Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spring Cleaning, Lead Paint and A Big Chief Headdress

Say "Spring Cleaning" to me and so many things come to mind - not least of which was the flap last month about why women today are bigger than those of previous generations - "because they don't do as much housework". There was a time when a statement like that would have had my feminist self up in arms. Now I just think it is probably true - at least for me. I certainly don't clean as thoroughly as I used to.
My granddaughter Katrina is probably the only one I know who deep cleans. A few years ago she was getting ready to host our family at Thanksgiving. She told me she was taking all the dishes out of the cupboards, washing them and wiping out the cupboards before putting them back. My thoughts at the time were that she was going to way too much trouble. Just having us there and doing all the cooking was enough, I thought.

 I was raised on the edict of spring cleaning. Curtains were taken down, washed, starched, and put on the curtain stretchers to dry; windows were washed before putting them back up. The big area rugs were hung over the clothesline and beaten; all the throw rugs were washed. And ALL the woodwork was scrubbed. That is where either Spic and Span or Kitchen Klatter Kleaner came in. Mom would measure the granulated cleaner into a bucket of warm water and set us girls to work.

And a lot of work it was for not only was there woodwork around all the doors and windows to clean, the entire big kitchen was ringed by wainscoting. You can see some of it in the background of this picture. In 1954 it was still there as well as the old oak wall-mounted telephone. (Just to the left of this cute little brother's head.)
Not only did we have to wash all that wainscoting, we had to go back over it again with clean water to rinse it. If I had just known about the dangers of lead paint at the time I would probably have tried to convince Mom that I shouldn't be near that woodwork, let alone washing it! (Anything to get out of helping spring clean.)

But we didn't know about lead paint then and there were plenty of partially used cans of it stored out in the wash house. One summer Betty and I opened a few of them to facilitate our playing cowboys and Indians.

One of those too expensive toys I longed for was a big chief headdress. If I just had one of those feather headdresses, I would look more authentic. (Like those dime-store headdresses were authentic.) But wait, we had chickens -there were all kinds of feathers floating about. Trouble was, they were white. That was when I remembered all those cans of unused paint. We dipped feathers in them and put the feathers out in the sun to dry. Of course we had paint all over our clothes and ourselves. I especially remember there being a lot of the color orchid as well as having a problem trying to figure out how to attach the feathers to something to make it look like a headdress. I think we finally just stuck feathers in our hair - resulting in paint in our hair, too.

Katrina and I did not talk about spring cleaning when she called a few days ago, but she did tell me a cute story about her son Rodney. Their electricity had been interrupted when a back hoe working nearby severed the lines. It was Rodney's first experience of the lights and t.v. not working. Katrina lit some candles and told him they would read or color until the electricity came back on. "No t.v.? no games? no movies?" he wondered. It was hard for him to understand the concept.
They were reading and waiting when suddenly Rodney excitedly touched his Mom's arm and pointed up to the ceiling. The fan had started going around. He jumped down and ran for the remote. That's one smart great-grandson I've got.  I wonder how Katrina would feel about washing woodwork while he and I played some video games?

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