When I went to high school, the girls did Domestic Science which included Laundry Lessons. The boys did Woodwork. At the time I didn’t see that I was being programmed to be a wife and mother, chained to the house with domestic duties. Later on, I “discovered” the gender issue. On that, I might write later.
I loved “Domestic Science”. It was once a week, and we turned up at school with a cane basket with our apron, cap and other goodies that were required for the day’s lessons. I loved cooking classes and had a ball doing them. I also was interested in all the other lessons. Yes, there was laundry lessons and housework to learn. I enjoyed it all. In some ways, I suspected that would be my life if and when I was married.
It is not something I recall thinking about. I longed to be a teacher, although that didn’t happen for many years, I don’t recall thinking much about life as a “house-wife”. My mother never worked after the children came along. She and Dad were in the Army when they met and married. After Mother had become pregnant, she left the Army and never worked for money again. She was a good community worker, though – mainly the church and Girl Guides.
As it turned out, I did Nursing and married after graduation, and then worked on and off for the rest of my adult years until retirement. I was always grateful for my Domestic Science lessons, though.
Like her Mother, my Mother worked to a plan. Washing Day was Monday. We always had a Roast Dinner on Sundays. Mainly fish and chips on Fridays. Always meat and three vegetables. Mum and Dad worked in our garden regularly and produced much of our fruit and vegetables. There was a routine that we all knew.
Life in the 50’s
At that time of course, when my sister and I were small, things were very different. We’d moved into a brick house in Adelaide that our Father built. We did have an indoor toilet, but no refrigerator. An ice chest kept our food cool, and the Ice man delivered blocks of ice twice a week. The milkman came with horse and cart and left the milk in a billy can at the front gate. The postman came twice a day on his bicycle. Never a lady postie!
The road in front of our house was not sealed – in fact, it was a boggy dirt road. There were no supermarkets – we’d walk to the end of our street where there was a grocer, green grocer and butcher.
Our washing machines were a little primitive. The washing was sloshed around, and then we’d have to put it through the wringer and then hang on the long line with wooden dolly pegs. Later Mother would bring it in, and much of it would have to be ironed as there were no synthetic fabrics then. If it was wet we’d hang the washing in front of the open fire.
These days I have a modern washing machine that does my washing “automatically”. I press a few buttons, and leave it until I hear the “finished” noise. Then I hang my washing on the line if the sun is out, and on a rack in the loungeroom if it is raining. (I avoid doing washing when rain is about!) Later I bring the washing inside when it is dry, or at the end of the day. Sometimes I need to “air” it if it is damp. Mostly it is neatly folded and put away. I do little ironing. Many folk these days would just put the washing from the machine into a dryer.
The Neighbours Washing
It keeps me amused. I have had several neighbours over the last four years, but the last two groups of tenants have provided me with much amusement.
The clothes are put on the line in such a way that it might take days to dry. Doubled over, one peg in the middle. Other washing over the top. But the big thing for me to laugh at is that they leave it on the line for days. Weeks in fact. Despite the odd way they peg it on the line, I suspect it does dry. But they don’t take it inside. Then it rains. It must dry. Then it rains again.
There are clothes of all sorts – men’s, children’s, towels and more. Just hanging for days and weeks.
Maybe they need Laundry Lessons!!!