Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Even if you’re not Irish, you may feel an impulse to wear GREEN today or maybe even sport a derby hat. Our family is mostly of German-Swiss ancestry, but once we lived in the Killarney Shores neighborhood of our city with streets named Emerald Isle Circle, St. Patrick’s Lane, one even named Leprechaun Court. I wrote about our tussle with the City to keep our community GREEN. You can read about it here.
Speaking of leprechauns, here’s a cheeky fellow pausing in his jig to stare at a washerwoman scrubbing the laundry.
A one-minute listen: Musicians joyfully strum and fiddle the familiar tune!
There’s no indication what kind of soap this industrious woman used, but I’m sure it wasn’t Gain or Tide. If she is like my Grandma Longenecker, she may have made her own soap.
Pat Campbell reminisces about her grannie making lye soap for laundry and then washing her hair with the same product, producing shining locks.
Grandma Fannie’s hands were always busy, shown here canning peaches.
Mondays were her wash days and I can’t verify exactly what soap recipe she used, but I do remember her large tub on the back porch filled with the pungent smell of lye and probably borax and ammonia. like the recipe shown below.
After the soap mixture congealed, my Grandma sliced it into good-sized beige blocks with a sharp knife and stored it on a wooden shelf for Monday wash-days.
An Old Testament scripture refers to another kind of washing, the kind King David needed after he committed adultery with Bathsheba and schemed the death of her husband, Uriah, in battle.
David laments his crime in Psalm 51:7, and entreats God to cleanse him with hyssop and wash him from the stain of his sin.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. NIV
God forgave King David’s grievous sin, and he was restored to the joy of his salvation!
Do you or your family celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
What memories do you have of “doing the washing” in your childhood home?
How do you “celebrate” work?
Note: I will return when my computer feels ready to cooperate! 🙂
Good morning, Marian! No, we don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day–though I might make some Irish Soda Bread today. 😀I don’t have any special washing day memories. We always had a washing machine and dryer. I remember my mom telling me though how when my brother was a baby, she had to take their laundry to wash at a laundromat, and then bring it home to hang it from the lines from her apartment window. I do remember the old wringer machine at the place we went to at the shore when I was a child.
You are the FIRST—and the first to mention the wringer washing machines.
As newlyweds in an apartment, we took our dirty clothes to a laundromat with automatic washers and driers. What a DRAG! I miss the lines we had in Killarney, mostly because it was a wonderful way to dry sheets and towels. Thanks, Merril! 🙂
I remember when Monday was washing day! I also had my laundromat days. And washing cloth diaper days.
I’m smiling at your last comment, Liz. Disposable diapers were available when my children were little, but we couldn’t afford buying them. Since then, we’ve learned that they pollute landfills, so I guess I was being eco-friendly in those days and didn’t realize it. Always good to see you here, Liz: Thank you!
You’re welcome, Marian! Disposable diapers were available when my daughter was a baby, but I was lucky to have enough money for laundry detergent. I do wonder if there is still the concern about disposables polluting the landfills, or if they’re now biodegradable.
Biodegradable disposables? I’ll have to check into that. It sounds as though we may have had our babies in similar decades, Liz. Thanks for the follow-up! 🙂
You’re welcome, Marian! My daugther was born in 1974.
My Mom made her own Lye soap as well. She always washed clothes on Monday. We aren´t Irish but we always wore green on March 17th. Such a fun day. My Irish friends are among my favorite. Such lovable folk.
Yes, Monday was washday at our childhood home too. I found a kid’s song that confirms the day for laundry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OEkivwz1Bk&ab_channel=LittleFox%3AFairyTales%26ClassicStoriesforKids
You say that Irish friends are among your favorites perhaps because they have a reputation for story-telling, which you and I can certainly appreciate. Thanks, Darlene!
Yes, the storytelling and the love of family. (and making you feel like you are part of their family!)
