Now for something special. As some of you may have noticed, I mentioned 'the world's oldest Blogger' in one of my introductions. And today I have discovered that Olive Riley, aged 108, lives only a short distance away from me, here in Australia! The gentleman who helps her with her Blog has asked me to write a poem for her and here it is. It's based on her own description of Washing Day a hundred years ago. Here is her Blog address: http://worldsoldestblogger.blogspot.com/
Please write to her.
FOR OLIVE RILEY
The World's Oldest Blogger.
Sometimes, I hear the young complain of all they have to do.
But I am sure that their complaints should really be quite few.
Take Washing Day, for instance, all they do is press a knob,
And then machines go whirling round and quickly do the job.
They throw in powder, maybe bleach, and softener as well,
And dirty clothes are whirled about, then spun around, pell-mell.
And then, to follow up, I hear, they set the dryer spinning,
They've hardly raised a finger to the end from the beginning.
But things were very different in the days of long ago,
When Olive Riley's mother washed her clothes as white as snow.
And Olive well-remembers that, when it was Washing Day,
Daughters had to do their bit; there was no time for play.
First Olive looked for firewood, which was sometimes hard to find,
She had to hunt for broken twigs or sticks of any kind.
Sometimes she found a fruit-box that was thrown down on the floor.
She chopped it with a tomahawk, though it made her fingers sore.
After filling up the copper, her Mum would light the fire,
And the water would start heating, as the flames grew ever higher.
Then she threw in some soap chips, followed by Reckits Blue,
(That was a clever little bag that made things look like new.)
Next she got the Sunlight Soap to scrub at all the stains,
And, sometimes, if she scrubbed too hard, there were blisters for her pains.
The corrugated board was rough, her hands were roughened too,
Ruined by years of scrubbing, but what else was there to do?
Then, she threw in the dirty clothes, and gave them all a stir.
The steam rose up in clouds and very nearly smothered her.
She was splashed by boiling water, and the bubbles stung her eyes.
And a line of snowy washing was to be her only prize!
Yet, now, would come the starching, of the collar and the cuff,
And, however hard she starched them, it was never quite enough.
For Father must look perfect when in his Sunday Best,
He mustn't look inferior, measured against the rest.
At last, the clothes were clean and rinsed and the fire had lost its heat.
Mother was quite exhausted, after so long on her feet.
But the hardest job was yet to come, an energetic trick,
For she had to get the clothes out with a hefty copper-stick!
Imagine sheets all water-logged and weighing half a ton!
Her back was nearly broken by the time that job was done.
A soggy mass lay, wetly, in a tub, somewhere nearby.
The washing was as clean as clean, but not the least bit dry.
Now Olive had a job to do, though she was scarcely grown,
For Mother couldn't mangle all the washing on her own.
Between the wooden rollers Mother fed the dripping clothes,
While Olive turned the handle, standing on tippy-toes.
The mangle squeezed the water, it came quickly pouring out,
But the washing was still wet and heavy, that I do not doubt.
But Olive and her Mother had to drag it to the trees,
Where a line was stretched, so washing could be dried off in the breeze.
When all was safely pegged, they stood and eyed the white perfection.
But a flock of noisy magpies swooped and swirled in their direction!
They aimed for Mother's washing, causing splish and splash and stain!
'Oh well' said Olives mother, 'We must do it all again!'