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. -30 PDF (9.0 MB)
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 catalog. 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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