‘Cleanliness is next to godliness’ was a well-known motto and keeping clothes clean was a big production. I remember Monday mornings in the mid 1930s - early 1940s. This was typical for us when we lived in rural areas. There was a big, black, three legged wash kettle in the back yard.


Every Monday morning this kettle was filled with water and a fire was built underneath. When the water began to boil, clothes and soap were dumped into the kettle and we took turns poking the clothes with a mop handle until they were assumed clean. Then while another load of dirty clothes was washed, the freshly cleaned ones were rinsed in a tub of cold water, wrung out by hand and hung on a clothes line to dry.


If the weather was unfavorable for drying, the clothes were hung up inside the house to dry. I can still remember the smell produced when the odor of dripping-wet clothing hanging in the house mingled with the odor of ash dust from the fireplace.

I mentioned the well in a paragraph above. A good well was very important to a rural household. Homes in rural areas had no indoor plumbing. Water came from the well. Some wells had a closed top and were fitted with a hand pump while other wells were open at the top with a rock or wooden enclosure built around them that stood about waist high to an adult.


I remember one summer day in about 1937. Mother and I were walking a path to the well that was located about 150 feet from the house. Mother was merrily swinging her empty water bucket as we walked along when suddenly a large snake emerged from the weeds right next to us. Mother screamed, pitched that bucket into the air, grabbed me and we ran straight to the house and we stayed there until dad came home.


Dad built a fire beneath a hollow tree which housed a whole tribe of snakes in our back yard. As he smoked the snakes out he whacked as many as he could. I guess several got away. Add together the thought of snakes crawling around at night, loosely built houses, scary lamp shadows on the wall, pitch black areas in a dimly lit house and you can figure why a person had to be watchful at night. It’s not that I worried about a snake jumping up to bite me - I was afraid of heart attack, ha.


Oh, excuse me. I was describing the typical well when the snake story diverted my attention; back to the well (snakes hung out around wells - they like water too).

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