I came across this letter from a pioneer woman to her daughter while visiting the Smithfield historical museum with my children. It’s an instructive letter on how to do laundry. I loved it so much that I took a photo of the transcription, typed it up, framed it, and hung it next to my washer and dryer.
There’s a lot to love about this letter: her plucky attitude, the delightful spelling, the way she uses water, the counting of blessin’s. I love that the daughter needed the letter, because I asked my own mom oh-so-many times what temperature the colors should go on and how much detergent to use and what should I use to get out grass stains.
I like to imagine what this woman would have thought if I’d told her that her letter would be framed on my wall in the year 2009.
It makes me think I should write more letters.
And be happy with my front loader.
“Build a fire in the backyard to het kettle of rain water. Set tube so smoke won’t blow in eyes if wind is pert.
Shave one hole cake lie sope in biling water.
Sort things. Make three piles, one pile white, one pile cullord, one pile britches and rags.
Stir flour in cold water to smooth, then thin down with biling water.
Rub dirty spots on bord, then bile. Rub cullords but don’t bile. Just rench and starch. Take white things out of kettle with broom handel, then rench, blew and starch.
Spread tee towels on grass. Hang old rags on fense.
Pour rench water on flower bed. Scrub porch with sopy water. Scrub privee, seat and floor with sopy water caught from porch scrub.
Turn tubs upside down.
Go put on clean dress. Smooth hair with side combs. Set and rest a spell and count blessins.”