Galvanized Tub was Versatile Tool in Depression Era Homes

Oregon woman recalls using galvanized tub for washing clothes, dishes, and family members during the depression era.

| Good Old Days

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.

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