My Grandmother's Ways.

This is my Grandmother, taken on 27 September 2004. She was 97.

 She turns 100 on the 15th July 2007.

She lived on her own at home up until 2 months before her 100th birthday. I love this photo because if you look closely she is taking the tomato seedlings inside overnight.

These are some of the notes I took when asking my Grandmother about her life. She lived on a property near Dubbo in Western NSW. If you remember the show "Outback House" that screened on ABC, my Grandmother's house was in that region. The house was also situated quite near to the property at Dundullimul which is now a national trust property. You can check them out here.

Here's how she described her morning. ( Forgive the grammar - it's typed as is ! )

" I’d wake up get dressed go to the toilet – which was up the paddock , come back and wash. The first thing you would do was make the fire in the stove and put the kettle on, cook some porridge or rolled oats or something. If we had fresh meat we would fry chops, lambs fry and eggs with a cup of tea. Then go and milk the cows – all four of them. You’d get a couple of kerosene tins full. We’d keep about a gallon out a day for cooking, drinking etc. The rest was separated to make cream and both milk and cream would be put on and boiled and left to the next day and churned for butter ( kept in a cool place). We had no fridge but we had a cooler. It was on the back veranda in the shade. There was Hessian on the side. It was standing on four legs and inside it had shelves. We used to keep the meat there or corn it.

Next, wash up the breakfast things. There was no running water. In 1936 when the house was built we had two tanks onto the house – 1000 gallons each that was used for everything. There was one at the bathroom and the other for the kitchen. We never wasted water. If we ran short we used spring water. – carried in buckets until we got a windmill that used to pump the water and pump it up into the tank. We got the windmill in 1938/ 1939 it was a southern cross. We also had pipes from the windmill to the garden and we had a thing to put the hose on and we had to leave the tap turned on all the time. Even if the windmill was turned off it would still move and dribble out water.
To wash up we had a fountain sitting on the stove, like a great big cast iron tea pot – it probably held about 3/4/ gallons. Half of it was on the hob ( brickwork around the stove) to keep it hot but not boiling. The teapot was also there.
We’d use that to wash up. When we came to Tanners Creek we had a cast iron sink like the one here. We had a drain that went down to the bank of the creek.

Next I would probably bake cakes for morning tea – for the men on the property. Then we’d have a hot meal at the middle of the day. I had a square dish about 15 inches squares. I used to make a sponge cake with six eggs 2 cups of sugar 2 cups of flour and baking powder because there was no self raising flour. You’d beat the eggs into a froth with the spoon. One day I got a hand beater and would use that. I’d cut it in half and put some jam – whatever we had and make a sponge roll.
The jam was home made. I’d buy a 70g bag of sugar and make jam out of whatever fruits was there – peaches, plums apricots, grapes, strawberry, passion fruit.

Washing Day

Sometimes twice a week or once a week depending on how many dirty clothes.
When the boys starting growing up I’d wash 6 shirts and they were starched. The trousers then you didn’t wash them – just sponge them down. They came home in good clothes The working trousers were similar to jeans. They used to call them ……. Dungarees it’s a bit heavier than denim. It was work clothes.
You’d soak them in the tub and get the washing board and scrub them . Each man would wear 3 sets of clothes each week.Get two days out of each set of clothes. They had athletic singlets and real old blokes had flannel shirts.

So on washing day there were 2 sets of clothes per person 3 sons and a husband plus their good shirts and white singlets or navy blue singlet.

To wash the clothes you’d scrub them, then boil them then rinse them if you didn't have a wringer you’d ring by hand. I can remember we had the clothesline between two trees. I remember one time the clothesline broke. All the clothes were filthy again. I had been wanting a proper clothesline for a while. There was a fair space of ground at the back of the house where nothing was growing. I measured where he had to put the line. I made it triangular to dry whichever way the wind blew. When we got a rotary clothesline it went in the centre.

The sheets were all done on the same day. I mostly had a spare pair of sheets for each bed.
There was also tablecloths etc to wash.

Washing day was always Monday. Old Mrs Wales used to say “if the washing is not done on Monday, the ironing on Tuesday the week’s gone and nothing done” that was the way of the old people back then.

If it was raining ….. you had a veranda you’d wash the important things and hang them.

Tuesday was ironing day. Take all the clothes of the line and fold them up. The clothes were kept in a cane basket. You’d have an ironing blanket or ironing sheet and put in on the dining room table. You had three irons – iron with one till it got cod and then get another etc. We then got a petrol iron which you’ d pump up.

Sometimes I went up to the sheep yards and things didn’t get washed up. Sometimes you had to leave things. One day someone came unexpectedly and I hadn’t done all the ironing and they had to have un ironed pillowcases. I felt so ashamed.

When I worked out in the paddocks I wore Jim’s pants with a belt on – his waist was twice as big as mine. "


Minni Mum said...

Wow, I am so impressed that you took the time to record your wonderful grandmothers thoughts, and thank you for sharing them :-) I often think of my no-nonsense farming (maternal) grandparents and wonder what they would think of my life - I suspect they would think I am lazy, LOL. Certainly puts my life in perspective.

Rhonda Jean said...

Thank you for sharing your granny with us. I could relate to a few things she did as I remember things like washing with the wringer and starching clothes as I was growing up.

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