the smile I have while remembering that day- in case years from now the kids are not still using :) written.) You mostly saw her shoes and a bit of stockings. She was only a little over 5 feet tall and each sheet had to be cut to fit 8 foot tall walls. She had her ironing board open with a cover over it to protect it and that was were she laid the wallpaper while she brushed on the paste. So much easier today with the wallpaper already prepared with the glue backing. But in the 60`s it had no glue on it and you had to take a wide brush and spread on the paste to stick it to the wall. Well, It ended up that day with her putting on the paste and me standing on the ladder and her handing me the sheets which I held on the wall while my mother used her other brush to slowly press down the paper onto the wall, making sure there were no wrinkles and it was real smooth. I remember how we would have to be sure each sheet went on straight, only covering the edge border of the last sheet. Until that day I never realized all the work put into wall-papering a room. She had always done it while we were in school, so it was finished when we got home. Maybe helping her and seeing how much work it took is why I never used wall-paper in my home.

Many time I joined her working in her garden every summer. From her I learned how to can vegetables and fruits. She also made lots of pickle relish and piccadeli . Without looking it up in a cook-book, I can`t remember how she made the piccadeli. When we were younger, she never allowed us to use the oven for fear we might get burnt. Back then our kitchen range was always hot as one side had a place to burn wood for heating the kitchen. I remember that old green and black stove with the top shelf high on the back of it. I remember how she had this empty large coffee can where she poured left over grease. Later she sometimes used this grease to make doughnuts. Today most people would be afraid the old grease would make everyone sick. Funny, we never did get sick from her cooking with it. I remember the long handled pick-up tool that was used to lift the solid top lid that set over the places where you set your pots and pans when cooking. I have a small mineature antique stove like the opne we had. On the wood heating side was another shelf with a door that opened to shovel out the wood ashes. Beside that end of the stove was an ash bucket with a handle for use in carrying the ashes outside. Today I have a large ben franklin to burn wood for heat when the power goes out. I also have one of those ash buckets and once the ashes are cold I dump the ashes into my compost bins to help making doos soil for my flower beds.

When us kids were young, Mother had no dryer and hung all the clothes out on the high pulley line that ran about 20 -25 feet, from the side porch to the top of the garage. I hung up clothes for her many times. Today I still have my 60 foot long clothes line running from my back porch to an old telephone pole and back. I remember her cloths pin bag with the clothes hanger to hang it on a nail, which was later changed to a wooden box my Dad made for her and nailed onto the porch near the line. Her old washer was one with the wringer on the top. I remember watching her pulling those large sheets, gently folding them so they would be small enough to fit the narrow width of those double rollers. I remember her turning the crank which squeezed out the excess water as the cloth went thru between the two wooden rollers. She had a large tub of clean water for the clothes to go into for rinsing, and then back thru the rollers to again squeeze out the water, then into the large wicker style clothes basket, and off to the porch to be hung onto the line. Once they were dry, you folded them neatly as you took them off the line and placed them in another clothes basket, and just filled up the line with the second load. Over and over till everything was washed and dry. Still more work to be done as almost everything had to be ironed and many items required starching. No electric flat irons years ago, the irons had to be heated on the stove and knowing when the iron was hot enough, and not so hot it would leave a burnt spot on the clothes- that took some constant checking. I remember you could put your finger in water and then shake your hand so the water dripped onto the botton of the iron. If you heard the sizzle or saw the water drops bounce back off, you knew the iron was hot enough. I still own 2 of those heavy old antique flat irons. I learned to use them when we were first married. I even burnt a shirt once because I had heated it too long. Totaled destroyed the shirt with the shape of the metal flat iron real black looking left on it. They came in different sizes, small ones to iron into small spots, like the puffed sleeve tops, and the large irons used for larger things. So much harder in those days. Today, we just toss them into the washer and let it do the washing, squeezing out the water, running in the fresh water and again spinning out the excess water, then tossing in the dryer. Then just remove them and put them away. Only special items still get ironed or starched, and not very often. I remember my mother using a soda bottle with a cap filled with holes used to sprinkle the clothes while ironing. No such thing as a steam iron back then.

