Sunday, September 13, 2009

Reflections by the Fire

Tonight Lily and I sat by the fire outside talking about her childhood in Ireland.  I asked her many questions and her memory seemed to serve her well tonight.

"Mom what chores did you do as a kid?"

"Well I didn't do too many.  I don't remember making my bed.  My mother would leave the dishes for me to do.  We had to go out by the road to pump the water and haul it back.  That would be my job.  (She indicated it was about 25').  I use to sweep the cement floor and help to carry in the turf  for the fire.  Sean (her brother) would have to go by cart and pony to the town where the men used shovels at the bog to cut turf in the shape of bricks which we would use in the fire to keep the house warm and to cook.  The house had one big room with a kitchen and 2 small bedrooms, only one fireplace."

"Did your family celebrate Christmas?"

"Oh yeah.  My mother had colored bulbs on wire that she would string across the room.  No Christmas tree.  We exchanged presents some years more presents than others.  Of course nothing like today.  She would make Christmas dinner--roast beef, spuds, carrots, and Christmas pudding or cake.  We would go to church on Christmas day."

"How did you take a bath and where did you go to the bathroom?"

"We use to cart buckets of water from the pump beside the road and heat the water in the fire and then fill a tub sitting on the floor in one of the bedrooms.  I took a bath about 3 times a week.  When we went to the bathroom we use a "po" , a white bowl with a handle and then we had to empty it. We thought that was great.  To do number 2 we had to climb a hill out back and bring some cloths to wipe which we would later wash.  When they got too bad we would throw them away.  Women used cloths when they got their periods also."

"What type of foods did you eat?"

"Well mom made a loaf of bread everyday in the fire.  Brown crust on the outside and white in the middle and we ate it all in one day. We usually packed bread, jam, and butter for school everyday.  We had oatmeal and eggs although I didn't like eggs. Sometimes she would make applesauce with apples.  Every evening we had beef or pork, my mom didn't like chicken but if we didn't have other meat she would go outside, grab a chicken and wring its neck and cook it. I used to run away because I didn't want to see it.  We always had spuds and a vegetable.  Our food was very normal in the war years.  Sugar was rationed though and saved for the tea.  We had plenty of milk which was not cold.  I didn't like it so I wouldn't drink it.  I drank tea and water." 

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