Thursday, October 18, 2012

IGWRT's - Out of Standard with Izy "Laundry Days'

Eero Jarnefelt (1863-1937) Finnish realist painter
(Friday Flash 55 Version at bottom of post)
Laundry Days


Back in the day my siblings and I
risked many a plunge as we draped
upon willow branches above
river's rapid coolness,

while Momma and Rosa Lee,
distracted by fire 'neath the black wash pot,
waited for water to boil, to roll, to add
shavings of lye (cooking grease and ahes),
homemade hand-me-downs to be swirled
& stirred 'round & 'round her wooden paddle,
removing stains, restoring white.

Us young in's helped wring and drape
worn bedsheets and garments upon
nearby barb wire fence and bush,
clothes line up-the-hill seldom used,
as in a hurry we were to return
above spring's swift current

while Elsie May soothed swollen,
red hands at river's edge, and
Momma enjoyed a few minute's
respite in afternoon's shade.


I sit and ponder my daughter's
lamentations of pushing a button,
as grandchildren "safely"
vegetate in front of t.v. screen.

by Margaret Bednar,  October 18, 2012

This is for Imaginary Garden with Real Toad's "Out of Standard: Whirly-gig the Bounty".  We were to ponder the mechanical nature of the modern harvest.  Well, I stretched these rules a bit as I kind of did the reverse...  (Sorry, Izzy!)  My inspiration is from the book I am reading "Last Ride On Chamberlain's Ferry".  The paragraphs I read truly made me stop and think as I had just gotten done with a TON of laundry (and yes, I complained...)

Laundry Days, 1920

Nestled within the willow tree
beside river's rapid coolness, we played,

Momma stirred worn bedsheets, garments,
and lye* with wooden paddle, heavy
in steaming black wash pot,
removing stains, restoring white.

Our turn to wring and drape
nearby barbwire fence and bush
with our few possessions;

Momma at water's edge,
soothed her red, swollen hands.

by Margaret Bednar, October 18, 2012

This is a shortened version of the above, for Friday Flash 55.

*cooking grease and ashes 


TexWisGirl said...

what a great jolt of reality! :)

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh I know, Margaret. My Grandma hand washed (in the bathtub) clothing for five kids, sheets for a household of eight (her mother lived with them) every night by hand. I used to have an old wringer washer too, and babies in diapers - no disposables back then.......crazy to think we complain now when a machine does all the work!

Kay L. Davies said...

I don't remember 1920 (before my mother was born) but I do remember laundry hung on a line, even in winter, when it would freeze.
Yes, I appreciate my "newfangled machines" a whole lot more now. Thanks, Margaret!

RMP said...

you painted such a lovely and realistic portrait of the past; I thoroughly enjoyed the 2010 view of "laundry days."

G-Man said...

Growing up we had a Ringer Washer, and a Clothsline. In the Winter my Grandma treated herself to the Dryer at the new Laundermat in town.
LOved your Olde Thyme 55 Margaret
You paint such a vivid picture of everything you write about...Genius!
Thanks for playing, and have a Kick Ass Week-End

Ella said...

Wow, this really took me there~
We so don't realize how fortunate we truly are~ Your poem took me there!
Great write :D

Isadora Gruye said...

I always love when you toads take liberties with the out of standard prompts: simply that's the very nature of out of standard!!! Here you've made a unique decision in harvesting the wash. I loved the elongated verse, so eloquent in it's tone and visual impact, and of course, backed up by the short modern version. Brill! Viva la

˙·٠•●❤Sh@KiR@ ❤●•٠·˙ said...

Great write. Those old days make our lives seem soooooooooo easy yet, we hate doing laundry even with dryers. LOL
Mine is here

Green Speck said...

You have weaved it so perfectly !!!

Brian Miller said...

can you imagine having to boil your laundry..we are def spoilt by convenience....the push button harvest to vegetate...we teach our kids early you know...its about being entertained...but what happens when it isnt?

Heaven said...

This is a beautiful look back at those days ~ Laundry at those days were really a torture, I can't imagine my hands doing all of that paddling and washing ~

We, including our children, are definitely spoiled these days ~

hedgewitch said...

Yes, the world and we in it have changed a lot since those days. My grandmother had a tub mounted with a hand cranked wringer mangle in the basement of our flat--and indoor clothes lines by the furnace for Chicago winters--but it took her a full day to do laundry once a week--and there was no throwing your clothes on the floor and then in the hamper after one wearing, either, unless you'd gotten them pretty dirty. Now I gripe at my brand new machine because the cycles are infinite and confusing. ;-) Great set of historical poems, Margaret.

izzy said...

Fabulous painting and words! and I love your cauldron for cleaning-
But barb wire is not something I would use, especially given the possibility of rust stains!!!
(No offense on name use-if you meant me, I certainly have no corner on it)

Kerry O'Connor said...

This scene was so well realized - it took me to the place and time of your conception. I felt like I was one of those girls, just off scene, with reddened hands and bent back.

Teresa said...

Both versions are great! It really does put our idea of work into perspective.

Melissa Bickel said...

I enjoyed the long version for the depth and details.. It painted quite the scene.. I remember some of those days as I grew up in the country when I was small.

Your short version for 55 was great too.

Have a fantastic weekend

Herotomost said...

It seems like hard work, and I mean hard work, is a rarity these days especially among kids. Thsi wa a great hisorical painting and social comment extrordinaire.

Daydreamertoo said...

And with all of our new fangled technology, we still think we have it bad. I remember my mother using an old wash machine with the wooden handled wringer on top. Dangerous contraption. But, these women in your poem had a much harder life then. I cannot imagine how frozen their hands and fingers must have been. Great pieces Margaret.

RYN: Not being American, I am staying neutral but, your politics does affect the world stage too. I just think it's sad that now, it all seems to be about opinion polls and more Hollywood theatrics and performances than it does about the real issues. I just posted that for fun not to make a statement

Karen S. said...

Lovely writing! We have to see clearly in your superb photo, that although their wash day was hard, just imagine the beauty to enjoy while out amongst the day!

Alice Audrey said...

Makes me really, really glad I don't live in the "good old days."

lime said...

if only people knew how easy they really had it for certain chores. very evocative 55.

happygirl said...

I do say a little prayer of thanks when I use my HD washing machine. I don't think I'd do laundry as often if it was like the olden days. Great write.

Other Mary said...

I really like both versions. In the longer one I like the final comparison to laundry today, but I find the 55 had an immediacy to it. Kudos.

PattiKen said...

How spoiled we are! I can only imagine how difficult our grandmothers must have had it.

Hannah said...

Perspective indeed!! Great to put ourselves in these shoes when we're feeling over-burdened, I think. Great capturing of image and olden times, Margaret!

Susie Clevenger said...

This brought back such memories...I grew up in a house that had running water and electricity but no bathroom. We did our laundry in an outbuilding where there was a ringer washer and we hung the clothes to dry on clotheslines.

Ginnie said...

Those really were the days, weren't they! :)