People were happy when I was 7 years old

People were happy then, even though most families had far fewer material things. And my mother worked very hard for her family of 7 children of hers.

Between knitting pullovers and jumpers for the boys and cardigans for the girls, I marvel where she found time to sew and knit as well.

Antique Singer treadle sewing machine
He had an old Singer sewing machine that stood on a wrought iron stand with a foot pedal. With this sewing machine she made simple summer dresses for my sisters and me.

I have often wondered where he disappeared. I would love to have it now. But my mother wasn’t one to cling to things once they reached their expiration date, so to speak.

So you’d trade in the old one for a newer model and the same thing probably happened with that lovely old fashioned sewing machine.

hand washing machine
I remember our hand washer well, none of the automatic ones back then. It had a drainer made up of 2 heavy rolls with a handle. When all the Persil was rinsed by hand under the tap, my mom ran them through this wringer to squeeze out any excess water.

Since tissue paper did not exist at the time, cloth handkerchiefs were the norm. However, a large iron basin was used for only one purpose: to boil the handkerchiefs and cloth diapers, although not together.

And everything was ironed. As the girls got older, we had to help with this and other chores around the house. Having said how hard my mother worked, she also took some time for herself. She was quite emancipated actually.

Although my father had his photography club every Tuesday night, his hobby took up much of his spare time.

So, most Saturdays mom would go shopping in town, meet some of her single friends, they all had tea and then went to the movies. Dad babysat us kids during the day.

Maureen came to clean up
On Wednesday afternoons, a cleaning lady named Maureen would come to clean our house and watch the kids while Mom went back to town.

Maureen would always arrive like Mary Poppins with a big black bag from which she would take a brown paper bag full of broken cookies. A great treat for us, she allowed us to eat as many as we wanted. She was so much fun and we loved her.

Swimming lessons in the baths
My older sister and I were sent to night swimming classes in the winter. Known as “Los Baños”, the heated indoor pool was a bus ride into town.

Another thing that I can barely imagine now is that we two girls between the ages of 10 and 12 take the bus to the city for afternoon lessons. I can still smell the chlorine.

I think the lessons were 30 minutes long and it was pretty dark before and after our class. Many times we decide to spend the bus fare on caramel candies and walk home. We could hardly wait for our treat after the swim.

Our walk home was about 30 minutes and we never had a problem because it was faster than waiting for the bus, which also stopped at each bus stop.

We were not aware of any danger, and no one ever approached us. Was it then a safer world? I shudder to think of it now.

I don’t remember many birthday parties, but we certainly didn’t feel deprived. Treats were occasional and as good as any party.

Bewley’s Cherry Almond Scones
Before buying a phone, my sister and I, the same one, were inseparable, many times we had to deliver messages from my mother to my father in his office in the city.

My memories are of a grand lobby, with a tall curved reception desk and 2 lovely ladies in charge. Sometimes we were treated to delicious sweets while we waited for Dad to show up.

When we were much older, we often wondered what was in those important messages. It must have been good news because then he would take us to Bewley’s Cafe Oriental next door.

Sitting in this charming old fashioned diner, Dad ordered the most delicious Cherry Almond Scones, baked only at Bewleys, hence they became known as ‘Bewley’s Buns’.

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