First, I wanted to start today with this darling little picture I found in a 32 magazine. I thought it went well with our talk last post about children-sized adult toys. The little washing machines and irons were adorable and practical. And, I might add, that one need not only hope a role of homemaking for their little child to want to instill these skills in them. Even the bachelor engineer has a need to keep his clothes clean, his floors swept, food on the table, and a balanced bank account. Such play, I think, should be encouraged in both sexes because they, the homemakers skills, are a basic skill for all mankind to get a handle on.
This photo shows little Donald with his own wheelbarrow. And while he is having fun and getting to get dirty, he is also learning about the importance of composting and keeping the soil for growing food. Another element to our living is food and surely now it is easily got at local stores. But, as I have been saying, one never knows with our current economy.
And learning to grow correctly is a skill we should all wish to acquire. Pesticides, chemicals and ill planned growing is certainly a bad road. Even the dustbowls of the Depression were largely due to the sudden cessation of old fashioned growing techniques. The hedgerow as windbreak and environment for animals that create waste to fertilize the grown and help carry seed was wiped out. The changing of garden sections to lie fallow and to plant up with winter wheat an the like was abandoned with the new modern means of plowing it all over and knocking down great expanses of land to plant larger same crops. This, when drought arrived and the wind was allowed free reign across the plain, simply took up all the topsoil layers of rich nutrients plant need to grow. And, because of that, many people were homeless and starved.
We need to realize it is a serious business, understanding planting and the earth. If we think to always rely on the store or the large Monsanto breed genetically altered plants we may find ourselves in sore need of some good old fashioned planting and soil maintenance know how. But, I digress. I think it a quaint and wonderful little task for Donald to understand digging in the dirt isn’t just a fun pastime (though surely it is) but is a means to an end to feed oneself. Even if one were lavishly rich and had servants at hand, one should still possess the knowledge of how to care for oneself. The one certainty of the future is its Uncertainty.
Now, to the home cleaning. I have reduced my already small cleaning arsenal from 1950’s. Though, there were many cleaners available, I felt my older homemaker self having lived through the WWII years would have held fast to my vinegar and water, Borax, baking soda and other simple solutions. I did get a push sponge mop that wrings out as I saw them readily advertised in the late 1950s. I often would return to the old reliable cotton mop, though ,as I could toss it in a bucket of bleach and then wash it with my whites.
Now, here in 1933, I am getting confusing and contrasting notions of what one did use to clean the floors of the house. I see vacuums available similar to my 1950s vacuum, so that has remained in my arsenal. I have even added a lovely old wooden push Bissel Sweeper carpet floor cleaner. This is not a picture of my exact one but it is very close. Lovely old varnished wood and it really does a treat of attacking the carpets and floors. I now find myself going for that before I drag out the vacuum. That is reserved for vacuuming day, while my bissel is for everyday. I rather sound like a commercial.
Just for fun: HERE is a great site of a UK collector of early vacuums fun to look at his items.
Now, this ad here from 1930 shows the push scrub brush as an innovative notion. I don’t know if that is true or not. I would love to see how that wax spreader worked, wouldn’t you? So, I am assuming the norm was the old hands and knees approach to cleaning the kitchen floor, so here is what has replaced my mop and by sponge spic n span 1950’s push mop.Though, I saw something similar to thisat our local hardware store. Certainly meant for outdoor cleaning, I believe this might very well be the wonder advertised in my 1930 magazine. It is around $5 today and I think on my next shopping trip it might find its way into my basket.
As I keep doing the math for my own age today in 1933 to when I would have been a young housekeeper, I marvel at how differently I would have done things in the the mid 19teens! With that in mind, I was lucky enough to find this book free online. I am including the link so you can peruse it at your own leisure, but be assured, I shall most likely refer to it again in the future. As it is from 1913 I most likely would have had a copy in my library as my early Homemaker life started out.
Here are some tips in using soap. Right now, for my floor scrubbing, I am using fels-naptha in water as it seems an old-fashioned soap to make into floor cleaner. I slice a piece off, pour boiling water into the bucket and to it add a bit of Borax cleaning powder and mix it all up. This is essentially what I use to make my laundry soap and see no reason to not use it as a general scrubbing soap on floors and counters. I do wipe and rinse well with warm water afterwards.
How to economically use the different soaps available are outlined here . I wonder if this would have been a norm for me in the 19teens. I do, however, strongly believe that I would have had, at the very least, a day girl or one young live in servant, probably a young girl. She may have been a great help on soap making days. I have to say, that I shall indeed try to make these soaps and will share my results with you. I found caustic soda for sale around $6 and put it HERE in the corner store if anyone else would like to try along when I make some soap. I will let you know, as I will need to keep more of my fats from cooking. I do so now, but want to have a separate jar for such fat for soaps as opposed to cooking. I also added a modern Bissell (which is metal) to the shop as well. They run around $20. HERE is the link to the Home Care Products in the corner store. I make very little (sometimes a penny or two sometimes nothing) but I have kept the store open as a resource for any of my followers if they would like to have a go at the ‘old time’ products still available.
Enjoying perusing the online book from 1913. I had planned on sharing the last recipe for Meat Pot Pie but I will be making that tonight for dinner, so shall share the results and photos of that next post. Happy Homemaking.