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Homespun Memories

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Childhood Memories

from Shirley

I was raised in the country (and will always be a country girl!).  We played outside whenever possible, keeping in the mind the rain we get in the Pacific Northwest.  Two neighbor kids were about my age so we usually played together.

We had a "house" in a small clearing and played there a lot.  Rainy day activities could be playing school or house.  If someone got a large box, my
sister or mom would draw red burners with crayons and make a stove for me. Another box would be a refrigerator. 

Sometimes we'd go to one of the local creeks ("cricks") to play in the water, try to catch fish or frogs by hand, etc.

One time we were playing on tree stumps on the hill just behind my friends' house and kept hearing weird noises.  Paul and I thought it was Kathy (a couple years older) just being funny.  That evening, Paul & Kathy's dad called my brother and asked him to come up with his rifle.  He shot a bear in the stump we'd been playing on!  It was making the noises we heard. 

We had bear meat for dinner.  It tastes a lot like beef.  Dad knew my sister (really a finicky eater) wouldn't like it so he conspired with the rest of us not to tell her until we were all done.  She turned all shades of green when she found out it was bear and not beef!

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How OLD are you?

from Mary

My Dad was cleaning out my grandmother's house and he brought me an old Royal Crown Cola bottle. In the bottle top was a stopper with a bunch of
holes in it. I knew immediately what it was, but my daughter had no idea.

She thought they had tried to make it a salt shaker or something. I knew it
as the bottle that sat on the end of the ironing board to "sprinkle" clothes
with because we didn't have steam irons. Man, I am old.

How Many Do You Remember??

Head lights dimmer switches on the floor
Ignition switches on the dashboard
Heaters mounted on the inside of the fire wall
Real ice boxes
Pant leg clips for bicycles without chain guards.
Soldering irons you heat on a gas burner.
Using hand signals for cars without turn signals.

Older Than Dirt Quiz

Count all the ones that you remember -- not the ones you were told about!
Ratings at the bottom.

1. Blackjack chewing gum
2. Wax Coke-shaped bottles with colored sugar water
3. Candy cigarettes
4. Soda pop machines that dispensed bottle
5. Coffee shops with tableside jukeboxes
6. Home milk delivery in glass bottles with cardboard stoppers
7. Party lines
8. Newsreels before the movie
9. P. F. Flyers
10. Butch wax
11. Telephone numbers with a word prefix (Olive - 6933)
12. Peashooters
13. Howdy Doody
14. 45 RPM records
15. S&H Green Stamps
16. Hi-fi's
17. Metal ice trays with lever
18. Mimeograph paper
19. Blue flashbulb
20. Packard's (the car)
21. Roller skate keys
22. Cork popguns
23. Drive-ins
24. Studebakers
25. Wash tub wringers

If you remembered

0- 05 = You're still young
6-10 = You are getting older
11-15 = Don't tell your age,
16-25 = You're older than dirt!

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How OLD are you?

from Juanita

I still have one of the clothes sprinkling bottles.  And I still iron most of the clothes.  I automatically do the laundry every Monday morning, just as we did when I was a child.   I also still like to hang the laundry outdoors to dry but have gotten lazy and use the dryer now. Still have the folding clothesline stored in the garage and drag it out every once in a while. Old habits are hard to break.  I'm really older than dirt, I remember all the things mentioned, plus a few more <smile>

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How OLD are you?

from Jennie

Am I the only one who goes back to "hand sprinkling" all those starched clothes, rolling them up, placing them in a bushel basket with an oilcloth liner and placing a folded towel over the top.  We placed the clothes on the clean kitchen table, also with an oilcloth covering, for the sprinkling process. 

It would usually take me an hour to sprinkle the clothes for our family.  The water in the bowl or pan had to be quite warm and I'd dip and shake first one hand and then the other to get those clothes the right dampness.  They would uniformly "draw" the dampness overnight, then the next day was ironing for most of the day. 

