Bottled Fruit, Coppers, Mangles and Family Wrangles

by | May 21, 2015 | Family Memories, | 0 comments

I try to forget my childhood.
Memories I have are not good.
We had been three, Mum, Dad and me,
but we were four, counting Granny
who sadly had to come to live
with us when I was only five.

Gran was strict, cruel and frankly
she made our life a misery.
At the grand old age of sixty
she was left to look after me
so my parents could work all day
in London and so far away.

She would lock me out in the snow
just because I annoyed her so.
She would pull the cat’s tail for fun
and tell lies about me to Mum.
Then if Mum did not punish me
she would “send us to Coventry”.

She’d fly into a jealous rage
if ever I were centre stage.
Moaned when I had some new bedding,
that she’d had hers since her wedding,
then sulked in her room for a week
and thankfully refused to speak.

Weekends were full of drudgery:
elbow deep in suds Mum would be.
In the copper whites were boiling.
She’d soak, wash, scrub, rinse and wring
in our deep white porcelain sink
not even stopping for a drink.

Collars from their shirts were detached
and then were dunked in Robin starch
along with table cloths and skirts,
Mum’s best blouses and Dad’s white shirts.
And we wore corsets on our hips.
No wonder we’d stiff upper lips!

She’d cart washing to the mangle
outside where she’d wind the handle
round and round, squeezing and squeezing.
In winter when it was freezing,
it would still be pegged on the line.
That was her routine, rain or shine.

But when it rained washing was dried
on a clotheshorse by our fireside
from which clouds of steam would billow
window panes dripped on sills below.
We felt so damp, we felt so cold,
rheumatism came when they got old.

Saturday was Mum’s washing day,
her cleaning day, a horrid day.
Father kept well out of the way.
He disappeared to spend his day
on his allotment down the road
where grew fruit and veg by the load.

He’d pick blackcurrants, raspberries,
rhubarb, beans, peas, sprouts, gooseberries
onions, beetroot and tomatoes.
He’d bring us carrots, potatoes
parsnips, turnips, apples and pears.
Mum would bottle in Kilner jars.

Dad took some to aunt’s the next day
and me too so that I could play.
Saturdays were so exhausting
Mother would stay in bed resting.
Then we’d go home for beans on toast
if Dad was cooking, never roast.

The week would start over again.
Mother went off to work by train.
Father went off to work by car.
I walked to school, it was not far,
in my itchy woolly long socks
and vests under candy striped frocks.

Grannie stayed at home with nothing
much to do except some ironing.
She would give me bread and dripping
moan that I had been out skipping
when I should have been home helping
her with vegetable peeling.

One of my jobs would be setting
the table for Mum’s homecoming.
Mum would do most of the cooking
except when Gran felt like baking.
I quite liked her then when making
cakes, pastries, and suet pudding.

She sometimes sat at her sewing
machine. I would watch her treadling
away at a great speed making
little dresses we’d be taking
to my umpteen cousins sending
my old clothes too, after mending.

Old woollen socks she’d be darning,
old jumpers she’d be rewinding
the crinkled wool, redesigning
new cardigans, then she’d be sitting
with her crocheting or knitting.
That was when she wasn’t sulking!

I don’t remember much else about
my life at home. We didn’t go out
much, except for an annual
September break as usual,
making me late for the new school
term, and finding new friends. How cruel! prompt:- Childhood memories. Not submitted.