Westbank Reminiscence Group (Chris Milne, Robert Kilgour, Jane Irvine, Agnes Kinnaird, Beatrice Bisset)

Fowk nooadays hae it affa easy. Electricity's teen aa the wark ooto wash days. Nooadays, fowk pit the washin in the machine, switch it on, an oot it comes ready fur the iron. Bit fin we war young, it wisna easy ava, as ye'll see!

Ye'd a set day fur the wash-hoose. Aabody got a shottie o the wash hoose on a rota. On wash days, we rose at 6am. We cairriet the orra washin in baskets doon tae the wash hoose oot in the gairden aside the coal sheddies an the ootside lavvies, gaed intae the wash hoose an lichtit three caunles in the windae. Syne we cairriet a pail o coal frae the coal sheddie, and biggit a fire aneth the big washin byler.

There were twa sinks in the wash-hoose, great muckle sinks, nae the wee things ye see in hooses nooadays. We fulled aboot 8 pails o watter an teemed the watter inno the byler. Syne, we lichtit the fire.It wid hae teen three oors fur the watter tae byle in the byler, ay, aboot 9am afore it come up tae the byle. Aa the coloured claes war sittin in pails an buckets on the wash hoose fleer, waitin tae be steepit in hett soapy watter. Ye didna pit fite sheets an pilla cases in wi coloured claes, na, na!

Fin the fite sheets war inno the bylin watter, ye plumpit them roon an roon an powkit them wi a spurtle or a lang stick. Syne ye liftit them ooto the watter fin the dirt wis caad ooto them, ower tae the sink, tae scrub an scoor them wi a hard scrubbin brush, up an doon, up an doon against the wash boord. The wash boord wis ridged, like corrugated iron. In the winter, oor mithers' hauns war sair wi the washin, aa hackit an raw an chappit. They rubbit their hauns wi intment tae try tae ease the pain o the open hacks. Some, wore clootie bandages roon their fingers.

Efter the claes war scrubbed in the sink, ye pit them through the mangle. The mangle wis cranked bi haun. The weet washin gaed through the twa turnin wringers, an the wringers squeezed aa the watter oot intae the sink or doon the drain in the wash hoose fleer. The wash hoose fleer wis bare steen, aafa cauld, ye ken.

It took twa tae wirk the wringer. Een caad the haunle, the ither fed the claes through. Fin the claes hid bin wrung, ye cairriet them upstairs . Oh, it wis a hale day's wark, washin day. Ye made yer denner the nicht afore, a suppie broth mebbe, or plain breid an cheese. If ye'd a big faimly it cud takk frae 6am till 4 pm tae feenish the washin! An ye cudna leave the wash hoose even then, till ye'd slooshed it oot an left it clean an tidy fur the next faimly comin in the morn.

Ye warna feenished then, either. No, in the tenements in Aiberdeen, ye shared a greenie. Aabody hid their ane day fur the greenie tae hing the washin oot, an if it rained on yer day fur the greenie, weel ye jist hid tae dry aathing in the hoose. Ye'd tae pit up the claes horse, a muckle widden frame, roon the fire. Bit nae sae close that a spirk frae the fire widna lowp oot an burn the claes! It cud takk a hale day tae dry the washin in the hoose, ay, an langer sometimes, because aabody hid big faimlies an lots o washin.

If there wis a bairn in the faimly, an there nearly ay wis, ye'd double the washin. Nae disposable nappies then, na, it wis clootie hippens! If the fireside an the backs o cheers war chokit wi washin, aa hingin dreepin an rikkin in the room, ye'd climm up tae the laft an hing yer claes ower towes hung frae the rafters up aneth the reef. Oh neen o's likit the laft! No, it wis affa dark an stewy an full o spiders!

Eence the claes war dry, ye'd takk them in frae the greenie, or doon frae the laft, or aff the claes horse, an ye'd dee the ironin. We used flat irons...nae electric. We pit them inno the fire till they war reed, then liftit them oot cannie, wi a thick cloot roon the haunle sae's we widna burn wir hauns.

Efter yon, it wis teatime. In the winter, we aa beddit early, nae lang efter wir tea, aboot 6pm. There wis nae electric, an it saved on caunles or gas if ye hid it, or the Tilley paraffin lamp. Ae nicht a wikk wis set aside fur bath nicht. Mither took oot a tin bath, an fulled it wi watter ooto kettles teen aff the fire. Syne een efter the ither, ye steppit inno the tin bath in front o the fire tae be washed. Ay, we shared the same watter. Cleanest eens gaed in first!

Efter wir bathie, wir mithers took a been caimb an caimbed wir heids fur beasties. Aabody got that deen tae them. Aa the lassies wore lang hair, ye see, an there wis a lot o beasties aboot, heid lice ye ken. The been caimbs war affa sair. It made yer heid dirl, it wis sair, gettin the tugs caimbed oot, an the caimb's teeth war sma. If ye'd flechs, yer mither wid shakk aa yer claes ower the tub, an the flechs wid drap intae the watter. Ye'd see them there, and ye'd catch them, an crack them atween yer fingers tae kill them.
Oh ay, watter hid lots o eeses in oor day!