Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Today was ironing day. No electric irons here. The irons were heated directly on the wood range, necessitating a good hot fire. Today the extra heat was welcome in the house. Ina also took advantage of the warm oven to make more cinnamon raisin bread as a mid-morning treat.

Shirley at clothesline in '30s
Ironing was tiring work --  lifting a heavy iron from the stove, quickly smoothing the fabric, then exchanging the cooled iron for a hot one and smoothing again. Because the day was short, an early start wasn't possible. Shirley, always a cheerful, uncomplaining worker, agreed to do the ironing so that Ina could finish the rag doll.

So, Ina sat at the dining room table sewing yarn “hair” onto the doll’s head. Oh yes! She was shaping up nicely, and Ina was having a good time. Just then she looked up from her work to see an elderly couple coming through the gate. “Now who would call on a Tuesday,” she exclaimed.  Then recognizing their neighbors, she said to Shirley, “Is the coffee still hot? Mr. and Mrs. Boehm are coming to the door.”

Ina was a methodical housekeeper and never minded impromptu callers, but everyone knew that Tuesday was ironing day when a housewife wouldn't appreciate interruption. The Boehms surely had a particular reason to call today. Ina waited politely until she heard the knock at the front door. Then she cordially invited the Boehms into the warmth of her dining room. Mr. Boehm declined and excused himself to find Jack at the barn.

“Oh, Ina,” said Mrs. Boehm, “we can’t stay. Please forgive my calling on ironing day, but Bertha said Ethel is coming for Christmas and you’re making a doll for little Sadie. And Ina, I just wondered if you could use these fabric scraps for doll clothes. Lots of them are from feed sacks, but there are a few others as well.”
Ina and sister Bertha

Sometimes Ina was impatient with Bertha’s gossip, but this time she silently blessed her.

Ina was at a loss for words to show her gratitude. She had known the Boehms, a generation older than she, since they all homesteaded here. A part of survival was that neighbor shared with neighbor. They had been doing it since the beginning. She said simply, “Thank you. This fills a need.” Mrs. Boehm nodded understandingly.

True to their word, the Boehms didn’t stay long. Mr. Boehm soon returned to the house to retrieve his wife. Over their protests, Ina put some of Sunday’s pot roast into a quart jar and slipped it into Mrs. Boehm’s satchel, knowing that the dear old couple could use a prepared meal. As they left, Ina invited them to dinner on Christmas Day, and the Boehms gladly accepted.

After the callers departed, Ina finished sewing yarn onto the dolls head and then braided it. Tomorrow she would embroider the doll’s face. KW


Chris said...

WOW!! You are a master of doll hair! I am so impressed!! I am loving this story.

(And I found my doll! She is meant to be kind of a primitive one, so her "hair" is simply a row of french knots around her face.)

Kathy said...

Well, her hair looks good in the picture. I plan to re-braid it and then tack it to keep it from flopping back.

Did you make your doll's hair with yarn or embroidery thread? Is she sitting where she can keep you company?

When my mother moved to senior living, she made a rag doll from a kit and tacked her to the bottom of her door. She enlivened a rather plain area of the hallway.

Chris said...

Her hair is made of yarn and she's sitting on a stool next to me here at my desk. I notice the black print on her red dress has faded where the sun hit it and her face (drawn with pigma pens) is in need of a freshening. Perhaps I'll be brave later and re-do her. I think she also had cheeks of blush.

Hallie said...

Cute little doll quilt, too! Wasn't the doll that Grandma had at the bottom of her door serving a dual purpose as a draft stopper?

Kathy said...

I made that cute little quilt using a pack of '30's reproduction 5" squares. I should do more small quilts like that to improve my skills.

Yes, your grandma's doll was a draft stopper. I don't think that's why she wanted her, though. She was a kit in a catalog, and Grandma wanted something unique for her door. She was clever, even then.

Kathy said...

Oh -- and Chris commented that her doll has faded in sunlight, etc. I never noticed the fading of textiles so much in Lewiston or Orofino, but at the farm the sunlight fades everything -- picture, book covers, textiles, Christmas ornaments. Mother's draft stopper doll sat on her door for five years where it seemed to me she wasn't badly exposed, but she was showing her age a bit when we took her down. I think sister Joni took her and I have no idea if she survives.