I Remember When
Contributor: BlantonRoots Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
I REMEMBER WHEN
Our homes were made of logs and the cracks were filled with mud. The roofs were constructed of small poles, then a layer of straw and an outer covering of dirt was put on top of the straw. Every summer there was a weed garden on top of the house. Often during a rain storm dishpans, cooking utensils and buckets were placed at strategic places to keep beds dry.
Inside the house the walls were white-washed with a mixture of lime and water. Sometimes the floors were just plain old mother earth, and sometimes they were made of rough boards which became smooth with wear. When my mother could accumulate enough old rags, she would weave a carpet for our home. When it was ready, a layer of straw was placed evenly on the floor, then the carpet was stretched tightly over the straw and tacked down.
Candles for lighting the home were in common use. Kerosene or coal oil was considered a luxury and was used only on special occasions, and for church activities. Later when kerosene was used all the time, it was a hateful chore to clean the chimneys, trim the wicks, and fill the lamps every day. Often people resorted to a witch light which consisted of a saucer, a rag, and button in grease. I well remember living for some time just under a big ledge with the ledge for a roof. I remember my sister Celestia taught me to knit while under this ledge, esp. when it rained we would go inside and busy our fingers with knitting. When it was not raining, we all had to be out herding cows or working on the farm. Father always had a farm.
The family laundry was always done on a scrubbing board made of copper or brass. The white clothes was scrubbed thoroughly, then put into a boiler and boiled real hard. Then they were, taken from the boiler and rinsed good, then put into a bluing water and rinsed again. Then they were hung out on fences and brush to dry. If the water was muddy, we would put ashes in it and let it stand until it was clear. Homemade soap which my mother made from fat and greasy meat was the only soap we had. Mother would, often stand and work all day over a kettle of boiling soap. They did not make it the easy way that they make soap today.
The ironing was done with three five-pound irons called sad irons. They were heated on the kitchen range and used one at a time and reheated as they used another one. Those irons were also used to warm and wrap in rags and put in the beds to keep us warm during the long winter nights.
As we couldn’t buy yarn in those days, we children use to go out and gather wool that had been pulled off the sheep as they crowded through barbed wire fences and brush. We would take it to mother. She would wash it and care it into rolls, then spin the rolls into yarn, and then we would use it to knit stockings, garters, sweaters etc. end especially nice warm mittens to wear on our hands in the cold long winters.
Mother got a start of yeast from some place. She would make a batch of bread with it leaving a start, then she would make more using the start to make it rise. I remember mother at one time for a long time would make big batches of this yeast and all our neighbors would come with a little sugar, flour, or hops and would trade it for yeast enough to make their bread. We had to see that someone was home at all times so people could get yeast. They came mostly in the evenings as we use to mix our bread in the evenings and let it raise until morning.
In the winter, it took most of the day for us to chop wood and carry it into the house in order to keep a good fire to keep the house warm. Then there was lots of ashes to carry out and that was a job we all disliked. Then there was the job of hauling the water from the river on a forked tree branch called a lizard. We would have to chop a hole in the ice to get the water. It was a cold hard job. I remember my brother Deuvaldia and myself usually got that job. Sometimes we nearly froze, especially when our barrel tipped over coming up the hill from the river bed and this would make the road slick and hard to climb. We had to haul it for our cattle as well. I remember in the winter our door step was always slick from the water that had been thrown out from our wash basin when people used it. Always more than one person would wash in the same wash water for it was scarce and hard to get.
We would always catch the nice soft rain water when it rained to be used in washing our hair and the baby clothes. It was always an exciting time when the baby was to be shortened. The baby wasn’t made shorter but just the clothing.
When a baby was first born, they would be dressed in long clothes reaching down over their feet. Then, when it was a few months old, it would get a set of shorter clothes reaching around to the ankels. This was always a great day.
When the oil cloth table cover was set for a meal, the plates were all turned wrong side up until after grace was said. Perhaps this was to prevent dirt from falling into them. Then to the chairs were turned with the backs to the table until prayer was said. I don’t know the reason for this.
Since there were few if any doctors around, the following medications were used. Golden seal, for canker, mustard plasters for colds and pneumonia, ginger tea for a stomach ache, camphor for headaches, kerosene mixed with sugar for croup, sweet cream for face and hand lotion.
If there were any virtues coming from the good old days, it must have been from having a fine home life. There weren’t any places to go so the family worked, played, and prayed together. Juvenile delinquency and divorce were seldom if ever heard of.
I’m not sure who wrote this, but it sounds like it was a sister to Celestia and Deuvaldia DURFEE. Possibly Vilate wrote it.
Retyped by Monica Durfee Anderson, 2014