Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Woman's Daily Life and Chores

Living in Colorado affords the family and myself plenty of opportunities to take a drive through the mountains. The scenery is breathtaking, especially during the fall when the Aspens turn golden-yellow. My favorite part of a Sunday afternoon drive is browsing local shops in small towns. Usually, I'll happen upon books related to traversing Colorado or fiction novels written by Colorado authors. Every now and then, I find something I can use for reference material when writing my own stories; cookbooks with recipes dating back to the 1800's, well-known soiled doves living in and around the Denver area. One book I found had to do with a woman's daily chores and life in the late 1800's. While I'm not sure if these tidbits are true, some are funny. I thought I'd share a few with you here.
The Bedroom--the family bedroom should be on the first floor, if possible, and the head of the bed should face north. The reason being the human head must be in this direction to preserve the circulation of the nervo-electric fluids. The bed shouldn't be made up too early in the morning. Rather, it should lie open to air for several hours. The room should be plain in d├ęcor and consist of simple furniture, nothing more than an easy chair. A chair with a lot of stuffing holds too much dust.
Laundry Day--usually on Monday morning, but preparing the water begins on Saturday. Rain water is best. So is soft water, if you have it. Lay a white sheet on the floor, dump the clothing on top and sort according to dark colors, table linens, bed lines, delicates, flannels and wool. Build a fire Monday morning, heat water in the tubs to a temperature that you feel comfortable submerging your hands in. Use a corn cob to remove mud from clothes, and use a wash board when necessary. Clothing should be hung on the line by 10am. White clothes should hang in the sun and dark clothes in the shade. Men's underwear must never hang beside women's underwear.

Eating--when eating, chew often. Ensure your family thoroughly lubricates their food with saliva for good digestion. No drinking during the meal.

The Kitchen--this is the most important room of the home. Spend your money furnishing this room first. If you have funds left over, spend them on furnishing the parlor. Every morning clean the stove. remove the cinders and ashes, brush inside of the fire box and flues, and brush the out side with a hair brush. Sprinkle salt all over to get rid of dirt. If the salt sticks, use sandpaper to get rid of dirt. Blacken and then polish, because no other item in the home contributes more comfort than the range. To whiten unpainted floors, sprinkle with flour and clean, white sand and let family walk over them, scouring floor boards in white. For the walls, do not paint or wallpaper. Instead, white wash once a year. Whitewash is made up of 8 pounds of whitening and 1/4 pound of glue. Cover glue overnight with cold water then heat gradually until dissolved. Mix whitening with hot water, add glue and stir until thick like cream.

Ailments--to prevent from catching cold in cold months, fold a newspaper and spread across your chest to protect lungs. Having stepped on a nail, tie a piece of salt pork rind on the injury and remain quiet until it heals. To remove a wart, roll up a small amount of a spider's web, place on the wart and set on fire, letting it burn down the wart.

The book I have referenced is:   ...And You Think You've Got It Bad by Barbara Fairchild Grimm. Published by: Pig's Eye Press and available at Barnes and Noble ( I did a Google search and this is where I found it listed.)    


Caroline Clemmons said...

Ugh, I can't imagine having to deal with a stove like that each day. Good information, though, Julie. Thanks for sharing.

Jacquie Rogers said...

I do love my washer and dryer. And my self-cleaning oven.