Mind Pictures 2

{This continues on from my blog entry of yesterday}

When my mother was seven months pregnant with her ninth and last child we lived in temporary housing while our new home was completed. The temporary housing was a fruit picker’s camp and there was only an open fire for cooking and no clothes washing facilities at all. The camp was situated on the bank of the river so my father or one of the older lads had set up a washing place on the river bank and made a place for the tin tub to sit. It was here that Mum did the washing, lifting all the water she needed from the river in a four-gallon tin and so filling the copper and the tub for rinsing. In retrospect I am not sure if she had the copper set up or if she actually boiled the clothes in the tins [these were tins in which kerosene was purchased at that time, hence they were called kerosene tins]. The tops were cut open and hammered smooth round the edges and a wire handle was affixed. May women used them on open fires or wood heated stove tops for laundry work.
The mind pictures are clear, for my duty was to sit in a safe place away from the boiling copper or tins, and keep my two younger brothers and sister occupied. I was nearing ten at the time and so considered old enough to be trusted with this task. The youngest child was my only sister, then sixteen months old. I was also responsible to watch the new baby when he arrived a couple of months after my tenth birthday until our new home was ready. He was not much trouble, being too small to do anything other than lie in a makeshift bed nearby.
Women of my mother’s era accepted these types of conditions as normal, and indeed, for most women they were. When I recall the hard work they did and their uncomplaining natures I mentally bow to their temperament and patience, their fortitude and courage, and to their plain “getting on with life” attitudes.

{to be continued}

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