It would be tackled on a Saturday
When all four daughters were at home to help.
Mama ran the job, rewarding speed and sunny dispositions
with sweet-smelling chores like pegging clothes out on the line,
or gathering in.
That wasn't me.
I usually sorted dirties in great heaps upon the kitchen floor,
never mastering the complex rules concerning weight of fabric,
color, odor, depth of dirt. Towels go in this stack, Mama said,
unless they're red or purple -- those make a separate load --
they won't be colorfast. Sheets, pillowcases here,
school clothing there, except for underwear.
Check crotches carefully. The stained ones get a special soak and scrub.
Now start that tub of whites – no, not those smelly shirts --
they'll wait till near the end. And barn pants, overalls, go last.
The sorting, soaping, dashing, wringing, bluing,
rinsing, wringing, rinsing, wringing again,
the hanging, drying, taking down and folding up consumed our day.
We finally saw the last foul load of overalls go in.
Oshkosh B'Gosh went churning in a gray-blue soup
garnished with straw. They crawled up through the wringer,
somewhat cleaner, though I wondered how.
Their buckles caught between the rollers,
made them gasp and stall and fly apart.
An easy fix, said Mama, to my great dismay.
The washer drained out slowly, clogged by a silty mix of soil
chaff, manure and broken buttons, stones and screws
We made pancakes for supper, too weary for the usual roast or stew.
That was some job we did today! chirped Mama.
Don't you feel good?
We rolled our eyes and sighed, Sure do.
Our farmhouse telephone looked like a creature
born of wood and wire.
Square-headed, it was fitted out with bulging silver eyes,
a long black beak connected to a flaring mouth,
a pair of mismatched ears –
cylindrical receiver dangling down the left side,
short metal crank protruding from the right.
It shrilled all day from its position on the kitchen wall,
a different ring for every family on the party line
and there were twelve of them.
We knew them all.
that brought four daughters running hopefully.
The calls were usually for Mama,
who fluffed her hair out with a nervous hand,
tucked in her blouse and smiled
as if her friends could spy right through the snout.
- Sara DeLuca
A longtime Heritage Center tradition continues with volunteers sharing bits of history in each of the buildings with area school children. This spring, approximately 960 children plus teachers, assistants and guests visited from New Richmond, Amery, Barron, Cornell, Hudson and Somerset. The tours begin in the Pavilion with an introduction to early New Richmond, farm life and the 1899 cyclone display. Camp 9 School is always a favorite, probably because it is most connected to their lives. Other popular buildings are the Immigrant Cabin, Ubet Store, History Shed, Bell Tierney Farm House and the Blacksmith Shop.
Volunteer involvement is key to the success of the tours. Prior to "tour season" a training was held for new and continuing guides which included a "walk about" in all of the buildings with a brief description in each building. This spring, twenty people graciously shared their time as a guide or shadowed another guide. New guides are always welcome.
Heritage Center tours are not just for children. CONSIDER A TOUR. Schedule a guided tour in one of our buildings or several buildings. Our guides can easily adapt a tour to accommodate your family or organization.
There are many areas and opportunities for volunteers at the New Richmond Heritage Center. Send an email to info@NRHeritageCenter.org with your area of interest.
Heritage Center Celebrates