Pearl Sklapsky-Holben Memoir – written April 22.1989

The clothes line was three strands of wire stretched from a T-pole with long posts propped in the center to keep the clean clothes off the ground when the wires stretched out with the weight of the wet clothes. When dry they were folded up and put away, with the exception of the ones that needed ironing. These were sprinkled, rolled up, placed in the laundry basket and covered with a towel to await the iron the next morning.

The wash water was used to scrub the floors and finally poured onto the rhubarb patch. On wash day, meals were usually oven cooked because the stove top was in use with the laundry operation. The next day‘s task was the ironing.

Sad Irons! The saddest thing about wash day must have been the Sad Irons. No wonder they were so named. You had to have a roaring fire in the stove to heat them, winter time or during the hot summer. Mom used to put the big cast iron frying pan over the irons to keep the heat to them. There was a handle that you clipped on top, to lift them and apply them to the clothing, pushing them back and forth. They were heavy enough to make your arms ache lifting and dragging them over the surface of the clothing.

Mom’s ironing board consisted of a board about fifteen inches wide and five feet long that Dad had shaped at one end so she could iron the shoulders in dresses and shirts. He had bored a hole in the other end so it could hang in the stair well when it was not in use. Mother put this board across four chair backs, arranged two in the center, back to back, and the other two facing each of them. Usually an old flannelette blanket was tacked to this board, but it had to be replaced every once in a while because it would scorch through and make it difficult to do a smooth job.

And Mother insisted on a smooth job. She often said, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” And her jobs were always well done. Mother’s tablecloths and pillow cases were as smooth as glass because of the pride she took in her work. Yes, her ironing was really smooth, not a wrinkle to be seen, and her white things were really white, especially her white aprons!

One thing Hilda wished to have when Mom passed away was one of her white aprons. Mother was a practical nurse, having worked with a Doctor Hudson in Michigan, and she wore her white aprons while attending a patient. Her patients were mostly new mothers. She assisted at many births that occurred in the homes around and in Brock, sometimes without a Doctor as he often would not arrive in time. Sometimes the weather made it difficult for the doctor to reach the mother in time, and usually Mother was there before the expected date to be there just in case. Everything would be in readiness when the time came and Mom always wore her white apron. Everyone in the community and for miles around knew and spoke highly of Mother. She was well respected by all who knew her.

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