Oh yes, indeed, we celebrate. But first, I work. My library work feels light compared to laundry by hand though. When I was a child we still used the wringer washer. What a lot of hard work. I celebrate my much preferred work with books.
Ah, I do have memories of Mom’s wringer washer, especially a time or two when my hand and arm got temporarily squashed by the double cylinders.
Yes, I too celebrate my love of books as you do with blogging and other writing. Thanks for tuning in today, Arlene! 🙂
Definitely a familiar tune!
I remember in school making shamrocks. Back then, we celebrated more holidays in school.
I miss going to my friends’ annual St. Patrick’s Day party. They would invite about a hundred people. Because of COVID, they haven’t had it. 😢
Never made soap. Mom always used Tide. 😁
Yes, my Swiss school teacher, Aunt Ruthie, had us make Irish shamrocks with green construction paper, and one year we wore green derby hats, plastic. Aunt/Teacher never missed a chance to celebrate holidays. I hope you can party next St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe you and your friends can gather on the 4th of July, if not before.
Thanks, L. Marie, thanking you for checking in today and sharing your thoughts! 🙂
Marian — I remember wash day because my sister and I had to iron. Oh, how I despised that task! St. Patrick’s Day is the day that Len and I eloped. We celebrate 41 years today.
I liked ironing more than hanging out the wash. Mom had an ironing board that swung out from a wall in her kitchen, sort of like a Murphy bed. When I ironed I could look out the window at the farm next door, sometimes seeing horses.
Congrats on your and Len’s 41st anniversary, mixing romantic RED with Irish GREEN. I left a comment on your Facebook page. Enjoy the day – and the year ahead with the love of your life, Laurie! 🙂
Top of the morning to you, Marian! Delightful! Everyone is Irish on St Patty’s Day. Loved the Irish tune. A great way to start my day.
Kathy, I’m glad you liked the lilting Irish tune. Yes, even Italians and Swiss can be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. Thanks for swinging by today. 🙂
I’ve never had to wash by hand, thank goodness, Marian, we’ve always had a washing machine. I’ve also always worked full time so I am very grateful for this particular technological advancement. My mother used to wash cloth nappies in a nappy bucket and her mother used a wash tub with a dolly and a mangle.
I too had a “nappy bucket,” if by nappy you mean a diaper pail – ha! I’m not sure of the meaning of “dolly and mangle,” but my best guess is an electric machine with an agitator which went “swish-swish” and then an apparatus to wring out clothes after rinsing. (I’m getting an education here!)
Yes, Robbie, writers need automatic helpers. I couldn’t do without my washer/drier either. Thanks! 🙂
Happy St. Patty’s Day to you, Marian. My background is 100% Polish, but I remember the first time I flew into Ireland and I got off the plane, I felt like I was at home. There’s gotta a be a little bit of Irish in my blood.
Like you, Joan, the Irish are known for their story-telling abilities. No wonder you felt so much at home in Ireland. Thanks for checking in today! 🙂
My memories of washing laundry (other than in college days) was when I was in Junior High. My family had moved from Washington state to southern Idaho where my electrician Dad worked on a new dam near the Wyoming border.
For that summer my Mom rented a one-story farm house. Since our family didn’t have much money she decided not to spend $50.00 to get the electricity turned on.
So there we were: an old farm house with no electricity. I envisioned this to be the worst three months of my life. A kitchen with a wood stove and a well pump we had to prime to bring up ice cold water from a deep well, a box in the side of a kitchen for an air-cooled refrigerator, two-seated out house and an old washing machine on the back porch.
So…the galvanized tub for bathing also became the container to use a washboard with bars of soap for washing clothes. The hand ringer attached to the washing machine was used to squeeze the water from our wash. We also used the dirty soapy water in the wash machine and ran a hose (made with the plastic sheeting from high power electric cable lines–wrapped with many rolls of black electrical tape) to the nearby vegetable garden.
That summer using our camping sleeping bags on wire springer twin beds with all of the other daily challenges actually turned out to be good story telling to many people in later years.
