Thursday, June 25, 2009

Part - 15a - Farm Hands - Lucy Pt. a.1.





"Sonny tell 'em dinner ready." That's what I would hear each day, when I was a young boy, when Lucy had dinner ready.

Lucy Taylor was our "Mammy", "Other Mama" or whatever titles you wish to tag her with. In looks, she was almost a twin to "Aunt Jemimah" as seen on various baking products.

Why she called me "Sonny", I don't know. She is the only person to ever call me that. I asked her once, when I was about 10, what she'd call me when I was as old as Joe was. She said, "Sonny." I asked her what she'd call me when I got as old as Daddy. She said, "Mister Wood!"

Lucy had been working for Mother and Daddy since she was a spindly eleven-year-old girl; about the time Claire Louise and Sylvia Aliece, my two sisters came along. That was about nine years before me.

She was very special to all our family. On Mondays, she would load up some "lightered" (fat pine) splinters, wood, dirty clothes and the P&G and Octagon soap on the old wheelbarrow (with a 1 1/2" wide iron wheel), and push it up on the side of a hill, across the road from the house. There is an ever-flowing spring there. She would start a fire around the old black wash pot, pour buckets of water in the pot, add soap, and then put the clothes in that needed boiling. (Different colors at different times.)

When the water got hot, she'd take the "battling stick", (a board about 1" X 3" X 4') and punch and stir the clothes to "boil 'em clean!"

After the pot, she'd carry a "stick load" over to the wash tub sitting on a bench between two trees. She'd use the "rub board" to run the clothes up and down to get them real clean. When they were respectfully boiled and scrubbed, they went into the "rinsing tub" filled with fresh, clean water to rinse out the soap.

Clothes not needing starch would go back in the wheelbarrow. If starch was needed (most things worn outside), Lucy would have a pan of cornstarch mixed up to dip the clothes in so they would iron out real smooth and stiff.

When all the washing, rinsing, and starching was finished, Lucy would load everything back on the wheelbarrow and wheel it back to the backyard of the house. She would hang the fresh clean clothes on the clothesline to dry. If she had an extra big washing, she'd have to hang the overalls, etc. on the back wire fence.

Tuesday would usually be ironing day. Lucy would lay out each item that had been starched and sprinkle water on them by dipping her hand into a bowl of water and shaking it over the clothes. (Later, we got "up town" and got a little sprinkler that fit into a Coke bottle to use for sprinkling the clothes!) After she had sprinkled an item, she would roll it up.

Before any work started, Lucy would put two flat irons on the stove or in front of the fire in the fireplace, to heat up. After the sprinkling, she would wrap a thick rag around the hot handle of an iron, spit on her finger and quickly touch the bottom of the iron. If the spit "sizzled" the iron was hot enough to press the clothes. If the iron got cooled off too much, it wouldn't get the wrinkles out of the clothes. So, she had to put it back on the stove to reheat and get the other hot iron. There's an old saying, "Strike while the iron is hot!" This apparently was in reference to the flat irons cooling off, but could relate to a number of chores that needed to be done at just the right time.

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