Marian Petterson

A blacksmith's daughter,
she respected his effort
and her mother's.
"Mondays, she took
all day to do the washing.
She boiled the water
on the stove and poured it into a wood
or galvanized tub. Scrubbed overalls and shirts
by hand on a washboard. Boiled more water for rinse.
When clothes were too thick for the wringer,
it would fly off the tub.
"She'd haul the clothes outside
where they froze in winter,
and bring them in still damp
to hang on a line in the kitchen.
When people say the good old days,
I say phooey."
Compared, "housework is play now."
Play then was cutting "families"
from Sears Roebuck catalogs.
Cut out furniture, wardrobes.
What was left went to outhouses
where, with yesterday's newspaper,
America's wish book
predated the Charmin.
Turn of the century recycling.
Marian Petterson
A blacksmith's daughter,
she respected his effort
and her mother's.
"Mondays, she took
all day to do the washing.
She boiled the water
on the stove and poured it into a wood
or galvanized tub. Scrubbed overalls and shirts
by hand on a washboard. Boiled more water for rinse.
When clothes were too thick for the wringer,
it would fly off the tub.
"She'd haul the clothes outside
where they froze in winter,
and bring them in still damp
to hang on a line in the kitchen.
When people say the good old days,
I say phooey."
Compared, "housework is play now."
Play then was cutting "families"
from Sears Roebuck catalogs.
Cut out furniture, wardrobes.
What was left went to outhouses
where, with yesterday's newspaper,
America's wish book
predated the Charmin.
Turn of the century recycling.
Henry Leark

He slept on cornhusk mattresses
his mother made. "You seen sweet corn.
You keep pulling
the husks off until you got the corn in your hand.
You leave that all dry, bone dry.
Then you put it in a great big whatdoyoucallit,
and make a mattress out of it. We used to
sleep on them.
"You did everything years ago to get along.
Everybody was in the same boat."
In fall his father butchered
half a pig. "Used to make a lot
of sausage. He'd cook the meat,
put it in crocks, render the lard,
and pour it over the meat.
You could save it for months and months and months
in the basement. Brush your fat back
and pull out your piece of meat, whatever you want."
No refrigeration.
Mother canned all her cherries, canned a lot of stuff.
The potatoes lasted all winter
on the dirt floor in the basement.
Apples on a higher layer.
Chickens were fresh. "My mother wanted a chicken
Saturday afternoon, have to chop his head off. Or duck
or whatever you wanted. Saved duck feathers and goose
feathers. Made pillows out of them.
"There was no such thing as go uptown
every five minutes
and get something to eat.
Mother bought flour in hundred pound bags.
She'd open up the seams of the sacks
and use them for towels,
dry the dishes and stuff.
"My mother made the spaghetti and everything
all herself. Oh, yeah, roll it out on the kitchen table
and take a knife and cut it. In strips that long.
"I can still remember, the first time I met my wife,
they had spaghetti. I thought what the devil is this?
I didn't want to act like I was too dumb,
but I couldn't figure out what it was.
"Until I got it on my plate. And then I saw.
Oh my God, they had bought it."