People were happy then, despite the fact that most families had much less material things. And my mother worked very hard for her family of 7 children.
Between pullovers and knits for boys and cardigans for girls, I marvel at where she got the time to sew and knit as well.
Antique Pedal Singer Sewing Machine
He had an old-fashioned Singer sewing machine that sat on a wrought iron stand with a foot pedal. With this sewing machine, she made simple summer dresses for me and my sisters.
I have often wondered where it disappeared. I would love to have it now. But my mother was not one to hold onto things once they came to use by date, so to speak.
So I would trade the old for a newer model and probably the same thing happened with that beautiful old sewing machine.
Hand washing machine
I remember well our hand washing machine, none of your automatic ones back then. It had a wringer made up of 2 heavy rolls with a handle. When all of the Persil was hand-rinsed under the tap, my mother ran it through this colander to squeeze out the excess water.
Since tissues did not exist at the time, cloth tissues were the norm. However, a large iron basin was used for only one purpose: to boil handkerchiefs and cloth diapers, though not together.
And everything was ironed. As the girls got older, we had to help out with this and other chores around the house. Having said how hard my mother worked, she also took time for herself. She was really quite emancipated.
Although my father had his cam club every Tuesday night, his hobby took up much of his free time.
So most Saturdays Mom would go shopping in town, meet some of her single girlfriends, have tea, and then go to the movies. Dad looked after the children for us during the day.
Maureen came to clean
On Wednesday afternoons, a cleaning lady named Maureen came to clean our house and babysit while Mom went back to town.
Maureen always came in like Mary Poppins with a big black bag from which she would pull out a brown paper bag full of broken cookies. A great pleasure for us, it allowed us to eat as many as we wanted. It was a lot of fun and we love it.
Swimming lessons in the baths
My older sister and I were sent to night swimming classes in winter. Known as “The Baths,” the heated indoor pool was a bus ride into town.
Something else I can barely imagine now is that we two girls between the ages of 10 and 12 took the bus into town for afternoon lessons. I can still smell the chlorine.
I think the lessons were 30 minutes long and it was pretty dark before and after our class. Many times we decide to spend the bus fare on candy and walk home. We could hardly wait for our indulgence after swimming.
Our walk home took about 30 minutes and we never got in trouble because it was faster than waiting for the bus, which also stopped at every bus stop.
We did not know of any danger and no one approached us. Was it a safer world then? I shudder to think of that now.
I don’t remember many birthday parties, but we certainly didn’t feel deprived. The treats were occasional and as good as any party.
Bewley’s Cherry Almond Scones
Before buying a phone, my sister and I herself were inseparable, we often had to deliver messages from my mother to my father in his office in the city.
My memories are of a grand lobby, with a tall, curved reception desk and two lovely ladies serving it. Sometimes we were treated to delicious sweets while we waited for Dad to appear.
When we were much older, we often wondered what was in those important messages. It must have been good news because then he would take us to the Bewley’s Oriental Cafe next door.
Sitting in this charming old diner, Dad ordered the most delicious cherry almond buns, baked only at Bewleys, which is why they became known as ‘Bewley’s Buns’.
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