True vintage housewife

Growing up, I have observed both my grandmother and my mother's housekeeping practices. Practices which have not changed much in routines, but definitely in convenience.

There are better appliances to shorten laundry duties and I can remember my Nana washing her clothes by hand after boiling them up in an old copper. She would then place them in a centrifugal spinner and grind it by hand. My earliest memories of her are of an old woman propping up her washing on an outside line with a wooden pole, attaching the clothes with wooden dolly pegs.

She cooked in an outside kitchen on an old stove called a Metters. No electric toaster, my fondest memories of her food were jaffles: toasted sandwiches heated with a jaffle iron. Her fridge was an ice chest.

My mother on giving birth to my twin and myself, boiled up our nappies in an old kerosene tin, hand washing them and hanging them out to dry, sharing Nana's old clothesline and dolly pegs. There were no disposable nappies in her day, in fact here in Australia, they didn't become available until the early 1970's. 

When we moved out of Nana's, my memories of her housekeeping were replaced by those of my Mum's as she took care of her own home. Mum had a definite routine.

Monday mornings were her do through day. That rarely took second place to anything else, in fact the whole week was organised round it. Polishing furniture, mirrors and linoleum floors with an electric polisher (twice, once to spread the polish, then again with lambswool pads to buff it) and bath cleaning were uppermost in her routine.

Everyday was wash day. Mum boiled up her copper and transferred the water and clothes into her wringer washing machine. She then rinsed them out in her concrete laundry sink, wringing them out again, then she hung them out on the Hills hoist clothesline. She didn't have a dryer.

Also everyday was maintenance day. Mum never ever left dishes unwashed or beds unmade. The bathroom and toilet were attended to daily as well. Mum ironed clothes as soon as they came off the line. Carpets were swept with a carpet sweeper, vacuuming done on Mondays.

We children always dried the dishes and Mum first had to boil the kettle as she had no hot water service in the early days. She used Velvet soap to wash her dishes whilst the kettle boiled a second time to rinse them. Then we would be called to dry them. We made our own beds with Mum changing them on Monday.

Mum cooked everything from scratch as there were no easy instant packets back then. She made lambs tongue for our sandwiches, pressing them under the heavy kitchen table leg, in a bowl with a saucer as a lid overnight. In the morning they were set in lovely gelatin. We  were happy to eat tripe cooked in onions and milk and even enjoyed the occasional treat of lambs brains on toast.

Although we were classified as poor, Mum refused to feed us dripping but brought butter for our sandwiches. Like her own mother, she kept a good table.

Most of the housewives in my childhood had their children off to school and their houses clean by 9am and only then would they socialise. There was a different attitude to home making than today, with women having a generally contented feeling in looking after their home well.

I am grateful for all our labour saving devices today, but I lament the chats over the fence that we still enjoyed when I was a young mother and homemaker. If one runs out of sugar, no one is home now if you want to borrow some!

There was a supportive camaraderie that is hard to find these days as a stay at home wife. It's times like that that I envy the vintage housewife.

© Glenys Robyn Hicks

They helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage. Isaiah 41:6


  1. As a child, I remember much friendship among the women in the neighborhood. And nothing can quite catch the beautiful smell of clothes hung out to dry :)

    1. As a stay at home wife, I find that no one is home much during the day. My interaction is usually online with lovely Sisters like you, Joanne. Thanks for sharing a cuppa with me today. Blessings, Glenys

  2. Hello Glenys! Our mothers and grandmothers worked a lot harder around the house than we do, didn't they? I remember my mom and "ironing day." She would set up the ironing board and iron all our clothes and even the pillow cases and kitchen towels! They certainly didn't need a pedometer to measure steps or a gym membership to keep moving. Truth be told, though, I'll take hiking and the gym over housework! Thanks for linking up on #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty. I have shared on social media. Have a lovely day!


    1. Yes, they sure worked hard! I think I am with you on other activities over housework. I love writing and knitting and reading and studying French and Italian languages and doing Bible studies. Can't hike or go to the gym because of chronic illness, but I have to psyche myself up to do housework! :) Thanks for taking tea with me today, Christie. Blessings, Glenys

  3. Hi there, all is going sound here and ofcourse every one
    is sharing data, that's genuinely fine, keep up writing.

    1. Thanks for sharing a cuppa with me today!

  4. The comraderie is definitely in short supply as everyone races around to the next thing on the list. I still have a 'cleaning day' when I get the big things taken care of and then relax in a nicely tended home. #GlobalBlogging

    1. Yes we can't even relieve the loneliness by asking to borrow a cup of sugar: no one is home anymore! thanks for sharing a cuppa with me today, Heather. Blessings, Glenys


Thank you for visiting with me today. I love to hear from you. I may not always be able to reply right away, but I will respond to every comment you leave. Blessings and comfort, Glenys