History or Her Story (Part 3)

“Mum and Dad were proud of the house Dad built at Lidcombe and though it was sparsely furnished with few floor coverings, Mum kept it spotless and the hall and bedrooms were stained brown. This was kept clean and shining by the use of a kerosene duster. A mop was soaked in kerosene and allowed to dry right out and rubbed over the floors. When soiled, it was washed in hot water from the copper after the clothes were boiled and then treated again with kerosene. The kitchen floor was left unstained and by the time Mum and Dad could afford linoleum, the floor had been scrubbed so much it was hairy, but the timber was snow white. The kitchen, bathroom and verandah etc were scrubbed with sand soap and again hot washing water from the copper, a ‘down on the knees’ job, hand scrubbed.

The gas stove was pulled apart and all parts boiled in the copper to free them of cooking grease. Mum didn’t like the gas stove and was happy when Dad put in a fuel stove, the wood was chopped each night, ready to light up each day. The stove was cleaned regularly with a cake of sooty black substance called Stove Black, it was rubbed over a warm stove and polished.

All washing (except woollens) was soaked overnight in washing soda, hand scrubbed and boiled in the copper with soda and flaked soap, hand rinsed, dipped in blue rinse and hand wrung. After they were hung out and dried, they were dampened down to iron, with most cotton articles being lightly starched. With six children to wash for, it was no wonder Mum soaked her aching feet in hot water each night to ease them.

Mum and her friends often found time to chat, play with and entertain the children, keep their husbands happy and were not always at the doctors. Home remedies were tried first. An infected sore was bandaged with a soap and sugar poultice to draw out the pus. Sore throats were wrapped in a small towel wrung out of cold water, then loosely covered with a woollen scarf and a good night’s sleep usually cure the sore throat. A dish of hot water with a few drops of Eucalyptus oil added, a towel draped over the head and the steam inhaled, followed by a hot lemon drink and a snug bed did wonders for a head cold.”