Friday, April 5, 2002
Doing the dishes
Back in the dark ages, before the days of an automatic dish washer in every kitchen, doing the dishes used to be a family affair. When the meal was over, the dishes were scraped and stacked, the hot soapy water was drawn into the dish pan, and the cleanup began. One person washed the dishes. Another family member dried the dishes, and a third person put the dishes away.
This may sound like a long drawn out process, but it was really a time of togetherness. A time of bonding, of little chats and giggles. Words of wisdom as well as nonsense were exchanged in both directions. We could share our thoughts and not have our brothers make fun of us. Yes, it was considered "women's work," no man wanted dishpan hands, and no man could put things away to the satisfaction of the housewife. Today we think that is all pretty silly too.
I remember many a covered dish supper in our church in the town where I grew up. Somehow the tradition seemed to be that the young people got to do the dishes after the meal. Many people would clear the tables and bring the dishes into the kitchen. I usually got to wash the dishes, elbow deep in soapy water. Then there was a quick rinse, and on to the two or three driers. Sometimes the adults would put the dishes away, but this usually took several people too. What good fellowship we had at that time. We were doing real work, helping in an adult world, and enjoying every minute of it. I think they have an automatic dishwasher now too. What a loss.
Today, the dishes are stuffed into the dishwasher and every couple of days someone pushes the button and the dishes are done. And may I add that the dishwasher cleans those dishes right down to the paint, although it sometimes has trouble with really stuck on, non pre-rinsed stuff. Of course, it seems that the glass we want or the dish we need to use is always in the dishwasher, and we get annoyed if we have to take it out and actually wash it by hand. But just think about it, you can get every dish in the house dirty with just two people, and not even have to have company to help you.
Of course I have and use a dish washer and would not be without one. But, sometimes I think of the times when "we girls" used to stand around the sink, just taking a few minutes to do our chores, tell stories, sing songs and share "girl" things. My grandmother's hands smelled of Clorox, no germ could live on our dishes. I can clearly remember the smell of Jergen's Lotion on my mother's hands. And I can remember wishing that my brothers had to help with the dishes, too.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito