Saturday, October 31, 2009

All Tricks and No Treats For Lillian

Sun.October 31, 1929*: "We all went to church this forenoon. Then we staid at Aunt Annie’s to dinner. It was nice this forenoon but cloudy this afternoon. It was colder on Saturday. I had thought something of going to town that night but as usual twas too late, cold & etz. & etz. Wish I could go to something without trying to drag all the family along.*

On Friday,Tom Glanman came to finish the painting in Einer’s place in the morning. He painted the lip under the roof and then painted the windows on the east and south side of the house. He also painted the front door. His & Einer’s bill was 15 dollars. There was a box social* at Independence School on Friday night. I had wanted to go so awfully bad, but I hardly felt able to stand up and Ruby didn’t care to go. Then its always so terribly late by the time the chores are done. So had to eat my heart out at home again.

Thursday Mother blackened the parlor stove and set it up. Len went to town twice in the forenoon with oats to grind."

* This is one of the first times that Lillian does not mention that it is Halloween .
* Lillian would have been 29 in 1926. You will note that she never goes anywhere without another family member or relative. It was indeed the accepted social mores that a young woman should not be out and about unaccompanied, but how confining! It had to limit her social life and in both of the entries for Saturday and Friday above she really seems to be feeling those constraints. It is times like this that my heart goes out to Lillian.
* The box socials at the different schools were a part of Lillian's social events, as well as the whole community's. Everyone went from the youngest to the oldest in the family. Sometimes the school children put on programs before the baskets/boxes were auctioned off. In the first edition of Lillian’s Diaries: Whispers From Galena’s Past they happened quite frequently. Sometimes they were a happy occasion and you can feel her joy, other times they will break your heart. As she grew older in the soon-to-be second edition, the accounts of these events get shorter and shorter.


  1. What does it mean to "blacken the stove"?

  2. I thought I knew, but called my Mother who actually remembers the process to verify. Mom said that at least once a year the "housewife" took out a small can of what was called "stove blacking", put it on a cloth and polished the outside of the black stove and also the outside of the pipe that led to the chimney. They did not do the inside and Mom thinks they did it when the stove was cold. So then I checked out her answer (remember my rule you must find data in two or three separate sources before you can believe it).

    On two different questions where answered about blackening the stove.
    "Stove black is the same thing as stove polish, which is a waxy paste used to make stoves black and shiny. It is now used only for antiques for a couple of reasons. First, it's not water proof, so if water lands on the stove it will rust. Second, stove polish was used in the old days when stoves were cared for lavishly and gleamed from being polished on a weekly basis. We don't do that much any more." and

    "Before the days of reliable heat-proof paint people used stove black, or stove polish, which was waxy. Applied, left to dry and then polished, it produced a very nice finish with slightly silvery or metallic highlights on the castings. But after firing, stove black was not water or corrosion resistant, so the stove would rust at the slightest provocation. Maintaining a stove with stove black was just another routine job for overworked rural women. All this went out of fashion about 15 years ago when good, reliable, corrosion resistant heat-proof paints came along."

    Thanks alot for commenting, I am sure some other readers were wondering about this chore also! take Care

  3. I'm so glad I was born in these days of modern conveniences! We women have it so good today! Lillian would probably think we are lazy! Haha!

  4. I was struck that there was very little celebration on any of the holidays. "Nothing much extra" on Thanksgiving day. No real mention of a Christmas tree or anything like that. Perhaps some of this was because of the war. Maybe they were just so busy with chores. I often wondered what "Saturday work" was and how it was different from regular days. It seemed to me every day was busy.

  5. I think Saturday work entailed straighten up the house in case they had company on Sunday, whick seems to be the big visiting day for everyone after church.