I must tell about what happened one day when my mother was using the washing machine when the phone rang. The phone was in another roon. She forgot to turn it off, so the rollers continued to keep rolling. A younger sister decided to run some clothes thru the ringers. She was sure she knew how our mother did it. Well, we soon heard her scream and when we hit the kitchen her arm was up in the rollers all the way to her shoulder and her feet were off the floor. It scared my mother so much that without thinking she ran the rollers backward and we watched as my sisters arm slowly was rolled back out ot the rollers. The maching had a clamp that you could unlatch to open between the rollers in case some too thick clothes got caught, but my mother never thought of the latch till later when she had calmed down. My sister never touched the machine again after that.

WOW, does remembering all this make me feel antique myself. We also didn`t have running water when I was in grade school. We had a small pitcher pump sitting on a shelf by the sink where we had to prime the pump by pouring water into the top while we pumped the handle up and down real fast till the water started flowing from the well. I remember- sitting in that old sink was a pail with a long handled dipper. The dipper had a curve on the end of the handle so it could hang over the edge of the pail and not fall into the water in the pail. I remember we all used that same pitcher to drink from and no one worried about getting sick from drinking after each other. There was only one rule, if the water was low in the pail, you couldn`t take a drink until after you pumped the pail full again as water was needed to prime the pump before you could draw more water up from the deep well. If someone drank the last of the water, my father had to go next door to get some water to prime it. At my Aunts farm next door they had an old cistern that was kept full from the rain and it was just covered with heavy sheets of tin. So there was always some prime water available, just a nuisence ( haven`t thought of this word in years), to run next door after it. My mother had to pump all her water for washing clothes and had a tall, very large oval copper kettle with handles on each side which she would fill and heat on the stove when she needed hot water for anything. It was so large that it covered two burners on the stove. There was a name for that huge container, but right now I can`t recall what it was called.

Seems everything I remember was more hard work for my mother. When the well was getting low in the winter, she often filled that huge copper kettle with snow and melted it on the stove. I used her kettle to melt snow and her wash tubs for washing clothes the winter the water line froze up where it went under the road. That water supply was pumped up from a well down over the hill in 1955 when i lived in the farmhouse. drinking and cooking water I carried over from my parents home. Oh yes, Mom also used a scrub board in one wash tub for scrubbing out stains from the washings. Can`t forget that scrub board because she also loaned it to me when I lived in the farmhouse with no running water and no washer or dryer. Then there were the wooden racks that were used to dry clothes on in the house on rainy days. My mother also loaned them to me to use. I still own one of the wooden racks with all the long dowels to lay the clothes over. I probably understood how hard my mother worked better than the rest of our family because I used so many of her old time items years later myself. I even learned to cook and bake on a wood stove, since the first three months of our marriage was spent in an apartment with a wood burning kitchen stove. Many times over the years I would tell myself, if my mother could manage these hardships, then so could I. I couldn`t fail them, so I would just try harder.

My mother was a remarkable woman. The year I was married, she was in a car accident and broke the bone in her arm half-way between her wrist and her elbow. They operated and wired the bone together, but the two bone sections never knitted back together and she spent the rest of her life running a house and raising kids with that broken arm. Dr wanted to take a piece of bone from her leg to try again to get the arm bone to knit back together. I remember her telling me that if her arm wouldn`t heal, what guarantee did she have that her leg would heal. She was afraid she might end up with both the arm and also the leg being messed up. Even with the pain, she still insisted on holding every new baby that came along, the grandchildren, great grandchildren and even a few great grandchildren. As she got older in her 80`s and up to almost 91, she couldn`t hold them for long, but she did hold them the rest of her life.

The more I think, the more I remember. Think I better save the rest for another time as this is already getting too long. Her and my Father certainly showed us a good example and that example has gotten me thru an awful lot of hard times over the years.

A very apt tribute, dot.
Such a wonderful post Dot. Lots of wonderful memories in it and actually quite a history lesson for some.

I think it's a pity that the youngsters today don't hear so much about the old days of struggling. The need to know about it.

Over here, the youngsters hardly meet their grandparents any longer, no time! Such a stressful society we live in, so sad.

