Nov 18, 2006

Dishwashing Lessons

My husband and I just finished washing and drying dishes together. This teamwork reminded me of when my siblings and I shared dishwashing and drying duties back in the 50's. That was a great lesson in learning to work together with contesting peers!

My younger sister and I were usually at odds over who would dry and who would wash. Mother would have to choose, and she quickly figured out that it was best to make assignments for an entire week. Even then we had arguments over whose turn it was to wash.

The person who washed the dishes had the worst job. He had to start first, scour out grimy pots and pans, and clean the cabinet top and sink at the end. The person who dried dishes would usually have the upper hand. She could come late (making the dishwasher angry because the rinse sink was now overflowing with dishes), or throw dirty spoons back into the wash water--with a "You forgot to clean this!"

In those days, Mother cooked daily meals from scratch using non-Teflon pans. The only thing that made the skillet easier to clean was the gravy which during cooking had released the stuck browned meat and flour. An electric clock hung above the sinks of wash water and rinse water. Looking at the clock's second hand, we held regular contests on who could hold their breath the longest.

The issue that led to the most fights was who got to sing. Naturally we did not like to sing together. We finally agreed that whoever started singing first could continue without interruption. Yes, dishwashing days are over in most families. A pity, because I can't think of a better way to practice getting along with your neighbors.

3 comments:

SleepyBob said...

Fond memories Dusty. I had 7 siblings. 7 children and 2 adults always ate at the small breakfast room table: Mom and 2 kids on the south side, 2 kids on the west side, 3 kids on the north side and Dad sat at the head. An 8th sibling sat at the bar, which made up the wall on the south side of the breakfast room nook. The 8th child, sitting at the bar, was the "gofer" during the meal. The "gofer" went for more milk or extra food, etc when someone at the table wanted
seconds.

Before dinner, one sibling setup the table (knives, forks, spoons, plates, glasses, pour the milk). After dinner another sibling cleared the table and set dirty dishes around the kitchen sink for washing. Anothr sibling was assigned to wash dishes; another to dry them and put them away.

These assignments rotated after a week.

.....and then there were the Saturday cleaning assignments, which we had to complete before we could go outside to play. In the fall, these assignments included raking the leaves.

I thank God for giving me such wonderful, loving, caring parents. Thank you to my parents for giving me the love and care they gave me, along with my 3 brothers and 4 sisters.

M. Alexander said...

"The person who dried dishes would usually have the upper hand. She could come late (making the dishwasher angry because the rinse sink was now overflowing with dishes), or throw dirty spoons back into the wash water--with a "You forgot to clean this!"

How well I remember this!!!!

Therese_Rose_Morning said...

"Yes, dishwashing days are over in most families"

Lol, well, they aren't over in my family! There are four kids in my family. . .well, were, since I have married and moved out, and my sister has entered a convent, but we four kids HATED washing dishes, and the only way to keep peace in the household was to assign dish washing duties. We hand-washed and dried too; I remember a cousin of mine complaining about having to load and unload the dishwasher, and I was shocked! She had it sooo easy!

My mother eventually expanded our assigned duties to other household chores that nobody liked, and would therefore not do, rotating these chores weekly (keeping track on the big blackboard in the kitchen where we also did our schoolwork). Cleaning the bathrooms was one chore, sweeping and vacuuming floors was another, then came drying dishes and washing dishes. Every kid liked drying dishes the best, and hoped that Mom would forget to update the rotation so he or she could have an extra week of drying. The washer would keep close track of rotations though, so this very rarely happened.;)