Monday, February 6, 2012

One And A Half Broomsticks and Four Nails

Sunday best circa 1950 all dolled up in
outfits made by my mom. first on left.
That's me, the shortest one with back to camera.
Two of my sisters have been working to get my mom's living quarters a little more walker assisted walking friendly.  That is a fancy way to say clearing out a bunch of unnecessary stuff that can cause a 93 year old woman to trip and fall.  They have moved around the sofa, chairs, table and dining chairs.  The coffee table is now in the closet with shoes up higher so Momma can reach them without straining to reach her shoes.  The baskets holding throws, books, chapsticks, cards, well just about everything a person might need in the course of a year have been reduced in size and number.

Momma reported that 4 big bags of clothing & shoes had been taken from her closet.  She says she can't tell that anything was removed from her closet.  This closet has one eleven foot long rod for just her clothing.   We have just cleaned out Gene's mom's stuff as we moved her to skilled nursing.  Something like 6 bags of clothing were donated.  I laundered about 10 loads of her clothing we were keeping for her.

The thing is that is a lot of clothing for two elderly women to have.  Women that the main part of each day is going to the cafeteria for meals.  Time was when each of these women was pleased to have 3 good dresses.  Their new dresses made from matching flour sacks.  Those dresses and blouses were worn till faded then became field work clothing.  After that they became either rags, everyday hankies or filling for blankets.  There were not closets and chests full of clothing in the "good old days".

Gene in his green checked
polyester leisure suit, 1975.
This is long gone!
So what changed?  Well, the two women each changed from being farm hands to manufacturing and clerical work.  More funding was available for more clothing.  And then came a life changer    ....  p o l y e s t e r.  I know we all shudder at the thought of leisure suits.  But the stuff wears like iron.  My mom retired from TI in 1981.  She is still wearing pants she wore to work ..... and they still have a crease without pressing....

Jacket from 1971 material in 2009
Edna holding great grandson, Jon
One of the jackets I washed for Edna was made from material purchased for her Christmas gift in 1971.  She had seen the material at a shop in Old Town shopping center on a visit to see us in Dallas.  Even though she fell in love with it, frugal Edna would not pay the price.  Gene was pleased to have such an easy gift for his mom, 2 yards of material.  And danged if the colors are not still pretty darn good in January, 2012, 41 years later.  It is still one of Edna's favorite jackets and the colors and patterns are sort of back "in".

Yes, I have garments that will not come up above my knees and tops that will hardly go over my shoulders.  And there are those favorite outfits that just feel good.  So I, too, like our mothers have very little room in my portion of the walk in closet in our room.  Plus, several drawers in the armoire and dresser and containers of "next size down" on closet shelves.  And while polyester never wears out we do get tired of the same old thing.  So we buy something new and shove the old ones to the back just in case.

Last night I remembered the Farnsworth house out in Chambersville.  Our family of 3 sisters a mom and dad hung all our clothing in one of 4 places:

Yep, just like these that I grabbed
of a couple of auction sites.
Tub and washing machine.
  • on a half a broomstick nailed in the closet under the stairs 
  • on the full broomstick hung by bailing wire from the ceiling of the "bathroom" off the screened in back porch.  
    • the bathroom was where we bathed in a square, galvanized tub that was also use for clothes washing with the Maytag on the screened back porch.  
    • the room where the chamber pot was placed for nighttime use instead of walking the path to the outhouse.
  • behind the door in the northwest room on two long nails hammered into the wall at an angle. 
  • along the hallway next to the stairs on 2 more long nails.
That was it.  No walk in closets in every room.  No rotating clothes rack.  Just one almost real closet with half of a broomstick, one full broomstick and 4 nails in the wall held all our clothing.  That realization just leaves me with well, nothing but the need for                .....................                more closet space. 







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