If you want to hear about my Mom's very beautiful funeral, you're warmth welcome over as the good friend were to her despite the distance and read my post about it:

Mothers last journey
The women of that era certainly had it a lot tougher than we have it today with all our modern conveniences and yet we still always seem so busy.

What wonderful stories you tell Dot. I always enjoy them.
Great post Dot

I love your stories.
Sometimes I wonder if times are better now or no different.
I know my grandmother and mother, everyone's mother who lived in an occupied country during the war faced many hardships that we don;t have today but we have new things they didn;t have to deal with like AIDS and Drugs.
Religious wars and terrorism.
I guess they had their own terrorisim or a different kind back then.

I guess what I am trying to say is mothers have if hard no matter what the year is.
Dot, we still have the old iron boxes around here, though they are made of brass. But it's used my the man who comes by with his cart to iron our clothes. He uses coal in it. I dry my clothes on the line only. We don't have a clothes drier. When I got married we did not have a washing machine. But then, in our country we have always had house help. More so why I think you are are truly amazing. But reading what you have written about your mother, I guess I can understand where you got it from.
Thanks Jac.I was lucky as neither of my parens drank and neither of them were abusive beyond the normal verbal disagreements most families go thru. Only a couple hurtful times with my mother for me in my whole growing up years and thats not bad when you count the 63 years spent loving my mom. She was a special person and a good mother.
Thank you Life Cruiser. I only knew one grandmother, my Mom`s mother, plus my Mom`s step father was my only grandfather. The others all passed away before I was born. I had a close relationship with my only grandmother, the step grandfather died when I was just 14. I was in my 40`s when I lost my grandmother. I wish all my children had been able to know her. My last picture of her was taken with her holding my twins in 1955 when they were just a few weeks old and my oldest child was only 2 1/2 years old at the time.

Wonderful write-up about your beautiful Mom`s funeral. She would have been very pleased. She was a very special person and I am glad for the privalege of knowing her thru her blog.
Thanks Gypsy, I have tried to visit your blog many times, but it always tells me that to enter your blog requires a special invitation.
I am just glad they didn`t have the drug problems to face along with all the other hardships in my parents time.
Yes Walker, every generation has it`s own type of hardships. Aids is such a terrible disease and I can`t imagine the terrible pain it puts some families thru. I thank God it has never entered my family and pray it never does. I knew of a young lad who died of aids and saw how devistated it left his family. The parents blamed themself for not seeing what was going on and felt they should have know and should have done something. But even his brothers and sister were blind to what was going on. I am sure there are many families feeling this same useless feeling. Then it was drugs in my childrens growing up years and a neighbor found her daughter dead when they got up in the morning. My youngest son had seen a fellow give her some drugs the night before, but he didn`t know what kind they were. He was walking home from the store when he saw this. Turned out the girl was given a bad drug from her friend and it caused her death. The next day they arrested that lad in school and found more of that drug in his locker. I thank God they found it before my kids died from it.
In my growing up years alcohol was the worst problem. There were only 4 of us in my graduating class that didn`t celebrate by heading to a bar. Every generation has some fearsome thing to handle.
I think home life is better today with the more modern equipment to work with, but I think it is harder raising kids today.
Hillgrandmom, the larger oval kettle was made of brass with that rust color and thinking back I think it was called a brass boiler. Sounds like the same one you are talking about. It held a lot of snow when I was melting the snow for wash water and to get the water off the stove, I used to use the long handled dipper to dip it from the boiler to the wash tubs. Took a long time dipping, but way to heavy to lift the full boiler.
When the wheel pully attachment broke on my clothes line, I had a time removing the broken large wheel from the porch to replace it with the new wheel pully. I was so afraid of losing one end of the rope while threading it thru and around the wheel, trying mot to lose it off the wheel pully on the other end of the rope way up on the top of a telephone pole. I still use the clothesline for some items, but use the dryer more, especially in the winter.
Some day I`ll have to tell you about my first washing machine that I never got to use. Today I am spoiled and do very little hand washing- mostly use the washer and dryer. Both my parents were very hard workers and there was no outside help. Most of the material in clothes today here is permanent press and so little ironing is needed. No more being up half the night ironing to be sure the kids had clean pressed clothes for school every morning. This is good since both parents have to work today to meet the bills, so where would mothers find the time for ironing like we did.
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