Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A bit more sand

Remember yesterday, I wrote about how my mom would do a spring and fall house cleaning that rivaled anything Martha Stewart could or would possibly require any 'modern' woman to do.

I think I'd like to elaborate a little on those two events.  If you recall I mentioned we would have to take down all the drapes and sheer curtains and launder them before rehanging them.  Let me tell you, those curtains, white, plain white, no ornate patterns woven into them required special treatment.  They were washed in the hottest water imaginable, I'm talking steamy hot.  And, there was of course bleach.  Lots, and lots of bleach.

They would agitate for a while, in a washing machine, that had rollers you had to push the washed laundry through, from there the curtains went into a rinse tub that got rid of soapy residue. They then went into a second tub for a final rinse, that tub water also held a bluing agent that made the curtains even whiter than the bleach.  After that they were immersed into a bath of starch and wrung out.

Now, in our living room coat closet, leaning in a corner, was a box that became quite dilapidated over the years; inside the box was an un-assembled wooden frame.  Each piece of wooden frame held very sharp tacks, sharp point out.  The sole purpose of this frame was to hold the newly laundered curtains.  It was called a Curtain Stretcher.  We would set the Stretcher to be slightly larger in size than the curtains, then, starting on one side of the frame, we'd attach the the curtain by poking it through the sharp tacks, stretching the starched sheers across the frame, one tack at a time.  Top, sides and bottom.  It was very tedious work, and we had to be very careful not to puncture ourselves on the tacks, because if we did we would most certainly get blood on the freshly laundered curtains.  Which would have been bad news, indeed, if you get my drift.

Sheer by sheer we would add them to the frame, then move the frame into the summer sun to let the curtains dry.  Yep, twice a year, faithfully, we would preform this ritual. 

Now, at this point of this blog I began to wonder if I could find any evidence that Curtain Stretchers actually existed.  Guess what?  With thanks to you Internet, and the person who is trying to sell their Vintage Curtain Stretcher in Eureka, Illinois, (good luck with that) below you will see a picture of the device of which I speak. 


It's kind of sad really that some important inventions from yesterday are a mystery to young people today.  I'm sure they have no idea what kind of a washing machine I'm talking about, a washer with wringers?  And a laundry tub...what the heck is that?  And why in the world did we need two?

Oh, and, those wringers...very scary indeed.  You had to be very careful that you didn't accidentally get your fingers too close to them, or you just might find your arm stuck in between them, clear up to your elbow. 

Wait a  minute...I've just remembered something.  Here is a very bad sketch I drew some years ago of my mother's laundry facilities that were in the basement of our house.  This is for the younger readers of my blog, who have no idea what laundry day used to be like.  Each item of clothing was handled individually, seven times, during a laundry day.

These days, you fling the clothes into the washer...when the buzzer buzzes the load is done, and you fling the clothes into the dryer, when it buzzes you fling the clothes into a basket.  Hopefully the clothes are then neatly folded, and put it away into your closet or a drawer until you are ready to wear them again. 

I guess I'm glad I grew up when I did, and even more glad I can share my experiences with my kids and grand kids.  Who else is going to tell them about washers with wringers, curtain stretchers, coal chutes, hay rides, crab apple wars, fishing with a stick, string and an open safety pin for a hook.   How we survived eating huckleberries that grew at the side of the road, even though gasoline for cars was loaded with lead no one can say.  We ate butter by the pound, and red meat on a regular basis...many of us are still here to tell the tale.  My mom gave me melted Vicks on a spoon mixed with sugar for a bad cough, and I've 'walked off' more pain than can be imagined. 
I suppose some of you might be saying, how can I possibly be glad to have grown up when I did, today kids have it great thanks to technology and all.  And, I say good for them.  As for me, let your minds wander to yesteryear, picture me, stretching curtains, and flinging crab apples, running for a free ride on a hay wagon. 
Oh, those good old days, those good old days.  Now you know why I call my blog Ramblings of an Old Woman.  I am, and I do.


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