Brev. Brig. Gen'l
- Feb 14, 2012
- Central Pennsylvania
It may not have taken much effort watching that ' home washer ' being put to use, perhaps the point of this advertisement. Like it was easy. Most of our ancestors were the girls using those things. That's a load of sodden laundry next to it and ever hang a wet sheet on the clothes line? It's a small shot of what life entailed, a day in the life of our ACW ancestors.
Here's another. Those are large tubs filled with water logged clothing. It's a workout all by itself you'd pay a personal trainer to put together. It may be a big yawn compared to all the frills, lace and frou frou capturing modern imagination but it's how we lived. We girls were pretty darn tough.
With my daughter out of touch this weekend because the Women's World Cup is being fought, thought I'd see how we've progressed to this point. These modern athletes are incredible, women's soccer such a tough, uber-fast game it's intimidating thinking of a players fitness level. Despite past images depicting we girls as fragile creatures in need of a good male arm to lean on I've frequently thought we'd need the endurance of a half-marathon runner just to make it past breakfast. Between climbing into all that clothing, hauling it everywhere and performing mundane chores like hauling your carpet out to the line and beating it with the tennis racket, you'd need a nap. Not done yet since pumping and hauling water, boiling clothing on the stove then using your new, modern wringer took yet more energy.
Era- and I mean war era publications were filled with uber romances, featuring mythical creatures. Fairies were big. I'm beginning to understand why. Yes, life was ' good ' without being the ' good old days ' we love to idealize but it was tough, too. Who didn't sometimes wish they could fly away?
No wonder Lady Liberty looks so tough. She had to be.
Sure, some of these activities depended on one's ' station in life ', i.e. you had ' help ' if you could afford their services. Ran into an hysterical fitness program for ' ladies ', routines where you'd have achieved the same results by spending time hanging out your own laundry. Or ironing it. Heating up your iron on the stove you kept hot by continually adding logs or coal then using that lump of iron for several hours? You'd pay a lot of fees at your local gym to get that level of fitness.
" The stove that pleases everybody ", note it's wood or coal, both requiring some weight lifting. That's a lot of hot cast iron to navigate while doing it, too.
Day to day life was honest work but illustrates what the word ' drudgery ' means. And exactly why, having survived the epidemics that swept your community, avoided being burned alive when your crinoline caught fire, lived through carriage overturns and gotten through multiple childbirths in one piece women could live until advanced ages. Our family history is terrific, great and great great grandmothers approaching the century mark before God threw in their towels. Nana, my Scots great grandmother and a child of the ACW generation insisted on living by herself in a huge house and hosted Thanksgiving dinner-cooked by herself- until giving in to a broken hip at 93.
From NYPL, note the irons heating on the stove top. We use our antique irons for doorstops for a reason.
It's post-war which means things are updated from that decade. Not a lot! This was a fairly typical home, too, despite our vague ideas of ' quaint '.
Point made, I won't get our a rattan rug beater and bludgeon it to death, it's just something we just don't always appreciate. Who doesn't love Rosie The Riveter's awesome bicep and what she represents? It was genetic.