17. May, 2015

Wash day blues

Many moons ago when I was a little girl and lived with my grandmother in a small wooden house besides the woods, I remember, quite clearly, my dread of Mondays! This was the only day I was happy to go to school so that I would avoid the wash day blues.

     I’m sure my grandmother was trapped in the 30’s, agitating my small cotton dresses on a posser, in an old zinc tub.  Out would come the blue dolly in a special bag to whiten the clothes and those all too familiar soda crystals. Then I’d watch, fascinated, as my clothes were squished through a mangle, to get rid of the excess soapy water. I can only guess now, that prior to this, she would have taken the washing down to the river and bashed them about on a stone! Why we didn’t have an automatic washing machine like my friends, beat me!

     But these wash day blues, did have a silver lining. By the time I arrived home from school, the washing would be blowing in the wind on a long stretch of line. This was tied to a tree at either end of the garden and supported along the way, by long branches. I would always stop and watch in amazement, and imagined my dresses escaping the wooden pegs and flying off on adventures. Oh how I wished I go with them! It always brought a huge smile to my face. But when it rained, things were quite different.

       Four wooden poles set parallel between two metal frames, hung from the ceiling in the kitchen, above the fire. On those rainy wash days, my grandmother would hang the squished out clothes over the poles to dry. Those were the days I liked the least, coming in from school to the smell of  drying clothes making everything feel cold and damp, despite the glow of the fire and a cup of sweet tea.

       But there was always a hearty supper on the table, every day of the week. This is where my love for food began. We never ate ready meals or processed food and I was never taken out for fish and chips or a takeaway. In fact, the first Indian meal I had, was just a few years ago.

       Now, strangely, when I look back at those wash day blues I long for them again. Oh how much my friends missed by not going to school, smelling of carbolic soap!