Thanks for sharing this, my dear. I have heard most of the story, but not all of the details. Now others will learn how adversity have sparked good memories in your family! 🙂
Due to WW II and its aftermath my family became refugees and lived in Paraguay for 5 years. My mother, who had six children (two born in Ukraine, one in South Germany and two in Paraguay—later two more in Canada) made her own soap and did all her laundry by hand with a scrub board! She had to haul up water from a well they had dug. My sister and I had to look after the younger ones while she was doing laundry! Later in Canada she was so happy for the wringer/washer she had. When my husband and I were in Congo many years later we had a wringer washer and a clothes line outside. All the laundry had to be ironed because flies would lay their eggs on it which would hatch into worms and get under our skin! Fortunately I had house help which made my life easier than my mother’s! That’s my laundry story. HAPPY ST, PATRICK’S DAY
I’ve known the geography of your journey for a while now, but I didn’t know some of the details, especially regarding laundry. Your mother had a hard life without household help and even yours was challenging adjusting to different languages and cultures. The reason for your ironing clothes in Congo is completely understandable, and very stressful, I’d think.
Thanks for adding so much spice to this column today, Elfrieda! 🙂
I do have memories of my grandmothers making soap and of St. Patrick’s Day I have fun memories We celebrated it in the State where I was born and raised. It was a beautiful beacon of hope.
I am very familiar with your state, Pat, and know there are many Irish descendants who live there. Thanks for sharing your memory and “Shalom aleichem” back to you! 🙂
We aren’t doing a thing for St. Patrick’s Day this year. Can’t quite get enthused about it, despite coming from a long line of Irish folks. As for childhood memories of doing the washing, I remember clothes hanging on lines both in the basement and outdoors. Most clothes were line-dried, then sprinkled with water, put in the freezer, and later ironed into flatness. It was a laborious process.
Irish lineage equates to swell storytelling in my mind, so you have the genes for it, Ally! Your description of laborious laundry fits my mother’s ritual, except she put sprinkled clothes in the fridge, not the freezer. Those were the days we don’t wish for again, Ally! 🙂
We have corned beef and cabbage. My daughter is coming today. Maybe I can convince her to do my laundry. Ha!
If all else fails, maybe you can convince her by having her read your comment. Tee Hee!
I admire your serious intention with art. Several of my friends who were formerly bloggers now have ventured into painting, each with a distinctive style. You go, girl! 🙂
Monday’s were wash day at home and at Grandma’s! I remember a metal scrub board with wooden handles in the kitchen sink at Grandma’s and a wringer washing machine too… Oh, how i loved to hear Grandma tell stories of the good ole days! We have corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots for St. Patrick’s Day! HAPPY ST. PATIRICK’S DAY and thanks for the trip down Memory Lane!
You’re welcome! I’m glad you’ve come along for the trip as a true celebrant of St. Patrick’s Day. You know, Bette, if you wear green today, you won’t get pinched – ha!
I don’t have any memories of washing days Marian .. which does not mean we didn’t do any washing 🙂 … Thank you for the lard recipe – I’m tempted for the washing of the locks though. Here are a couple of Irish proverbs especially for you … pinched I have to say from my friend Google …
May the road rise up to meet you.
Don’t be breaking your shin on a stool that’s not in your way.
May you get all your wishes but one, so that you will always have something to strive for –
Thanks for googling some lovely Irish sayings. My favorite among those you’ve curated: “May you get all your wishes but one, so that you will always have something to strive for –!”
I have never heard that one and will have to put it in my stash of wise sayings. Thanks for all of this, Susan! 🙂
My mom made lye soap for doing the laundry as well. She used that old washboard and tub and hung her clothes on the line summer and winter. We definitely used store-bought soap to cleanse ourselves.
