I realize that we cannot jump into a time machine and send ourselves off to the past but if we could I would do so.
I am so thankful that I was born in an era that life was more simple. People rarely locked their doors, my brother and I played outside with our friends until we were called in for supper.
We ate home cooked food and we sat at the table to eat that food. We washed up before supper and we said prayers before eating. Table manners were very important and leaving the table before others were finished would have never been allowed.
A formal table was often used for eating. I don't think I ever remember eating our meals without a table cloth. I still use tablecloths today as well as doilies all around the house.
I read a post from someone that said her linens always smell musty and she remembered that her Grandmother's linens always smelled so fresh. She was wondering how her Grandmother would have kept her linens fresh. Due to that post I decided to do a page on Housework from the past.
In the past if you were washing the dishes, the floors, the windows or the baby just simple soap was used. Now many of our cleaning supplies are toxic, we have toxic cosmetics and so many things in our homes that it is seems almost impossible to get our homes cleared from these unwanted chemicals. I am very upset about how many toxic chemicals our children are being exposed to every day. But we can do something and that is to try and go back to basics as much as we can for the sake of our children, our Grandchildren and our children to come.
We did not have computers, cell phones or electronics as we have today. For those that did have a television there was only limited time spent sitting around a tv. I believe that today we are distracted by these things and that makes it more difficult to keep a house in proper order. In all fairness, many people had hired help in the past and many families lived close together and helped one another. Today, families are spread apart and having hired help in the home is not as common as it was in the past.
My Mother would always keep the linen closet orderly and it was always lined with paper and the clean sheets would never be placed on a non papered shelf or drawer. When I became old enough to iron, my mother would give me the pillow cases and the handkerchiefs to iron. One of my other chores was folding the towels, wash cloths and socks. She taught me the proper way to do this. My Mother was not fond of housework but she was very particular about certain things and crisply ironed sheets and pillowcases were the top of the list.
This photo is so faded and spotty but I still wanted to post it because it was my Grandmothers bedroom.
Back to ironing.....
Before ironing we would first sprinkle the clothes with water and then roll them so that the moisture would even out in the garment. The last time I looked, Lehmans online still sold the sprinkler that goes on top of a glass bottle. In the old day they were metal but I think they are now plastic with a cork.
Dusting was done regularly and items were removed from the shelves then dusted off and replaced on the clean shelf or area from which it came.
At our house floors were given a heavy cleaning regularly. They were swept, mopped and the rugs were taken outside to shake off and air. This type of cleaning was usually on Saturdays so everyone could pitch in. During the week we swept and lightly mopped in between.
Windows were cleaned inside and out several times per year. The window seals were also washed.
We had what they called a whole house attic fan. It was built in the ceiling, and the fan was actually in the attic and the grill was flat on the ceiling. We would crack open the windows and the fan would draw the air from the windows and up and out of the attic. I believe we had more fresh air in our houses back then. Some people, more in the northern part of the USA still have these types of house fans.
Curtains were washed and ironed and placed back up when the windows were washed.
Handmade sachets were handmade and filled with dried herbs and flowers then placed around the house such as in drawers and closets to keep things smelling fresh. Lavender was very popular and rose petals. My mother prefered rose petals.
This was my Grandmothers living room, the black and white photo makes the room look bland but it was actually pretty. I tried to find a picture of our livingroom but I could not find one.
So now that we touched on the past, I wish to address the lady that posted that her linens smelled musty but her Grandmothers always smelled fresh. So how did her Grandmother get her linens to smell so fresh. First the big question that I would ask is what were Grandmother's sheets made from? Probably cotton. Have you smelled today's fabric? Most fabric is a blend of things and some sheets smell just awful to me. The other probablility is the soap she used and how it was dried. Did she hang them out on a clothesline? Another possible reason Grandma's sheets smelled good is the way they are stored when not in use. Probably not in a overstuffed closet or drawer. Then the big factor is how often the sheets are washed. If you don't wash your sheets at least every week then they will build up an odor and this will be difficult to get out.
I want to say that I lived in two different era's. When I was young I grew up in a big city that had electricity, party line phones, and even washing machines. Then my parents went separate ways just before I was a teen. My Mother and I moved to the deep south. Many people did not have electricity, running water or bathrooms. Life was very very different. Things that had been common to me people had never used. They called me a northerner and thought I was very different from them. I must say that they taught me a lot. I married at a very young age and we did not have a washer. Back then most houses were not plumbed for a washing machine. Dryers were still something that would come much later. I am glad that I had to hand wash and dry our clothes on a line so I could learn this skill because this is for sure a skill to be learned.
I will be leaving this era and moving on to cleaning like the past but doing it today.