Monday, September 8, 2014

Amanuensis Monday - Chores and Earning Money

It has been some time since I have posted from my grandfather's story. This is part Six.  My grandfather wrote about his house chores and how he earned spending money.

It was my job each day to shake down the kitchen stove fire, remove the ashes, and refill the coal bucket with anthracite which I brought up from the large coal bin in the basement.  And I went through the same process with the large hot air furnace in the basement which heated the upper floors through ducts leading to registers in the floors of each room.  Each Saturday morning I hauled the ashes to the local dump, using my sled when there was snow and my small wagon in milder weather.  Another chore each Sunday night was to take our laundry to the home of our wash-woman who lived beyond the cemetery at the head of Nafus Street.  To a 10-year-old this seemed a treacherous journey and I am sure I broke speed records going past that burying ground.*  On Tuesday nights I retrieved the laundry, all clean and ironed.  I can still smell the wash-lady's kitchen-hot, steamy, soapy and that odor of freshly hand-ironed things.

I was always encouraged to work to earn money for things I wanted.  This included selling and delivering the Saturday Evening Post and the Ladies Home Journal.  Among my favorite customers were the two sisters who operated the German Kitchen on Broad Street.  They always treated me to a dish of ice cream.  One of the sisters, Anna Dommermuth, became the wife of my brother Roy.

One year I had an out-of-town paper route, delivering only the New York and Philadelphia papers.  These came in on an early Lehigh Vally RR train and I delivered them by 8 a.m. via bicycle to the homes of the well-to-do who lived along the riverfront in West Pittston.  I bought the bicycle with money earned selling "Larkin" soaps, etc.

One summer, when I was 13 or 14 I worked on a truck farm, weeding, cultivating, picking strawberries, and preparing, bunching vegetables for delivery to local markets--10 hours a day, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., six days a week for 15 cents per hour!

But not all was work; school, skating, sledding in the winter, baseball with grownups in the evening, hiking and bicycle trips.  And lazy hours after dark, when the family sat on the front porch, eagerly awaiting my mother's announcement that it was now time to bring out a pitcher of lemonade or, that as soon as Nick Sardoni came along in his wagon, we would have ice cream.  I have never since then tasted as good ice cream.

*My great-grandparents are now buried in this cemetery along with two sons (including Roy, mentioned above) and a daughter-in-law.  You can read a bit about that here.

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