Thanks for stopping by with a comment today, Irene. I have seen your studious face in blog-land and Facebook. Now I see you are a memoirist with Canadian roots, who loves tea drinking. Do drop in again! 🙂
I can’t say that I ever remember my family washing clothes with lye soap, but I do remember clothes always being out on the clothesline to dry. My dad has a funny story about finding a tiny bat inside one of the legs of his pants.
Thanks for the chuckle, Pete. The tale of your dad finding a tiny bat inside one of the pant legs sounds like the plot line for a short story.
Yes, with a family of six, we had clothes hanging from a clothesline out back, mostly on Mondays. 🙂
Happy belated St Patrick’s day, Marian. I am back at work every day now and don’t always have the time to read or for social media as I used to.
I remember my mum had domestic help with house chores and had washing until she bought her first washing machine in the early 70s: best invention ever! It always amazes me how women managed to do a whole family ‘s washing by hand! Superheroes indeed!
Fatima, I completely understand. A job is time-consuming and after your work day, you need to de-press. You are welcome whenever you can tune in here.
How wonderful that your mum had household help, every woman’s dream, I suppose. I agree, automatic washers are fabulous – driers too, now that I don’t have a clothesline. Thanks so much! 🙂
I have a clothesline again since we moved into our new home in January; just need the sun! 👍😃
Good for YOU!
I remember Monday mornings the copper came out and the wash board…I always used to love seeing the white washing and it was white… blowing in the breeze I can see it now..no fancy undies then just bloomers…
I can visualize your Monday mornings from long ago; you paint such a nostalgic picture. And your mention of no fancy undies made me smile. Thanks, Carol!
I just LOVE the smile on Grandma Fannie’s face. So infectious. Makes me feel good and takes me to a time where people worked hard, didn’t have time for social media (and there WAS no social media), cleaned up and enjoyed a good meal. I used to make corned beef and cabbage for our family every March 17, but I don’t eat a lot of meat now, and I don’t like the smell of corned beef so much. No Irish in me. My guy says he’s Italian, but his Irish mother used to disagree. :–) Last night – to support a local restaurant (that was my excuse) we bought take out and enjoyed a delicious Irish meal of corned beef, cabbage, carrots and potatoes with a horse radish cream sauce on top. Yum!
Well, you have put me in a good mood this morning — and made me hungry too. I imagine early settlers in Boston were Irish, hence the ritual St. Patrick’s Day menu for takeout yesterday.
I love the push-pull of your poetic prose here. You sound just like an author – ha!
Thanks for stopping by, Pam. 🙂
🙂 Always love reading your posts!!
I guess we have a mutual admiration society going on here, a good thing! 🙂
A little late here to the gabfest but I think I remember your post on your Wal-mart dilemma a number of years back. My most memorable St. Patrick’s Day was when I happened to be in New York City on a March 17 maybe 10 years ago–met up with a friend to go to the opera where her daughter plays violin. (Not bragging, that’s in the past now no opera at present.)
Anyway, the day I left town I was waiting to catch my bus out of town (there’s one that runs between NYC and Wash. D.C.) and there was a congregation of youthful celebrators mostly in various shades ans stripes of green, getting rowdy on St. Paddy’s Day near Madison Square Gardens. Not being Irish at all, it was quite new to me, we were lucky if we got green cookies or something. Hope your computer gets fixed soon. Are you commenting via your phone??!
The door is always open at “Plain and Fancy,” Melodie. Thanks for sharing your memories of St. Patrick’s Day in NYC. I hope you get to attend an opera soon. The world seems to be opening up again for travel and entertainment.
Yes, you did see the “It’s Not Easy Being Green,” which I posted twice in the early years of blogging for St. Patrick’s Day.
This month I have had to have both my hard drive and battery replaced, each a delicate operation on a computer that has reached its expiration date. My next post will probably happen at the end of this month. Thanks for your concern. 🙂
My husband is Irish (my ancestry a mix of German, Scottish and Irish) and he never celebrated St. Pat’s day. My Mom usually did a green dessert (pistacio pudding or cake with green whipped cream), and green milk at bedtime.
