Wash Day

Because of the water situation, wash day was a big time event.  After I was about eight years old, assisting was my job.  I would go to the spring area, since we washed at our water source.  I would fill the wash pot and build a fire so water could be heated.  There were two washtubs set on a wood frame.  After getting the pot going, I would fill each tub about two-thirds full.  My mother would, after doing the house chores, bring the dirty clothes to the wash area.  Using lye soap, which we made, and a rub board, we would begin washing in the first tub.  Extremely dirty items were put in the pot to boil.  A wash stick was used to stir the clothes in the pot.  After rubbing the items on the rub board in Tub 1, they rotated to Tub 2,  there they were rinsed to remove the soap.  After rinsing, they were twisted to remove as much water as possible.  Then they hung on the clothesline to dry.  Since I could not reach the clothes line, my job was to hand the items to Mother.  She would fasten them to the line with wooden clothespins.  She always counted the the pieces, and I can remember Mother saying we washed 128 pieces today.

In the summer, the drying process was fast and easy, but in winter the items would freeze, lengthening the drying process.  I can still remember the wonderful smell of sheets and pillowcases dried in the sun.  After the washed items were dry, they were removed from the line and carried to the house.  At this point, they were folded and separated,  but many needed starching and ironing.  The irons were solid steel with a handle on top.  They were heated on top of the kitchen stove.  When hot enough, they were removed with a cloth over the handle to prevent burning the hand.  When my two sisters grew enough to help, I no longer participated in the wash process since I could be better utilized as a field hand.

The wash process continued unchanged until 1947 when electricity came to the area.  Two treasured items I now have are my Grandmother Weems' iron and our own family's wash pot.

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