Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Family History Writing Challenge - Delivering the Laundry

I am still writing for the daily writing challenge.  Only 18 days to go.  I know I will still be writing, I just don't think I will feel so much pressure to get it done by a certain time.  I keep thinking about coming up with 250 words.  How can I make the story 150 words?  Usually when I start writing I come up with way more than that, but as I am getting started it seems almost impossible.  Oh well, here's my attempt today:

This is a story about my childhood and an incident that occurred that has always stayed in my memory.  I was probably about 10 or 11 years old. 

 My dad and mom were struggling financially, which was the norm for my family.  They had a lot of children and dad had a hard time finding work that paid much of anything.  My dad had quit school in second grade.  His reading and writing skills were not very good at all.  What always amazed me though was the fact that he could solve math problems in his head faster than I could get the problem into a calculator. You give him a triple digit multiplication problem, it would only take him a couple of seconds to solve it. 

My mom always did everything she could to help out with the finances.  She always grew anything she could in a garden in our backyard.  She canned and made jellies and jams.  There were people in our church that always offered her extras from their garden, if she was willing to come and get them from the garden.  We searched for mushrooms, picked fresh berries, dug potatoes, and anything else to help the family make ends meet.  Well my mom also did the hard work of taking in other peoples laundry.  

In the sixties when you did laundry it meant washing with a wringer washer and hanging it out to dry.  The laundry always smelled so good, it was the freshest smell you could imagine.  Those clothes then had to be ironed.  My mom would always spray them with a mister and then roll them up.  I guess there were no steam irons then either.  If they existed, my mom didn't have one.  She would stand at the ironing board for hours, ironing other peoples clothes.  They had to be perfect, no creases, except where creases should be. I don't think it paid very much for all the work involved, but she could stay at home with us and earn money.  

One day, mom had finished up with the laundry for one of her best customers.  She didn't have gas in the car and she needed to deliver a basket of laundry and she still had lots of ironing to get finished.  I thought about this and told mom I wanted to help her out.  I said, "I can take the basket to Mrs Hisle's house, its not far away."  She asked, "Are you sure you know how to get there.  I said, "Sure, we go there all the time!"  It was only a few blocks away.  I had been in the car with mom many times when we went there.  

Well I took the basket and started down the street.  The further I went the heavier that basket got!  I sat down and rested with the basket for a little while and thought it's not that much further so I should keep going.  I picked up that basket, that by now was hurting my hands, and took off again.  As I kept trudging along, I started to question where her house was.  

I had turned one corner then another, I was tired from carrying that heavy laundry.  I started to get scared.  I wasn't sure if I was going the right way.  I 
turned another corner and things started to look strange.  Then I was really scared.  There was a concrete ledge that ran along the sidewalk there that was about a foot high.  I sat down on it and rested.  I looked down the street in both directions.  I thought what if I keep going and it's not the right way and I get lost.  My mom had never let my sister and I get far from home.  She really needed my help that day or she probably would never have let me go.  I started to cry.  I began wondering if I knew how to get back home.  

This is when I  wished my little sister would have come with me.  She was always the adventurous one.  She wouldn't have been scared.  She would have just said, "Come on, let's keep going!"  After I sat, cried, and thought for a while, I decided mom would want me to come back home.  She wouldn't want me to be lost.  So I turned around and headed back home to mom.  The way back didn't seem so long.

When I got back home to mom, I sat down the basket and ran to mom and starting crying.  I said, " Mom, I got lost! I didn't know how to get there."  She hugged me and told me that was fine, she would take care of it.  She said, "Mrs Hisle will understand."  

When dad came home, he had money for gas.  We got in the car and drove to deliver all mom's laundry.  She went to Mrs. Hisle's house first, we didn't have a phone back then so she couldn't just call her and let her know we were going to be late with the laundry.  When we drove there I watched out the window and saw the way I had gone.  I saw the curb where I sat down and told mom that I was there.  A half block on down the street sat Mrs. Hisle's house.  If I had just continued another half block I would have been able to deliver the laundry.  

When we took the laundry in, Mrs. Hisle just laughed and said, "I already had on these clothes, I didn't need those until tomorrow."  She was one of the nicest ladies I had ever known.  She was older and she had a boyfriend, which I always thought was funny.  Her boyfriend was Roy Miller, my first husband's grandfather.

Well I guess I am long-winded because there is more than 250 words!


  1. Mrs. Hisle sounds just as practical as grandpa. No wonder she was his girlfriend!

    1. I always liked her! And your grandpa seemed to really enjoy spending time with her.


  2. You were such a cute kid, Betty! Your mom sounds like such a lovely, kind person.

    1. Thanks, My mom was very special to me.


  3. I like your writing, Also I am seeking information on Rebecca Pickett/Piggott who married David Brewer near Portsmouth Ohio in the late 1840's. Do you know of any connection to your mother's family?

  4. Thank you. I don't know anything on Rebecca. I am still searching the Pickett/Piggott line. I finally figured out which of the Pickett's was actually my 3 great grandfather. There are so many is was hard to tie it down. Are you Pickett's Quaker?