We didn't have an ironing board, so we put folded sheets on the same kitchen table, AFTER removing the oilcloth and the old irons would be put on a rip-roaring fire in the kitchen stove and an old skillet was turned upside down over them.  We always had a special cloth over which we'd make a few strokes with each hot iron, so that no black spots from the stove would be on the iron and get transferred to the clothes. 

I could get about 3 items ironed before replacing that iron and getting another from the stove.  The first item would be ironed as fast as possible to keep from scorching the items, the second was ironed at about the speed I use with my modern steam iron and the last item would take longer to iron as the iron was getting "cold" by that time. 

We didn't use Kleenex in those days, so there were "tons" of handkerchiefs to iron and fold.  We ironed pillow cases, dish towels, you name it, even the underwear.  I hated ironing the overalls that my Dad and Brother wore.  Puffed sleeves were another nightmare.  Remember, we only had a flat surface, the table, on which to iron. 

We also kept a piece of waxed paper to "slick up" the bottom of the irons.  One ran the iron quickly over the paper and it made the iron glide more smoothly over cloth.  Oh, yes, we kept a little bowl of warm water nearby, when ironing, as some spots would not be damp and they had to be damp to get the wrinkles out.  A flip of the hand with that warm water would do the trick.

We didn't have electricity and we heated with wood and cooked with wood or cow chips.  Cow chips made a lot more ash than wood.  I'll never forget the evening I brought in the wood for the kitchen stove and put it in the woodbox.  Later, after dark, I went out on the porch for something and it looked like the wood in the woodbox was on fire.  It was "foxfire," which is a fungus that glows like fire in the dark.  The wood looks normal in daylight, but glows after dark.

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How OLD are you?

from Mary Anne C.

No, you are not the only one who did that.  I did it myself when my kids were little.  I had a pepsi bottle with one of the sprinkle caps on it.  I also did my laundry on Monday and hung them out to dry in the summer, but did use a dryer in the winter. 

I used an old wringer washer and made my second child's complete layette on a treadle type singer sewing machine.  Diapers, receiving blankets and all.  Even little sleepers with the feet in them. Wish I had kept some of them now, but they all got lost in the moving and whatever.

I didn't go so far as to iron pillow cases and things like that, but I did iron all of our clothes. I have cooked on a wood kitchen stove and on the heating stove that we had when I was a teenager. I used to take my baths in the kitchen in an old wash tub because we didn't have a bathtub or a shower.  Our bathroom was only big enough for a toilet. The only good showers I got was when I had PE at school and we always had to shower after PE, before going to our next class.

I remember the little bottles of Coca Cola that we got at the corner filling station for a dime each and the bottle opener on the machine. Before I got my first washer, a wringer washer, I would wash clothes in the bathtub and use a wash board.  I hated that and did not have to do that for very long.  Thank God.

I remember most of the things on the list, so I guess that makes me almost as old as the hills.

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How OLD are you?

from Jake

Yes, Jennie you may the only one who goes back to "hand sprinkling" all those starched clothes . . . . . Ask my wife how it was in the depression days & the story of the "only one" doesn't ring true.

Doesn't that feel good, just look back and say, "Yeah, I remember that!"

Well, I also go back to Those good old days'  ???

When we were living those' good old days' they didn't seem so good. We read by the light of a kerosene lamp and heated our homes with wood. We carried water up the hill to wash with, cook and scrub. And we took our baths behind the stove in a galvanized laundry tub. I can still smell the old lye soap and feel the hurt and sting when some of it got in my eyes, but it really got you clean..

We slept on featherbed mattresses, sometimes three in a bed. If you were late you got the foot, the early got the head. We waded snow and  ice and mud to get to the seat of learning, with a potbellied stove that froze our backs, while our fronts were nearly burning.

We drank from a cup by a water pail on a bench where the teacher put it, and whatever ailments the others had, the rest were sure to get it.