As for washing, my Grandmother had a washer with a wringer. As kids we loved to play with it, but she was always worried we’d wring our fingers too. My Mom had a machine with a spinner compartment with a hose that you moved, so you reused the hot water. Environmentally friendly. It died in the early 90’s in the middle of a load of Big Guy’s cloth diapers. Ugh! I used disposables for Little Guy 16 years later. 😉
I like everything pistachio, maybe because of the lively colour, but I don’t like the nuts themselves.
Yes, my mom had a washing with a wringer on which I caught my hand arm. After I screamed bloody murder, my mother opened the wringer with a firm push to release my appendages.. I like that you mom could re-use the hot water on her machine.
So good to see you here. Thanks, Jenn!
It would have been my Mum and Dad’s wedding anniversary on St.Patrick’s day so it was always a celebratory day for us . There is Irish on my mother’s side but I don’t remember us ever joining in with the celebration . We originally come from Birmingham and it’s quite big there .
My sister has the most wonderful husband but he takes great pleasure in a bargain so almost everything they buy is second hand . When they first got married they had what we called a twin tub , which could be what you call a wringer. I can remember going to visit on washing day and she was doing the washing in Wellington boots . So I asked the obvious question, WHY? Because it leaks , she said . I suppose you could say it was their attempt at recycling 😂
It would be hard to forget a St. Patrick’s Day wedding date. I wonder if the attendants at your parents’ wedding wore green – ha! (Or, maybe they eloped.)
Thanks too for the mini-story about your sister and her husband’s thriftiness. As you imply, having to wear boots doing the laundry seems a little extreme, but at least they appear to agree. Otherwise, they may come to fisticuffs having to do the washing in “wellies.” There’s humor there, but not sure where, Cherry – ha! oxo
My parents married in 1944 during the war and was married in uniform so if anyone wore green it would be for luck 💖😊
Interesting…thanks for the follow-up, Cherry!
I’ve never celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, although it was another excuse to have a party in college. I can’t imagine the punishment of washing a child’s mouth out with lye soap–and many other punishments used to tame and break a child. My grandma had a washboard, but I don’t remember the soap.
I often receive delightful smelling soaps from friends who make soap for soaps for gifts. The soaps are always gentle and I’m always grateful. Blessed Spring.
Grandma Longenecker had lavender soap in her lingerie drawers. My Aunt Ruthie got soap gifts from teachers, when she was principal. Mother used Ivory soap when we were children, later Lux, and then graduated to Dove. I liked the smell of Dove but the bar always got so gooey on the bathtub and didn’t last very long. Yes, I agree, gentle is better than caustic soaps with lye.
Along with you, I too shout, “Blessed spring!” Thanks, Elaine, as always.
Soap has come a long way, hasn’t it? I wonder when people thought to add a little scent in those soap bars! (This is Barb at Book Club Mom commenting through my other blog!)
Hi, Barbara! WordPress didn’t recognize this reply, but no worries, your comment became readable after I moderated it.
Yes, I’ve noticed manufacturers have produced soap with no scent because some folks have allergies.
Now, I’ll have to zip over to your other blog. Thanks for the comment here. 🙂
Funny how things come back into fashion again – like making your own soap.
Yes, indeed! What goes around comes around, they say, like shapes of eyeglass frames and wallpaper in decorating once again. Thanks, Lady Fi! 🙂
Hi Marian – I thought I saw this post, but it must have been on my other blog. Anyway, I’m glad we don’t have to make our own soap anymore! 🙂
Yes, indeed! Because we don’t have toil to make soup, we can spend the time reading, and reading, and reading. Writing too! Thanks, Barbara!
My Gran made lye soap; I still have three bars, saved in a tin can for use on poison ivy. Moisten the soap, make a lather, rub on poison ivy; it works every time to lessen the itch and repairs skin quickly! Thanks, Marian, for reminding…….