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WASHDAY
By Margaret Renwick

The washhouse glowed, warm and steamy, lit by the flickering fire under the copper, Grandma stood possing away at the sheets and towels, Little Maggie crouched by the fire on her cracket with the toasting fork; she loved Monday, hot toast and butter dripping from her chin. Then she would help Grandma with the huge wooden mangle, it was taller than she was and took two hands to turn it. Maggie buttered the toast, some bits were well done, to be truthful they were burnt but Gran never minded. She always said she had crop for any corn and a blind man on a galloping horse would be glad to see it. She always had a funny saying for every event, did her Gran. While the clothes soaked they ate their toast and had five minutes. This was the last load and once they were mangled and hung out and the prop lifted them to the sky to billow in the breeze, they were done.

Maggie nearly forgot, her dollies clothes were soaking in the small enamel bowl. The hand knitted, lacy garments were beautifully made. Grandma was teaching her to knit but it was not easy. When she did remember how to cast on, large holes would appear where they were not supposed to. She rinsed the dollies clothes and hung them out on her own little line with her toy pegs. Just like Grandma.

The rhythmic sound of the posser sloshing the soap suds around the tub and the flickering flames mingled with the steamy smell of the soap was very soothing and Maggie sat on the cracket and daydreamed. Time to wake up! The washing was done and now it was bathtime. Clothes off and into the poss tub full of silky, soapy water. She had to stand on her cracket to climb into the tub as it was as tall as she was. She sat right down and the water came up to her chin, this was better than the tin tub in front of the fire in the kitchen. All too soon she had to come out and get dried in front of the dying embers of the fire under the copper. Once she was dressed she still had a job to do and with her wellies on she helped Grandma to tip the heavy tub over the back yard. With a stiff brush each they scrubbed the yard getting full value out of the water, Gran never wasted anything.

Up the wooden back stairs the two workers trudged, through the scullery and into the kitchen and on with the kettle. A nice pint pot of tea for Gran, she only drank tea out of a pot as it went cold too quickly in a cup. A large glass of milk for Maggie. As she sat on the welcoming knee and laid her head against the apron covered bosom Maggie decided that she loved washday and loved her Grandma best of all.


 

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