Thursday, February 3, 2011

Real Men

I was born in 1955, not that long ago. This was a time when most women did not work outside the home. Men were the breadwinners. Obviously their work took them outside the home. "Women's work" was inside the home. Women's work comprised all the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, the bearing and raising of children, and doing the laundry.

In those days laundry was often done by using a ringer washer. This contraption had two tubs. One tub was filled with soapy water for the dirty clothes to be washed in. The other tub was filled with clear rinsing water for the clothes to be rinsed in. In between the two tubs was a ringer, or two rollers situated parallel to each other in a horizontal position that was hand cranked. A wash board was placed in the soapy water. Dirty clothes were scrubbed clean BY HAND on it. The luxury item was the ringer. It made it so the clothes did not have to be wrung out by hand. After scrubbing the clothes they were rolled through the ringer which wrung the soapy water out before the clothes were rinsed. Once the clothes were rinsed they were put through the wringer again then hung out to dry using a solar clothes dryer...a clothes line.

Doing the laundry this way was labor intensive and would take most of a day to do depending on how much dirty laundry there was. I can remember my mother washing our clothes this way many times. Diapers were the worst. There was no such thing as disposable diapers then. Mother had six children. She washed alot of laundry. Her hands were always red from exposure to detergents and hot water.

I never saw my father do laundry, clean the house, or wash dishes. He would cook once in a blue moon. He and mother had an understanding, a division of labor. He earned the money and supported his family. She worked in the home taking care of us, which was a full time job, in addition to cooking, cleaning... and washing mountains of laundry.

My dad was a real man. He felt it was his responsibility to provide for his family since he chose to get married and have children. I never heard him whine about having to support a wife and six children. It wasn't easy with so many mouths to feed. He always had a job, sometimes he had as many as three jobs. Real men take care of their own. But the reality is they would rather earn a paycheck than do the cleaning, nurse babies, change poopy diapers... or do the laundry. Earning a paycheck is so much easier.