Monday, December 14, 2015


Here we are at laundry day again. Jack carried and heated the water and set the wash tubs near the stove. When the water was ready, Ina and Shirley set to work. They washed white clothes first, then the coloreds, and finally Jack’s dirty clothes. As the various “loads” were finished, Jack carried them to the sunporch where Ina hung them. It was a day of hard work for all three of them. The pity was that clothes don’t dry well on short, damp, winter days. After supper, Ina moved some of the heavier things to a rack in the kitchen.

Once the laundry was finished, it was a perfect time to mop the kitchen floor, which Shirley did while Ina finished hanging the clothes.

Yesterday – Sunday – Ina had enjoyed a restful afternoon quietly writing Christmas cards. As darkness fell, Jack lit the Aladdin lamp above the dining room table, and Ina appreciated not only the light but the heat generated by the lamp.
Jack, Vance, Myrtle, Ina, Shirley -- Ethel and Earle

Tiring of the task before her, Ina began to think of her children, one by one, oldest to youngest:

Pearl, 39, lived in northern Alberta on a large farm with her husband Al and their son, Stanley. Pearl was good to write once a month but seldom visited.

Myrtle, 37 and unmarried, worked in a photography studio in Portland. The work suited her and she had managed to save some money – until she lost her investments in the “crash.”

Pearl, Ethel, Stan, Shirley Jean c. 1930
Earle, 35, was a junior high school teacher in Idaho Falls. He had been retained in his position by the school district but at a 10% reduction in pay. During summer break, Earle was an invaluable help on the farm.

Ethel, 33, was coming for Christmas with her husband Ernest and little Sadie. Ernest was a federal agent awaiting reassignment. Ethel was a trained bookkeeper / secretary but at this time did not work outside the home.

Vance, Ethel, baby Shirley c. 1911
Vance, 27, was a private piano teacher in Raymond, Washington. She wished he would come for Christmas. She missed Vance. She loved that he brought new ideas her way. And he played the piano rousingly.
And, of course, Shirley, the youngest, was still here at home – Ina’s companion and helper.

Ina thought back over 35 years of Christmas celebrations here on the homestead – the first in 1896. She treasured the memory of those 20 Christmases in the little cabin. Those Christmases were about family – her little ones coming and growing older. It was fun to see the delight in their eyes as simple treats were shared. People said that Christmas wasn’t the same once the children were grown, and Ina guessed she would have to agree. If only her children could gather again . . .

As if on cue, the phone jangled – ring ring rinnnggg – and Ina hastened to answer. It was Myrtle – or Lynn, as she liked to be called. She was coming for Christmas, she said. The good news was that the studio was closing for Christmas week and she would have the time to come home. The bad news was that she would not receive pay for the week’s closure, but she could afford the trip and was glad of the opportunity to get away. She would take the evening train on the 23rd and arrive in Orofino the 24th.

It was just the boost Ina needed.


Chris said...

Ina's house Christmas is filling up! How wonderful! (And I'm awaiting new of the nightgrown...)

Kathy said...

Ina struggles to find time to sew. Sound familiar? She does have the nightgown cut out now. Hopefully it will fit the doll. I had lots of plans for illustrating this advent series, but that's okay. There's always next year, right?

joanne walrath said...

I can picture and identify with all you are describing. I, too, long for my family to gather once more. They are closer together than they have been for a long time.