Those long ago nostalgic days of our great grand Mothers and Grandmas, can you remember your Grandmothers?
For those who had country Grandmothers......can you remember the old coal range with the Sunday roast usually cooked in lard in those days, they had griddle irons for the top of the coalrange for cooking scones etc., the irons for cloths were heated up for ironing on the coal range too....everything was labour intensive, most of what we take for granted now days with all mod cons, in those early pioneer days all was done by hand, maybe a lesson here for the lay abouts now that expect everything on a platter. wood had to be chopped and kindling gathered if you wanted to eat!
here in New Zealand early country life was a hard life for some of our Grandmas.....it was off in the early hours to the cowshed for the milk/or to milk by hand,....later days it was listening to the chug of the separator and the hissing of the cups, milk into the galvanized bucket & off home, then milk into the butter churn, and hey presto fresh silky butter..... fresh eggs from the chook run, spuds, beans etc., from the garden with freshly killed beast for meat.......or the odd rabbit or two!.
..in scarce rural times many a Mother made her children's under clothes from flour sacks, which actually were made of quite fine cotton......a layer of hand made lace around the edges and you had pretty serviceable underwear!
Kerosene lamps and home made candles were the order of the day, and how on earth they managed to see and do such beautiful needlework and crochet is a miracle in itself......
Washing days were a real hard backbreaking chore......early up to light the fire under the copper, put sheets etc., on the boil, stir around with a laundry stick.... heave the washing out into concrete tubs, cold water and blueo, then through the hand wringer, out to the clothes line, which unfortunately used to break quite regularly under the weight of heavy sodden clothes.....a kitchen garden was the order of the day with all the veges to eat and bottle, bottling was a must in Grandmas days, they bottled anything that could be bottled, times were thrifty! a house orchard was a boon with little tart damson plums for a table sauce, green gage, figs, quinces etc., and windfall apples for apple butter, jam and preserves.......
Our Grandparents were invariably migrants from the old world..England ..Europe, sailing to New Zealand in those wonderul sail boats..my gosh how hardy were they with those long skirts etc., it must have been very grueling for some..especially the children when sickess struck onboard..how happy they must have been to see land fall..mainly in the South Island in the earlier days, at Lytteton Harbour.
Of course if you were a townie Grandmother life was somewhat different...this Grandmother had access to excellent goods brought in from England to the colony, building materials, food, just about everything one could wish for came into our ports for the early settlers with means, some toffs even bought their whole houses, piece by piece and stone by stone. Both of my Grandmothers came from overseas, one from Europe and one from England, my English grandmother was middleclass/academic so they had servants in those days for cooking cleaning etc.,my Grandfather was a dispensing chemist and his two brothers Drs, one followed him to New Zealand
The town Grandmother, if her husband was in business was usually set up quite grandly with a servant or two.......the servants jobs were many and they worked very very long hours, scrubbing huge verandas, cleaning out fire grates daily, washing, scouring, cleaning, then there were the laundry maids, kitchen maids..and so on.... a mirror of little England...the maids rooms were tiny rooms up under the eaves of the grand house.......ie ALBERTON
This Grandmother's life was fairly easy peasy as compared to the country Grandma.....the town Grandmother had to organize and run her household efficiently, she would hold dinners in a grand style with all the silver and glassware bought from England on display, food from the kitchen cooked perfectly by her kitchen staff....her gown and hair done by her lady's maid....life in the colony if you had money was not too bad at all........actually quite grand with live theatre from Europe and UK performing in most large towns, a good excuse to get dressed up and show ones status in finery & jewels etc., for the wealthy, excursions via sea to the booming gold mining town of Thames was a good trip away from the city of Auckland, Thames in those days was a very vibrate busy bustling gold mining town, with many Fine hotels & theatres catering for the influx of visitors....
Both the country Grandma and the town Grandma had one thing in common, the fashion of those days included the..corset!..this torturous garment was a must for any budding girl and woman...tightly laced up the back, and stiffened with whale bone stays it gave the women of the day an hour glass waist so desired in those days but what it did to their insides is anyone's guess, as time went on the corset was designed for a looser fit which was much kinder to the feminine body...and saved on smelling salts no doubt..I see by my old photos that some of the waists of my relations were very tiny due to years of lacing no doubt!
All too soon those times have gone, tram rides, horse and carriage, homemade butter....bustles and such...life in those days was more sedate, more precise, manners were important as was etiquette, contrast today of the push button electronic society,..progress in some areas, but not in others as is seen in our rather confused state of civilization in confusion..I love my computers and touch phones ipads etc.,, but in saying that I do think we have missed out on a more slower genteel softer way of living....
Kitchens today are main abysmal, too small and not thought out..Grandothers had a larder/pantry, great for storing food stuffs, now days we have 'junk' to get rid of, in Grandmother's day we had lofts/attics where junk/stuff, furniture whatever was stored until needed by someone in the family..some attics were indeed a treasure trove of what today we would deem antiques......but such is life today.a throw away society, when did you last see a cobbler? we did have one in Waihi, and on a recent trip to THAMES, at Goldfields...was a COBBLER!!! busy re soleing shoes wow! what a great find!
Grandma used to have a 'boot room' by the back door too for putting your rain coats and gumboots etc., most larger homes had a dairy room where one's butter used to be made, and perhaps cheese, depending on the size of the house..
Country Grandmas had a clever knack of keeping vegetables fresh in a underground pit, also preserving fresh green beans in salt in jars, and preserving eggs in kerosine tins, and one kept food somewhat fresh in an outside 'safe'..which hung on the kitchen wall..
the Town Grandma would have had the new contraption called an 'icebox' to keep her food fresh & cold. Laundry was/is a tedious job, the town Grandmother would have maids to do the washing, mangle for heavy things, starching of collars, etc., then the ironing....country Grandma would have no such luxuries, it would be a boil up in the copper heated by a fire underneath, then picked out with a wash tongs into cold water through a mangle/wringer, starched whatever, and hung on to long clothes lines strung out between poles, then came the long tedious task of ironing.....and oh those heavy irons, I do admired the strength of our forebears...all that iron kitchen ware......it was all time consuming compared to today, buy and throw away cheap clothing, in those days things lasted, alas today they don't!!!
I remember one of my Grandmothers, the other I don't......how lucky are the young today, many have therir Grand mothers living for much longer now, but alas family values have disappeared along with the manners and such, so many a dear old Grandmother is left in isolation, when she could be imparting so much knowledge and wisdom of the old colonial days......