Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Monday, September 7, 2009

Jobs I don't recall my mother doing

Today is labor day. We're supposed, I suppose, to be working, or is it not working, but working to honor those who are working or who aren't working. I don't know. I think labor day is a stupid holiday -- especially if you're a woman and have really had at least one "labor" day! If I have the idea of this day correct, we're not honoring all the women who have had an actual "labor" day on this day.

That being said, however, I have always enjoyed having the first Monday in September off from labor, and as I have never had a child born on September 1, I really have had a labor free labor day.

Now to the "jobs" I never saw my mother do.

I have recalled how every Saturday night, after dinner and after the dishes were clean, she would get out her bucket, her scrub brush, put some Pine Sol in the water, and get down on her hands and knees and scrub the kitchen floor. Then she'd go into the bathroom with that Pine Sol filled bucket of water, and as soon as we all had finished with our weekly bath, she'd scrub the bathroom floor, then dump the dirty water from the bucket down the toilet. She'd then fill the bucket with clean water and go back into the kitchen and get down on her hands and knees and wipe up the Pine Sol residue with a clean cloth. Every Saturday night, she'd do this.

But as I became a homemaker myself there were jobs that I had to do over the years that I never saw my mom work on. Things such as: cleaning the exterior of the kitchen cabinets -- because they get greasy; cleaning out the silverware drawer because of the dirt that accumulates in the corner of those dividers, emptying the refrigerator to clean it (she did that periodically with the freezer, but there wasn't automatic defrost back then); wax the wood floors.

There were, on the other hand some jobs that my mom did, that I rarely, if ever did: one that comes to mind is take a spray bottle, or a sprinkler bottler, and lightly spray or sprinkle the basement floor and then broom the floor. The light spray of water was to keep the dust down. I always used a vacuum cleaner to do the basement floor. I guess mom never thought to drag the heavy Electrolux down the basement steps to get the floor cleaned up, or maybe her method was better than mine.

Another job my mom had was on Mondays she would wash clothes, and then as she took them out of the washer, she'd lug them half-way up the cellar steps -- the washing machine was in the basement -- to the exit door, and hang them on a clothes line in the back yard. I never, ever hung my clothes outside to dry because the places we have always lived had "covenants" which prohibited hanging clothing on a line to dry. I miss, still, the smell of a sheet that has hung on a clothes line for half a day. I recall as many of us who were available rushing outside to get clothes off the line if a stray shower showed up. I never had to worry about that, either. Mom finally got a dryer when she was in her mid-50s, but all those years she used a clothesline. Even after she got her dryer, she still hung the sheets out to dry.

Another job my mom had was to make sure the bottom sheets on her bed were tucked in properly. She never had fitted sheets. And I, uneducated as I was when I first married, returned all the fitted sheets I received as wedding presents. I mean how dumb was that? What did I know? So, I guess I can't say that's a job she did that I didn't do, but I didn't do it for very long.

Do you all like the way I keep repeating the same word(s) over and over? It's a new style of writing (lol).

I do remember my mom emptying the kitchen cabinets every year to replace the shelf paper. Do you all use shelf paper? I don't any more. Do they even sell it any where? As I think about shelf paper, I surmise that was mom's method of cleaning out the cabinets, rather than washing them down. Although, in my mind's eye, I see her washing the shelves of the cabinets, just not the outside or inside of the doors of the cabinets.

Well, I guess that's enough reminiscing for today. More to follow.


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