Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Laura and the Laundry

Often I am in the midst of piles of laundry.
Thrown out of drawers by one Miss. C.
Shoved under items.
In hampers
In baskets
On the floor.
In the washer.
In the dryer.
Clothes everywhere.
W. and I have been slowly reading through the Little House books.
I am reading ahead...what can I say, they're addictive.
In the later books, she spends great amounts of time describing what people wore.
What the style "back east" was.
What would Goody's book say?
Talking about working making shirts at the dry goods store.
Or hiring out to the dressmaker's  (7am-5pm bring your own lunch for $0.50 a day)
Sewing all day during the winter or knitting lace with friends.
So much of their time was spent making clothes, yet it seems as though they each had 
1) lots of underclothes that were worn several sets at once (one must be proper petticoats, drawers, union suits etc.)
2) an every day dress and apron (or for the man folk, what we would call a dress shirt and slacks.)
3) a best dress (or a suit)
The best dress may be rotated to the everyday once the everyday was through being worn (or not depending on what it was made of.)
Children's clothes were made with growth in mind; seams could be let out as could hems to allow for the growing child.
Man do I long for those days.
Laundry was a hassle (Monday wash and Tuesday iron, but no purple dye #17 to get out of clothes after Grace painted...just stove blackening.)
But think of it...no folding...no laundry everywhere.
People cared for their clothes and didn't think of them as disposable as they do so in modern society.
Clothes were time, raw product, and lovingly made.
Not cheaply made in Indonesia.
Socks were knitted by the fireplace during the evenings when family spent time together talking, singing, and being together.
Old clothes were put in a scrap bag to be remade for smaller clothes for siblings, or trim for the curtains.
Sheets that were worn had the center seam torn and then the far sides were then sewed together to make "new" sheets...ones already flipped were then made into curtains or dress linings or quilts...
Yes they were stylish.
Yes they were thoroughly modern for their day.
Laura embraced technology and loved modern things.
I have read some about her later days and the modernization of her farm through the years.
But often I wonder what would Laura think about today's modern society.


  1. I love the Little House books and am just waiting for the wee one here to be old enough to enjoy them.
    I always wondered about having to wash all those long dresses back then and by hand too! Ouch!xx

  2. I love those books, too. I've been reading a Great Depression book where similar things were done to reuse items. (I actually blogged about it right before coming over here, as funny as that timing is. No, that is not a plug for you to rush right over there.)

    I'm inspired by them all. :)


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