Daily Archives: July 27, 2010


Struggling for a topic I began writing a list of chores I need to do today.  I was reminded of other lists.  Mammy’s lists.

They were usually written on the corner of the enamel topped kitchen table.  It might go like this:


The stamps were for the four letters she wanted to reply to before the weekend.  She was the letter writer in the family.  Unlike today where it is possible to weigh and then purchase the postage online, we needed to walk to the Post office and stand in line to get the stamps.

Buttons missing from coats, jackets or shirts were a regular occurrence with the gang of boys in the house.  The task of replacing them was passed to me.  It was one job I actually enjoyed.

Ironing seemed to be endless there were always shirts, dresses and the tablecloths & napkins that needed to be dipped in the cold water starch.  Do you remember the little boxes of Robin Starch powder.  The collars and cuffs of the shirts were dipped in the bowl of starch first and then squeezed out and then folded onto the front of the shirt and rolled, it was then set on a tray and soon the bundle became a mound as the others were added.  Dresses were next and they were added to the pile.  Finally the tablecloths and napkins were immersed and the starch allowed to soak into them.  Again they were squeezed out (all this squeezing was done by hand!) and placed on the tray.

There was an order to ironing and no way would it change.  SHIRTS WERE FIRST!   Daddies first, and then the boys.  The were all folded and you would think they had just come out of the packet.  It was not unusual to have 15 shirts to iron at a session, add to that blouses and dresses for mammy, my sister and myself and then five or six tablecloths a week.  To this day if something is spilled on a table cloth a chant will ring out “This is the fifth table cloth this week”!

Grass was one for the boys, it was one way to use up excess energy.  The garden at the back was large and long.  It was mainly grass with narrow borders.  In my very young days we had a trellis about a third of the way down and behind it were ten apple trees.

The top patch was where we played and if the ball hit the kitchen or French windows twice we were banished to the field over the wall at the end of the garden.

Windows. A bucket of cold water with a good dash of vinegar, the chamois and newspapers were the tools for this task.  We all had turns at cleaning windows.  Mammy would do the inside and send one of us outside to finish the job.  All panes were closely inspected and many times we were sent back outside in the cold of winter to re do a pane or two.

Bread this usually meant that the supplies were running short and another batch needs to be made before morning!  If time was short it might be a batch of white and brown scones!

Shoes at least eight pairs, one for each member of the family.  We older children had this task.  Daddy never polished a shoe in his life.  At least by the end of the task all frustrations were well worked off and the line of gleaming shoes was pleasing.

What was on your list?