Little Girls and Loads of Laundry

Conversation with Mildred Seddlemeyer
Fall of 1994
(with Ruth Everson)

Ruth:
Here's some pictures that show how your family grew after you had gotten married. First there was one, then there was two, and finally, a little bit later, there were three. Three little girls.

Mildred:
That's right.

Ruth:
Well, what do you remember about raising little children on the farm? That wasn't easy, I wouldn't think.

Mildred:
No, it wasn't. We didn't have no washer or dryer yet those days. You had to hang out those diapers everyday.

Ruth:
And how did you wash them? Did you have a washing machine?

Mildred:
Oh yes -- it was a wringer washing machine. We had to heat the water too you know.

Ruth:
What would you do, boil it?

Mildred:
Sure! In a big copper wash-boiler, the evening before. That was always a job. I had homemade soap, you know. That had to be sliced off, and you put that in the evening before. See, that would soften up then. Then you'd heat it the next morning. The first thing you had to do was turn on the heater, you know. I heated it on a kerosene stove.

Ruth:
Oh, I thought maybe you put that wash-boiler on a wood stove.

Mildred:
No, see, I had that extra -- that was called a summer kitchen in that old house. And then that water heated out, and then you poured it in the washer.

Ruth:
You would hang the diapers out on the line, then. What if it was rainy or cold?

Mildred:
Well, you just brought them in, and you had a clothes rack. We had a wood-burning furnace, you know. And then we had heat, you know, and a register, and you put a clothes rack over the register and hung your diapers on there. That's what I did during the winter.

Ruth:
I think we were all born in the winter months.

Mildred:
That's right, you were!

Ruth:
Yeah, you had a lot of diapers to do in the winter months. But then in the summer months you were busy doing gardening and of course taking care of the chickens --

Mildred:
And helping with the milking, too.

Ruth:
And so how could you do all that? Or sometimes Daddy would have to do that by himself, too, if you couldn't get away from the kids. If they were crying or sick or something like that.

Mildred:
But once you got to be by yourselves then I would leave you, too, you know, for an hour or so. You'd be by yourselves. Later on I was told you sometimes would get into arguments, too.

Ruth: [laughing]
Oh, I can't believe that!

Mildred:
Oh yeah, I bet you did!

Ruth:
Were we pulling hair or hitting?

Mildred:
I wouldn't know... A few times I think you got into some things that were underneath the sink or something, you know.

Ruth:
You left us with instructions to be good, I suppose.

Mildred:
Oh sure. I imagine so.



Transcribed by Bart Everson