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Haag, Rita / If you look back, it's not that far: memories of Mary Stella Sutter Haag recorded at age 103

Part I: Growing up in Perry,   pp. [2]-30 PDF (9.0 MB)

Page 3

with an oilcloth, a heavy piece of cloth soaked in oil to make it
waterproof. "Sometimes they'd cut a hole in there (by accident)
and that'd leak, you know, then it wasn't so good anymore, but we
didn't always get a new one."
In another corner was a simple closet where the everyday
clothes were hung. Mary says the living room was plain; there
was no wallpaper, but the walls were painted.
Cooking was simple so most kitchens didn't need a lot of
fancy cookware and utensils. "We had all that heavy iron. One
with a wire handle (stew pot) and an iron cover on top. That was
what Ma used when she made sauerkraut and soup. We had other
kettles, too, and frying pans. We only had one pan that fit the
cover that belonged to the kettle, then afterwards we bought tin
covers that fit anything."
House furnishings were plain. "When I was home we had a
davenport. But we didn't use the living room too much because we
only had heat (in the kitchen) and in the winter it was too cold.
The houses weren't built warm. Not like they are now." She
remembers the time her mother got pneumonia and a bed had to be
made up in the kitchen for her so she could stay warm. "It was
shortly after Herman was born. After that Mother had to be so
careful when she got sick so she wouldn't get pneumonia. We had
a doctor, but what could they do?"
Perhaps the phrase "nature calls" had something to do with
where the bathrooms were located. Some of us remember just
enough about outhouses to feel fortunate we didn't have to use
them often.
"Well, that was hard, some of them had them far away, and
some were pretty close to the house. But was it ever cold in
winter. But then we had what they called the chamber pails--with
the big cover on--that's what we had for nights. We couldn't go
out at night. Well it was snowy you know, and in the morning my
dad used to have to make a road, shovel snow you know, so you
could get there." Young children and the sick were also allowed
use of the chamber pot during the day.

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