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Washing Day 1

Granda's long sleeved body shirts and long linings (underpants) took a long time to dry.

In the corner of the yard was the wash-house with a galvanized tub with poss stick for washing, a bench for scrubbing and a set-pot built into the wall. This was for boiling the clothes. It had an open fire underneath and we would carry a shovelful of burning coals from the fire to get it going. Clothes washing was a very hard task and took up the whole day. Without fail, every Monday was washing day.

The water was heated in the boiler and poured into a huge galvanized tub. Clothes were ‘possed’ in this using a poss stick, which was a heavy wooden stick with three prongs on the bottom. The soap used was green household soap, which had been grated into the hot water. All white clothes were boiled for about fifteen minutes and just about everything was scrubbed on a solid wooden bench. A large mangle with rubber rollers squeezed out the excess water. This was turned by hand. When the weather was inclement, clothes were dried in the house. My Grandma had washing lines strung across the room. We also had a clothes horse which was a folding set of wooden rails with hessian hinges. This stood in front of the fire.

I hated cold rainy Mondays, as we could not get near the fire for hours. Ironing was also a heavy task. I remember my Grandma’s flat iron. This had a hinged lid. Inside a compartment, a red hot metal piece (previously heated in the fire) was inserted with tongs. While this cooled its replacement was heating. We didn’t have a flat ion, but a gas one. It had two rows of flames inside and a flexible metal tube. The flames could be turned up or down.

Even after we had been married for 8 or 10 years, I was using a gas washer with a handle on the lid. This was pushed back and forward to move a metal agitator to wash the clothes. The mangle was attached to it. Apart from the fact that the miners came straight from the pit and had to have their baths in front of the fire, their pit clothes had to be washed at home. I remember Granda’s long sleeved body shirts and long linings (underpants) took a long time to dry.

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