Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Weekly Schedule

While I was growing up, Mondays were for washing clothes. Spring, summer and fall, Mom would wash clothes in the basement using a wringer washer. Then she'd carry baskets of wet clothes up the steps to hang on outside clotheslines. In winter or on rainy Mondays in warmer months, the clothes were hung in the basement. If it started to rain before the clothes were dry outside, she'd have to take them off the line and carry them back down to the basement and rehang them there to finish drying.

Tuesdays and probably stretching into Wednesdays she ironed. She'd sprinkle the clothes with water then rolled them up until they were evenly damp before ironing. I still remember the smell of warm freshly ironed clothes.

Friday evenings Dad, Mom, my brother, Jerry, and I went out to eat and then did the weekly grocery shopping before going home. When my parents had more kids, Dad did the grocery shopping on his way home since Mom didn't drive. Eating out became very rare then. Fridays always meant either fish or macaroni and cheese for supper.

On Saturdays my dad and one of my uncles took turns taking my brother, two cousins and me to catechism classes at St. Cyril and Methodius in town. If it was my dad's turn to pick us up, we often stopped at the library, too.
Sometimes on a Saturday evening, we'd visit Aunt Margaret and her family. It was the day she baked for the coming week. I remember the many loaves of fresh baked bread lining the kitchen counter. What  we enjoyed most - in addition to playing with our cousins - were deep, fat, fried prune rolls sprinkled with powdered sugar served with a glass of cold milk. Nothing tasted better.    

Sundays were for Mass and almost always in the spring, summer and fall, for picnics afterwards.  We went with my mother's sister, Aunt Millie, her husband and their four kids. What fun those picnics were. We traveled anywhere we could go in two hours or less and rarely visited the same place more than once in a summer. This was before innerstate highways and roads with more than two lanes. Family reunions were on Sunday's, too.

Now most of my days don't follow a set schedule. I get groceries when I need them, wash clothes when I have enough light or dark clothes to make up a load. I still hang clothes outside if the weather permits. Ironing? I seldom do any ironing. Thank goodness for wash and wear clothes. Sunday morning I still go to Mass, and twice a month on Thursdays I deliver Mobile Meals and/or attend one of my two book clubs.

Because for the most part I don't have a set schedule, I rely on my calendar and my weekly list of things to do. I've always kept a "To Do" list. Once my youngest sister looked at it and said it made her so tired reading it that she had to lie down and take a nap. My lengthy list is never finished at the end of the week. Some things have been rolled over to the following week for quite a few months now. This week I'm going to write a long overdue letter to a friend of mine and also send congratulations to a former student for setting a world record in a running event. Yes I am. I really am going to do those two things this week. That is I will after I finish planting the squash . . . or maybe after the beans are planted.                             



  1. I remember that my mother grew up with those set schedules. However she felt that it was a jail that could keep one from taking advantage of pop-up experiences that would avail themselves! How non-traditional! If something came up that would be a desirable thing to do, the 'chores' got put aside, to be done another day. SO I didn't grow up with the daily grind and probably won't adopt it when I am at home full time. Either way, we can have a satisfying life and still get the jobs done!

  2. The smell of baking bread brings back memories of my grandparents who lived on a farm and had a schedule of what had to be done daily subject to the weather and the season. I also remember churning butter in a big glass jar with something like a giant mixing implement that went through a home in the lid and turning the crank on the ice cream maker. Milking the cows, feeding the hogs, feeding chickens and collecting eggs were done every day.

  3. I think Warren hit on the key. We were once tied to agriculture including the husbandry of animals. Animals must be put out to pasture, milked, given other regular care. There is a time for planting, weeding, harvesting. Nature used to be the hinge pin, but it isn't as pivotal anymore. Like any other small creature, my life was more ordered and on schedule when my children were young.

    Now, I have greater freedom, and I like it. I have a need to do what I want rather than just do maintenance work. Of course, I never have enough time to write. I wish I had at least four or five hours everyday to write, but it is not always possible. And, there are times when I bake breads from scratch because that's an expression of who I am too--but only when I feel like it, not because I have to do it every Thursday.

  4. I remember those schedules. I think women did it just to believe they had something planned for every day. Not me, everything is if I'm in the mood or I'm desperately out of underwear. :)
    Needless to say, if I grew up on a farm, I'd be a runaway at twelve.

  5. My mother followed that laundry schedule exactly. I started doing housework by rote when I worked full time - bathroom on Monday, bedroom on Tuesday, etc. By putting in 20 minutes a day, I had my weekend free. Old habits die hard. I still do housework by rote. Everything else is on the never-ending to do list.\

  6. I think we overlook how much more work women did in those days. I remember from my grandmother's and aunt's farms in places that lagged behind the rest of the country in conveniences like indoor plumbing and electricity. Washing with a wringer washer (or worse, a tub) was a physical workout like you can't get at the gym now. Very hard work, as was ironing--you really had to put your whole body into it.

    When you had to preserve the food your family would eat all winter or bake all the week's bread or grow all your own vegetables and fruit and meat and eggs or sew everyone's clothes, life was a neverending round of hard labor (for both men and women, but we're discussing women's work). I think they set a regular schedule to make sure they got things done and to give themselves some sense of control over the workload.

  7. Chris, I think if my Mom could drive and had a car, she would have not followed such a schedule. I don't think her mother did, but I'm pretty sure her mother-in-law did because my aunts on that side kept to the washing on Monday, etc. schedule. She was a young bride and probably felt intimidated by her inlaws. I agree with you totally, Chris. You're lucky you had a mother like that.

  8. Warren, we lived across from my grandparents' farm, but except for a cow when I was very young and a flock of chickens most of my growing up years, Grandpa switched to grain farming. This particular grandmother didn't grow many vegetables that I recall and didn't bake bread - at least not after her kids were grown and gone. She probably did more of that while they still lived at home.

    Warren, I still gather eggs everyday. :-) Not many because my flock is only a few hens, and I give most of my eggs away.

  9. You're right E.B. Life revolved around agriculture more so than today. Although my parents didn't farm, they did keep a sizeable garden and did a lot of canning.

    Like you I maintained more of a schedule when my kids were still at home. I, too, love the freedom of not having to fix meals, etc. except when I'm hungry and then only what appeals to me at the time.

  10. Unknown, I still follow a certain schedule like making my bed as soon as I get dressed and washing the dishes (no dishwasher) after supper. When I was working full time, I tried to get as much done as possible so my weekends would be free. Now? I just don't worry as much about the state of my house. :-)

  11. Pat, I sort of grew up on a farm since I lived across the road from my parents so I don't have those feelings exactly. My experiences with their farm was all fun. Running through the woods and fields with cousins, catching tadpoles in the spring, etc. However, my sister and her husband were dairy farmers for years and that is a hard life I'd never want to live.

  12. I totally agree with you, Linda. I know my grandmother on my father's side raised eleven kids, kept a garden and raised chickens and washed in a laundry tub until the modern wringer washer came along. Much of her married life was in a coal patch town in PA where she had to constantly battle coal dust in a house that belonged to the company, and she cared that her family always looked clean and presentable.