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The Day Before Yesterday: 11 - If I Live To The Year 2,000

...All curtains were washed at this time. Carpet squares (no fitted carpets) were lifted and hung over a line, and the dust was beaten out of them with something like an enlarged tennis racket. We had a carpet sweeper, hand-pushed not powered. Two tiny brushes inside did their best to pick up the bits but never did a very good job, hence the good whack with the carpet beater...

Gladys Schofield recalls the rigours of Spring cleaning in an earlier age.

One afternoon as I set off to school, I walked along the side of next door to the gate that led into the road. My young brother John was here playing on a step in the wall. Someone had removed a large stone from the top, which made a convenient step. Older people could get down if they were too lazy to open the gate.

I said goodbye to John, who was three at the time, and went on my way. I had gone quite a way when I happened to look back and not far behind me was John. I thought as a six-year-old and knew if I turned back I would be late for afternoon school, so taking his hand I decided to take him with me.

John was a sturdy little boy and halfway he decided he was tired, so I piggy-backed him for a little while. But that didn't last long; he was too heavy for me. Eventually we reached school and explained to my teacher. She let him stay in the infants, but he wet his pants, so the teacher said I had better take him home.

Mum said she had guessed where he had gone, as for days he had been pestering her to let him go to school. I always kept a lookout after that and he didn't get to go again until he was of age.

There was only sixteen months between the first two children, so Dorothy was soon of age to leave school. She stayed at home a few years helping Mum. She and Harold joined a local dancing troop and used to practice at home some evenings. Once Harold's high kick caught me under the chin when I got a bit too close. My sister could just slip down into the splits and though I tried lots of times, I could never get down completely like she could.

She made the costumes for both of them. I remember Harold's was half black and half a fine silvery colour, and Dorothy's dress was in this silver material too. They did quite a few shows. Harold had taken quite a while to be persuaded, not thinking it was quite the thing for a young man. They carried on in this troop until Dorothy was nineteen and got a job as a mender, quite a skilled job, in another of the many factories.

She had to sew in broken picks (threads) in the finished cloth. You had to follow the weave of the cloth which could be very complicated and took a while to learn. It had to be perfect; everything had to be of high standard. Jobs were few and you must prove your worth.

We were sometimes sent upstairs to play if the weather was wet, or just so the older ones could have a bit of peace. One day we were using the bed as a trampoline. These beds had a wire base, as spring interior mattresses had not been introduced. As the three of us jumped up and down I remember saying, "This is 1928. If I live to 2000, I will be eighty." Little did I think I might just do that.

This was when I started doing little jobs about the house. Washing up the dishes after tea was one job I had, helped by my sister. Sometimes my older brother gave me a hand but it was usually known as woman's work. We only had shelves in the kitchen, not like kitchens of today. The pans were placed along the top shelf and crockery on the lower one, handy for the table. With no electric appliances we didn't need so much storage space. We had a gas cooker and gaslight downstairs but we only used candles upstairs until I was nine in 1929. After that electricity was introduced into our homes.

Spring cleaning was usually carried out during the holidays, and done in a big way. The bedding for our beds were made of flocks, tiny soft woolly grey balls. Mum would open one side of the mattress and empty out the flocks into a corner of the room, wash the mattress cover and refill it. She had to choose a windy day for this process to get the whole thing accomplished in one day.

All curtains were washed at this time. Carpet squares (no fitted carpets) were lifted and hung over a line, and the dust was beaten out of them with something like an enlarged tennis racket. We had a carpet sweeper, hand-pushed not powered. Two tiny brushes inside did their best to pick up the bits but never did a very good job, hence the good whack with the carpet beater.

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