Take a walk in Blue Bell Woods listen to the sounds around you, of bird song and bees. Smell the flowers and the scent of Spring in the air. Every year is a new beginning and every day a blessing

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Old traditions......................

This morning I was sweeping our rather large driveway. I wondered how many people still do that. I know my daughter does not. Well that reminded me, when we lived in Bedford (England) our Italian neighbour and most of the others would polish their front steps, usually red. Not only that but they would sweep the front path and the sidewalk in front of their house. Even though there was a wall at the end of the front yard. We all did that. It keeps the street looking nice for one thing, I still do that here as well.
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I also remember my grandmother Hines would "black" the inside of the fire place. The back of the fire and grate. It made it look so much nicer than the smokey concrete that was at the back of most fires. They would hang a kettle to stay warm over the fire in her house, my Grandma Hines also had a stove in the middle room next to the kitchen, It was wide open with a hob over the fire. I only remember things vaguely as I was still very young when we lived there, but several memories stuck. She like most people did not use the "front" room. That was for doctors visits or guests. Everything was always in its place and polished and fluffed. The next room was the dining/living room. It had the fireplace I mentioned that she would blacken and had blue and white tile around the edge of the opening. The outside was as I recall some kind of molded black metal, at least in my mind. She kept that polished as well. Women really worked in those days, keeping house was a pride they took in the job.
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The next room (it was a very long house) was the back entrance with a big bay window. Thats where the hob was and I suppose during the war and when kids were home it was well used. Stew always on the hob they said. She had soldiers billeted there for a time. Stacked like logs they said on the floor. The kitchen was narrow and quite small and then after that a lean to that was the very cold bath room. All brick and concrete with a claw foot tub and immersion heater for hot water. Goodness knows what they did before that. I was just happy I had my bath in a tin tub in front of the fire, that room scared me. It also led to the outside loo.
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My other grandmothers house was smaller but she did mostly the same things as most women did. The laundry at her house was done in the kitchen sink and hung out in the conservatory. While at my other grandmothers it hung in that cold bathroom. That is when it was not outside on the lines. All houses had washing lines, all laundry done by hand. My grandmother Seabrook has a huge scrubbed oak table in the conservatory and a wringer on one end. After the things went through the wringer on the line they went, inside or out. I remember her polishing brass. I don't do that. She also had a "Front" room that no one was allowed in. I think its a good idea myself.
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Window washing was done a lot and by putting on a paste, leaving it to dry and then rubbing off with a cloth. Actually its a good way because you can see if you missed a spot. The outside was done by sitting on the window sill and leaning out if you didn't have a ladder.
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My next door neighbours on Bidwell Hill had two girls. Dawn was my age and Heather younger. Dawns bedroom was next to mine. Our houses were joined So we could tap on the wall and see if the other was in bed yet. We would join cans with string and try to talk to each other via tin cans.
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When there was a funeral everyone closed their curtains and would stand on the doorstep as the funeral went by in silence, if you were walking in the village men would stop and remove their hats and women would stop and just bow the head in respect for those in mourning. They would wear black arm bands and a wreath would be on the door.
We have lost all of that respect I think. Now no one stops or even thinks about it anymore. Of course in those days everyone knew everyone else and when I left in a taxi for the airport when we came to the States, all our neighbours came to the front doors and waved us off. I can still see that in my mind.
When my Dad died I wore a veil, a black lace thing to cover my face. Women still wore hats to church and covered their hair, all that faded out by the 1970s. When Mum died all was different.
Just a few thoughts this day.

1 comment:

Magic Love Crow said...

Great post Janice!!! Really enjoyed reading it! I sweep the driveway and part of the road! LOL! People might think I'm crazy, but it was the way I was brought up! Hugs!