Johnston, William

Fin A wis up at mi aul skweel e ither wik here an showin' some o' the bairnies picters o' Pitmedden in days gone by they wur fair fou o' questions. Ae question wis, "Fit wis it like fin A wis their age?"

Noo A canna myn fit mi reply wis, bit efterwirds it certainly made mi stairt thinkin, an ae parteecular memory cam tae e forefront o' m myn - an its es.

Fin A wis a bairn, aye A ken aat's a gweed fyow 'eer syne noo, nae maitter, it wid hiv been in e 1940's, an A can myn fine aboot playin in e aul' wash hoose on washin day, A can myn foo couthie an warm it wis, an foo safe A aye felt fin A wis in ere. E wash hoose wis in e backyaird jist aside e gairden, it hid been biggit in a gey queer wye, e gable wa wis widden, e back wa wis made o corrugated iron, an e front wa, e een aat hid e door in't, wis stane an lime!

Hooiver, fin A close mi een e sichts, e soonds, an, aye, even e smells o washin days aa thase 'eers ago cam wendin back thro time, back tae myn.

A can myn sittin on a teem, widden egg box aside e biler fire readin mi Dandy an playin wi mi Dinky cars as mi Mither wirkit hard at e washin. The muckle biler hid been fullt e nicht afore, aat hid been e Sunday nicht cos washin day wis aye on a Monday. A gweed supply o paper, sticks an shunners wis taen in for lichtin e fire on Monday mornin an keepin' it gaun aa day. Gey an afen e widden boxes aat e oranges an e aipples cam tae wir shop in wis broken up an eesed as kindlin. A metal doorie hid tae be opened wi an aul poker wi a hyeuk at ae eyn afore e fire cwid be stokit, aye a richt cosy ingle-neuk it wis.

E het waater wis laved oot o e biler wi a big tin ladle aat hid a widden hunnle inta e widden washin tub. Here mi Mither wid stairt washin affen eesin a washin boord, michty A myn foo reed n sair her fingers wid look efter rubbin e fool claes on it. Fairy washin soap wis rubbit ontil fool collars an cuffs afore they waur rubbit on e boord. Efter e claes hid been washed in e widden tub they were meeved ower inta a zinc bath far they waur rinsed. (Baith e widden tub an e zinc bath steed on widden steels.) Efter aat they waur wrung oot an then pit thro e mungle afore they wur pit oot tae dry on e washin lines. A myn fine caain e hunnle o e big, green mungle as Mither fed e sheets n pillow-cases atween its widden rollers.

Aside e door wis a rotary pump, it wis caaed bi a widden hunnle, ivery drap o waater eesed on washin day hid tae be pumpit bi haun,bonnie clear, caul waater A myn. Efter aa e het waater wis taen oot o e biler aat wis nott aa e tools wis byilt, e haun tools an e bath tools, aa byilt, than they wur taen oot wi a lang widden pole an pit intae e zinc bath. Mither wid gie them a bit wring bi haun than she wid pit them thro e mungle asweel.

A twa-three 'eers passed by, an then, low an behold, mechanisation cam tae e aul wash hoose - a washin' machine. Na, na, nae an electric een bit een aat ye caad bi haun. It wis, a squaar metal box an it steed on tower legs. It hid a hinged lid, on e inside o e lid wis a widden paddle an es wis connected through e lid tae a hunnle on e ootside o't. E waater still hid tae be byilt in e biler then laved intae e machine alang wi e richt amoont o Rinso an o coorse e richt amoont o clyes tae be washed, if ower mony clyes wis put in it wis a gey sair tyauve caain e hunnle! Back an fore, back an fore, roon aboot, than back an fore again, - A canna myn foo lang it hid tae be caad for bit A can fairly myn seein e sweat on mi Mither's broo as she wirkit at it. Aye an A ken it wis gey hard wirk becos A eesed tae caa aat hunnle m'sel. Efter e clyes or fit ivver aat wis bein' washed hid been caad for the required linth o time, e lid wis opened an e clean clyes, etc. wid be pit thro e wringer, it wis fixed tae e back o e washin machine, oh aye, all mod cons noo ye ken! At e boddom o e machine wis a tap an fin it wis time tae teem oot e fool waater e machine wis wheeled ower tae far e drain wis an e tap wis then opened. A said it wis wheeled ower bit efter a wee whilie its wheelies got aa roosted up, es mint aat it wis dragged ower e stane fleer, whit a minneer aat made A can tell ye!

Weel, e 'eers hiv rolled past noo, it's amazin e chynges aat hiv taen place ower e last fifty or so 'eers, e aul wash hoose his gone noo, nae biler, nae washin' tubs, aye, an sadly, nae Mither. A winner fit she wid think o aa es automatic machines aat e modern housewife his e day, throw in e clyes, press a button, an awa ye go?

Ye ken, somehow A dinna think aat she wid hiv been very conveenced aat e clyes wid bi richt clean, mair than likely she wid hae tae gie them a guid rub on e aul wash boord! Ah weel, as A say, e 'eers hiv rolled past, machines hiv taen ower a lot o e wirk aat wis daen bi fowk, bit for aa that it wid appear aat fowk are nae mair happy. Hooiver, fin A close mi een an lat mi myn wander a bittie A affen fin m'sel back in aat aul wash hoose, A see mi Mither at e wash tub, A hear e waater hotterin an bubblin awa in e biler, an A can smell aat het, sweet smell, a mixter o waater, steam, soap an weet clyes!