Back in the good old days, in the depression era, the #2 galvanized tub was as versatile and necessary in our house as a modern-day washing machine, shower and bathtub are today.
On wash day, as the boys brought their full buckets into the house, they emptied the water into the tub that had been put on the stove. There it would be heated for a future project. The tub would be about 2/3 full, and it would take some time for it to get hot enough to start the washing.
During that time Mom began sorting a batch of red beans by pouring them from one hand to the other, blowing on them to get out the smaller debris and picking out tiny rocks, dirt clods and other dregs until she was satisfied the beans were clean enough for our consumption. After rinsing them good, she poured cold water over them. Then she covered them with a lid and sat the big kettle on the back of the stove where it would stay the rest of the day, cooking slowly.
When she finished tending the beans, she began kneading down a batch of home-made light bread in the dishpan. At the right consistency, the bread dough was covered with a clean dish towel and set in a warm place behind the stove out of the draft.
Mom had three calluses on each hand from washing clothes all of those years. There was one on each "little" finger, one on each "ring" finger and one on the heel of each hand. They did not disappear until many years after she obtained an electric washing machine.
Mom also made her own starch. She began with a paste of flour and water to which she added boiling water. (No matter how hard she tried to get all of the lumps out, she always managed to leave one or two in, that invariably got stuck to one of my dresses, usually under one of the arms, or on my back where I couldn't reach.) When she felt the mixture was smooth enough she added cold water, thinning it to the proper consistency.
When the clothes were all tended to, she retrieved the dishpan full of bread dough from behind the stove where it had doubled in size. She greased the loaf-pans with bacon drippings, pinched a chunk of dough, shaped it, rolled it and laid it in the container, gently shaping it and smoothing it to fit the pan in which it would remain until it came out of the oven about 11/2 hours later.
Eventually we all rallied around the table for a much deserved, hearty meal of hot light bread and freshly cooked beans.
Mary L. Hodson
Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.