Week 24: #52 Ancestors – Dear Diary
By Eilene Lyon
So far I’ve only come across one true diary in the family, which I wrote about last year in Reatha Gusso, 1932. For an entire year, my grandmother kept a daily journal without missing a day. To our knowledge, it’s the only one she ever wrote.
Since it’s been a while since we heard from Smitty (my maternal grandfather, Laurence M. Smith), I thought I’d share one of his briefer tales from the “early days.” I’m sure you’ll be hankering to go back to those simpler times after reading this!
By Laurence M. Smith June 7, 1991
I remember about laundry soap in the days before “Soap Operas.” Laundry soap was home made and ended up as about 3” cubes. Rather brown and white stained. It was kept on open shelves in a shed removed from the main house. This was necessary because it had a powerful smell. It was like limberger cheese in this way, it let you know where it was.
SOAP TO MAKE
1 ½ gal. soft water (Rain water)
Sal Soda 3 lbs.
Unslacked Lime 1 lb. (Wood Ash)
3 lbs clean grease.
Put the three first articles together and boil to disolve the soda and slack the lime then let settle and pour off the clear liquid and put on the fire again with the grease and boil to proper consistancy.
Soap making was fundamental knowledge for pioneer people, who journeyed across the country to settle in the West. Without soap life would have been less than desirable.
Washing of clothes started with soaking. The night before the clothes were washed they were soaked in the boiler tub.
Wash day started early, by early I mean about 4:00 A.M. A tub of hot water and scrub board were essential.
The cubes of brown soap were applied to the clothes which were then scrubbed up and down on the wash board. After cleaning with soap in hot water the clothes were rinsed in cold water and rung out by hand. They are now ready for the boiler.
The boiler tub is heated on a wood burning range and the clothes are boiled for a considerable spell.
Now, later the clothes are dipped from the boiler with a wooden stick and put in a tub of cold rinse water.
After wringing out by hand the clothes were hung on elevated lines to dry in the breeze and sunshine.
The lady of the house was supposed to get the wash on the line before 8:00 A.M. on a Monday morning. It was a symbol of status in the neighborhood.
All the pioneer women had to do for the rest of the day on Monday was bake bread and clean house. Oh! yes and take care of the kids.