Every spring, the farm home was cleaned from top to bottom (with the exception of the attics). When the snow was gone, mom had all the equipment ready and she solicited help from all her daughters to attain perfection (I was nine years old). Keep in mind that we still did not have electricity, which excluded a vacuum or a stove for heating water. Mom kept the "cook stove" fired up so we would always have water for cleaning and scrubbing.
How do you start? The basement was first; dad had the dirty job of cleaning the ashes from the furnace. After that, it was my job to clean the walls and floors in the corner room that had been the home of the wood for the furnace. The walls needed to be swept down and the floors also swept and swabbed with a mop. I did usually encounter some creepy-crawlers, but they squished nicely and became part of the dirt pile -- which I carried in a pail and emptied outdoors in the weed patch behind the trees. At the same time, my sisters were busy wiping down the shelves that had been home to the canned goods. By this time of the year, the jars of fruit and vegetables were almost completely gone. Next, they needed to sweep out the potato bin. Then, together we washed the basement windows -- one of us inside, the other out.
There were five bedrooms in the house, four of which had metal beds with mattresses filled with straw and hay. Each mattress made its way outside to be propped up against a tree. There it would get a good beating on both sides with a clean broom. Also, on each bed there was a feather filled mattress cover and a feather filled coverlet. My mother removed the washable covers, cleaned them in the little gas-powered washer, then hung them outside to dry. The insides were taken to the clothes line to get their beating and to hang for a while to air in the sunshine.
All the walls in the house were swept down and the curtains removed from the windows to be washed and hung in the sunshine. The curtains were all made of washable organdy or cotton lace. The spring air made them smell like sunshine and the fresh outdoors. Any furniture that could be handled by us was carried outdoors, placed on the sidewalk and washed with soap and water from top to bottom. If the kitchen chairs and table were scuffed and chipped, they would get yet another coat of paint -- ugly blue.
The remaining furniture would be washed or dusted in place. The floors were either hardwood or covered with linoleum. Every square inch of flooring was scrubbed with soap and water. If the linoleum was badly worn and scuffed, this was the time of the year uncle would replace it. The linoleum was purchased in town where it was sold by the roll in extremely ugly patterns and colors.
The very hardest job of all took all of us and uncle, as well. This was removal of the storm windows, washing both sides of each window pane and installing the screen windows. Some of the upstairs windows were accessible by walking on the porch roof -- which extended on two sides of the home. However, that left the windows on the other
two sides to be reached by a tall ladder. This was before the days of self-store screens; the screens were not easy to put in place. Since I hate heights, I was always glad when uncle completed that job.
I must say it felt good to have a fresh, clean home. My mother was fortunate to have daughters to help her with all the work. Now we could get ready for spring planting and for the little baby chicks.
Respectfully submitted,
Laura W. Berglund Copyright March 2019