From Peggy Regehr
Speaking of diapers, how did our ancestors manage
without running water and easy access to hot water for washing clothes?
There are three young children in my little family, and we do a
minimum of two loads per day. It must have been brutal drudgery
for our grandmothers, g.grandmothers, etc. I don't imagine that
our fathers (g. fathers, etc.) helped out too much in the diaper-changing
area. Or am I wrong?
Let me give you several examples from my own experience
of how clothes were washed. When we were first married we lived
in a rural school teacherage in which we had two tiny rooms and
elecricity but no running water or indoor toilet facilities. And
our first child was born there.
We hauled in the water from a well with a bucket,
put it in a big copper boiler on the wood stove to heat it, put
the water in the washing machine (yes we already had an electric
washing machine with an agitator and a wringer), put in the clothes
and let it wash till clean. We then put the rinse water which was
in a large metal wash tub. After rinsing we put the clothes through
the wringer again and then hung them outside to dry (summer and
winter). And - VERY IMPORTANT - we used the same wash water and
rinse water for the next load of wash. That is why one always started
with the white wash first and ended up with the dark clothes. And
then we carried out all the water.Now this was a real improvement
over what was done at the farm at my aunts place. She had a "stucksel"
washer - one with no electric motor but a handle on the outside
that was used to agitate the water and clothes in the machine. This
was done by hand, and children were frequently used to help in this
manner. In summer the machine was taken out of doors and in winter
it was done indoors. And before that clothes were washed on a wood
and metal washing scrub board.
With those kind of washing facilities, let me assure
you that women worked very hard at toilet training their children
at a very EARLY age.
We've come a long way, baby!!!!
From Duane Goertson
We have indeed come a long way. An example from
our own experiences comes from a time when as a "telegrapher" at
an small, northern railway station we lived in a 3 room cabin that
was situated about 15 feet from the RR tracks, 40 feet above the
lake level with a steep path leading from the cabin to the lake.
Incidentally, the complete cabin would fit inside of our present
"family room" quite comfortably.
Our running water was my wife, Martha, with a bucket
in each hand running up and down to bring enough water to fill the
galvanized "boiler" tub to heat the water on a very modern (at that
time) electric hot plate (2 burner) to do the washing, using a washboard
as described by Peggy.
We felt very lucky to have the use of a hand operated
wringer to wring the water out of the clothes. (I was working about
14 hrs. a day if you wonder why it was not I who was doing the running.)
With 3 children, 2 in diapers you can well imagine her efforts -
they were herculean indeed.
Some years later we returned to the same station,
this time I was the RR Agent and had a house supplied complete with
an electric washing machine & running water (pumped from the
same lake). Modern conveniences are certainly good to have!