July 17 Thursday 8.15 am [1941]
# RUMINATIONS ON MORALITY
# WASH-DAY BLUES

I am reading “The Keeper of the Bees” by Gene St. Porter and was struck by these words, I think they are very appropriate to these days:

“I’d like to know, he said dourly, what a lot of mothers in this would mean. If they’ve known enough about the awful power of sex attraction themselves to marry a man and bear a child, why, in God’s world, don’t they know what they are letting the young folks up against when they turn them loose in utter and untrammelled freedom on the mountains and thro’ the canyons and on the beaches and in the parks and the dance halls and streets? Can’t they see that however times and customs change, the desires of the heart and the urge of the body do not change? They only grow stronger with the freedom and licence and physical contact allowed in these astounding days.”

It has been a dry night but is very dull, I am wondering if I shall get the rest of my blankets washed. I washed yesterday and got them dry but did not finish all my weekly wash. I must get my bucket on the fire as soon as I can. Jean gone to school but I am still puffed up. It is a nuisance not having a copper and it would not be so bad if it was a kitchen range instead of a “Yorkist combination” of sitting room grate and oven, very nice if all the washing goes to the laundry. Father not up yet, he was on duty until 2 a.m. and is on again at 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. He finished hoeing allotment yesterday, potatoes not very good yet but the rain will help.

Gene Stratton-Porter (1863-1924) was an American author, feminist and naturalist whose works included novels and books on nature. ‘The Keeper of the Bees’ was her last novel, published posthumously after her death in a traffic accident, and later made into a film.

‘Copper’ refers to a ‘copper boiler’ which typically incorporated a metal cauldron (generally cast-iron) with a brick surround, over a fireplace, in a scullery. May missed this arrangement, which she had been used to at ‘Sunny Side’. (See ‘A Yellowbelly Childhood’, Frank Forster, Seacroft Press, 2007, p24.)

The ‘Yorkist combination’ was a fire with side oven and back boiler for heating domestic water. With no mains supply, the water first had to be hand-pumped into an upstairs tank. Water for clothes washing was heated in a separate tub, placed on the unit, which was cumbersome and heavy for May to manage. (See ‘A Yellowbelly Childhood’, Frank Forster, p26, for ‘kitchen range’ illustration.)

 

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