Exhausted! Started Fall Housecleaning

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, September 1, 1911:

Glorious skies of balmy September,

Tells us of approaching fall

With its leaves of varied colors,

And it’s flowers for large and small.

Celebrated the first day of this month by starting to clean house. We cleaned the sitting room today, and it was an all day job. I’m so tired from exerting myself.

Old Carpet Beater

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Yuck—it sounds like a lot of work. Grandma, her sister Ruth, and her mother were probably starting to do the fall housecleaning.  A hundred years ago houses got a deep cleaning twice a year—in the spring and in the fall.

Furniture would be moved so that carpets could be rolled up and then taken outside to be beaten, every corner and cranny would have been swept, floors would have  been waxed, the wooden furniture would have  been polished, the windows washed, etc., etc., etc.

No wonder Grandma was exhausted. Just making this list is making me tired.

(See  previous post for more information about the poems on the first day of each month.)

4 Responses

  1. Does anyone house clean like that anymore? My mother used to do a spring house cleaning during our spring break from school, and I had to help. All closets were emptied of their contents, and resorted and organized, curtains all came down and were washed… I don’t remember washing walls… My mother’s house is still very clean, but I don’t think mine measures up!

  2. So true! I remember my Gramma still cleaning her house like that (without the same vigor, of course) well into her 80s. My Mom talked about wiping down the ‘base boards’ (the wood trim around the perimeters of the floors) as one of her jobs when she was young. The top edge would collect so much dust because back then they heated with a combination of wood and oil. Messy! When we were young we would go to Gramma’s house and wash the wallpaper in the kitchen. WOW! Times sure have changed!

    One thing my Gramma did as she got older was to wash one pair of curtains (she had sheers) each Monday on wash day. She couldn’t do them all at once anymore, so she figured each week she’d have a clean pair, then by the time she got around to the first pair again, she’d be ready to start all over.

    Yeah, my house isn’t nearly so clean…

    • Whew, it’s amazing how much effort people once put into keeping a home clean. I can’t remember the last time that I cleaned my curtains (and I’m not going to look too hard to check if they need it).

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