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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 18

It's difficult to imagine today's woman without at least one
pair of slacks or jeans in her wardrobe. When Mary was growing
up, pants for women were unheard of. When asked if she wore
skirts all the time, Mary said: "Oh yah, nobody wore them things
like nowadays."
Although it seems that it would have been difficult to do
all the work they had to do while wearing skirts, Mary and women
in her day knew no other way. "Well our skirts were always full,
with ruffles on, you know." She said the full skirts made it
easier to move around. "You have no idea how that was, that was
so different. Oh I remember when they come with the slacks.
When the women wore slacks, my dad thought that was awful, that
the women started to dress like the men.
"If he'd see now, they don't dress hardly anything... like
you go bathing (swimming) and all that in. They had bathing suits
in those years too, but they were all covered up."
Mary remembers that her mother made most of their everyday
clothes, but the good clothes, like suits, were ordered from the
Laundry time, as Mary remembers it, was a real chore. "Once
a week we did the laundry. First at home (we just had a)
washboard." They filled up a big wash kettle with water and put
it on the stove, and badly soiled clothes were scrubbed with lye
on a washboard. Clothes they needed for the next day were hung
by the stove, since they didn't have that many dresses, just two
or three. Other clothes were hung on the line.
They had to iron pillow cases and other things. The iron
was literally a large, heavy piece of flat iron that was put on
the stove to heat, so ironing was done with a potholder. Mary
remembers: "Sometimes they'd get burned but they were careful."
Washing machines were a great time and labor saver, although
the early ones were not at all like the automatic wonders we have
today. "My dad got a washing machine. And there was a big wheel
on it and there was a little handle on it and you turned that.
There was a wringer on there. We used that and that was great.
By hand, to wring, we didn't get it dry. Overalls and all that
stuff took a long time to dry. When we put it through the
wringer, in a day we could dry everything.

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