Growing up at our house, and many other homes around the neighborhood, where water was hauled and had to be heated on the stove, doing dishes was not the chore it might seem.

While the water heated in the metal dishpan, plates were scraped into the ‘hog bucket’ and any left over food taken care of.  One pan filled and powdered soap stirred in for cleaning, the ‘rinch’ pan often left on the stove to keep the rinse water  hot. Cotton towels for drying, I don’t remember a home with a rack for drying dishes.

During summer months, especially, when often one or another friend would come to ‘stay the night’, the cleanup and dishwashing was eased by the company and word games. If several were around, it was often ‘Paper, stones and scissors’ that chose who would wash, rinse and who would dry.

While the dishes were being cleaned, we played “I packed my grandmothers trunk”, in many variations, rounds of ‘I spy’ or ’20 questions’ would break the monotony of the task. Sometimes a spelling bee was held, if there was a ‘word caller’. Singing could be heard on a regular basis as voices practiced for specials at church or shared a new lyric learned from the radio.

Time went quickly, the job soon done. The kitchen floor would be swept and the rinse water used to mop the floor.  Used dishwater, cooled was emptied out the back door, on grass, garden or flowers. It was precious and not to be wasted.

Now,I have a sink, running water, hot and cold, and a rack to let dishes air dry. I kind of miss those days, and the ‘hardship’.

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