Plague of the Prairie

Wouldn’t it be nice if Grandma was still around to ask questions of? This is a great story about the Saturday bath tradition that happened everywhere on the prairie. These one page letters just didn’t allow enough room to talk about the details that give the story depth.

Did the “plague” get washed at the same time as the kids? Was the hair really first? How long did the process take? Are we talking woolen long johns or cotton? I can hear Lucy telling the story, and I want to hear more. Thankfully we have these snippets of life on the North Dakota plains in the twenties.

Lucy writes:

Being a little girl was not easy if you lived in the country. One of the worst things ever was long underwear. It had legs to the ankles and long sleeves.

Now on Saturday evening everyone got their bath because, you know, clean for church on Sunday. First we’d get our hair washed, then mother would melt snow. Nice soft water, and Loly and I would sit in the wash tub Mom used on wash day. We’d wash our upper body then stand up and wash our feet. Then came the “plague.” That darn underwear.

Now on Saturday evening they fit nice and snug, but by about Tuesday they would be stretched out so when we put on our ugly brown (some town kids had white and didn’t have to wear underwear) stockings. There would be a big glob of underwear right at the ankle, no way could you get those ugly stockings on without a lump.

By spring sometimes we’d only have two buttons on that darn underwear and one corner would hang down, causing a lump that you sat upon. If you had worn them two years spring came and you could cut them off above the knee and elbow. What a day!!

Plague of the Prairie - Page 1

Plague of the Prairie – Page 1

Plague of the Prairie - Page 2

Plague of the Prairie – Page 2

One thought on “Plague of the Prairie

  1. We spent the summer in Norway with my grandparents the year I turned 10. There was no indoor plumbing for that visit. We learned about outhouses, and used the same bathing procedure in the washtub. To answer your question, the hair really was washed first.

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