In winter we milked in a drafty barn, while the wind whistled through the cracks.  And the swirling snow, while you were inside, filled up your fresh made tracks. A little house at the end of a path, half-hidden with brush and weeds. In summer's heat and winter's cold it served other family needs.

Now you may look with envious eyes to those things if you are twenty.   But I've been through those 'good old days' and once, my friend, is plenty.

YES I KNOW as I was there.  In those times in SE KS.

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How OLD are you?

from Mary Ann S.

We may have come from different areas but sounds like the conditions were very similar.

We didn't have the snow, but the three mile walk was still long no matter what the weather, school still kept, unless we had that very rare snow.

We raised what we ate,  that was, what we raised from the garden, orchard, the chickens, the cow, and the hog.  There was very little that we had to buy.  Our cloths were made from the feed
sacks.

I guess we could each write a piece of the story that we all lived a
part of, at least those of us old enough to have been there.

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How OLD are you?

from Sandy M.

Jennie, I can relate to the old days too.The old wood stove where water would freeze in the corner of the room. When newspapers were used to stuff in the cracks of the house. When young children had to push a little red wagon (with snow to your knees) to go after a 5 gallon can of fuel oil. Laying sick when there was no money for doctors knowing your siblings would probably be next. Ironing who had anything really worth ironing. Saturdays were for cutting wood not playing. Everyone using the same bath water. And the old outdoor johns!!  And these were the good ol days?

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How OLD are you?

from Mary Anne C.

The pottie was before I married as I lived in Indiana all my life.  We only once during my childhood had an outside pottie.  then we could go in a bucket at night and during the winter, but had to go to the outhouse in the summer.  I hated that.

When I married and my new husband took me to KY to visit his family they had the outside toilet and I was scared to death to go out there.  He always had to go with me.  They had a well that they got their water from.  They did have electric or gas to cook on though.

I didn't mind cooking on the wood cook stove we had in our first little
house.  A one room cabin.  It also helped to heat it. We slept on the narrowest little cot, him against the wall, me in the middle and our baby in front of me with her little bed in front of her in case she fell out of my arms during the night.  She never did though, I held her so close and never let go of her.

Had to go outside there to go pottie too.  I still hated that.  Give me a nice warm inside Jon anytime.

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How OLD are you?

from Mary Ann S.

At least you had a pottie. We had a two holer and a slop jar under the edge of the bed.  We also had the tub in the kitchen for baths.  LOL

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How OLD are you?

from Joy

When my grandmother sprinkled her clothes, she would put them in the icebox (later the refrigerator), and they would all be damp in the morning for ironing. She was always afraid of mildew, she said.

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How OLD are you?

from Juanita

The home I grew up in never had an inside bathroom.  My folks
decided to add one after I grew up and moved away. But after it was built Dad insisted on keeping the outdoor toilet!  He always said "you never know when you might need it in an emergency!"  That proved to be the case several times <grin>. 

The house was sold after my parents died and the new owners remodeled it adding a 2nd bathroom upstairs.  I'd love to hear what my folks would have said about that, after raising the 4 children without anything but the pottie at night and the galvanized washtub for baths in the kitchen (once a week!)

In the 1980's my husband and I bought 85 ac. of timber and a pond and built a small cabin.  It had a combination living and dining area with a corner kitchen, a separate bedroom and a small bathroom with a shower stall and a lavatory.  We had electricity and running water but we never lived there - only used it for weekends.  The ground was too rocky and we couldn't install a septic tank so built an outdoor john......painted it and carpeted it. 

When we sold the place a few years ago the new owners couldn't quit talking about having an outdoor toilet - all carpeted.  I think they were more attracted to that than the pretty little cabin with the enclosed deck overlooking the pond.

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How OLD are you?

from Mary Anne C.

My Grandparents had an outside toilet for a long time.  That was before I was born.  When me and my brother got big enough Grandpa cleaned it up and moved it to another spot in the yard and made us a play house out of it. Minus the pottie holes.  He even put some windows in it for us.

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This page was last updated February 6, 2003.