My work continued at home. I went through our house, sweeping from our girls’ room, which was always the cleanest. My twin bed rested against the wall next to the closet. In that space I was a taskmaster. Renée had her area and I had mine. I expected the bi-fold closet doors closed and none of her toys on my half of the floor. After swishing under our beds, I swept into the living room. Then I covered Mom and Dad’s floor until the little dust bunnies from the bedrooms met the big ones of the living room. By the time I reached the kitchen, the pile was pretty impressive because my brothers must have been allergic to using a waste basket. I ended by sweeping it all onto the original old porch, where I usually filled a brown grocery sack full of school papers, trash, and farm dirt.
Another Saturday ritual in preparation for Sunday was ironing. Our dress clothes had come off the clothesline earlier in the week. Then Mom sprinkled, or dampened them with water, and placed them in the laundry basket. Sometimes we refrigerated the damp clothes, which seems a little silly, but maybe it was to prevent mildew before the ironing.
The Tide box cost less than a dollar for giant size, with its concentric orange cover, guarded the shelf above the washer-dryer combination on the back porch. A woman (or girl) in the fifties prided herself on how white the diapers were that flapped on the clothesline. I loved to hang out laundry and made even corners and straight folds as I took sheets off the line. I remember jeans frozen on the line in winter. Mom hung those because I was in school, and the hiss as they dripped onto the stove as they dried inside later, accompanied my dish washing.
Mom told me in my early twenties, “I never had to ask you to do anything. You did chores and took care of the kids all on your own.” One motivation for my Saturday housework as I got older was for the date who met me at the door off the kitchen side of the house, and who rarely entered. But I felt the house needed to be spotless just in case. With five younger brothers in small spaces there wasn’t much room to put things.
Giggles and squabbles over board and card games made life rich, especially if we were snowed in.