The life of a housewife in the 1950s

THE hardships of doing house work in the 1950s have been spelled out by someone who should know.

Beris Gaal said after seven years in a job at a bank that included mixing with people, staying at home and doing physical work was quite a challenge.

"It was the normal thing for a girl to give up work and keep the home going after she married," she said.

"This started to change around 1957 when some girls stayed in their job after marriage.

"I considered staying on at work but the bank was against having married women on their staff."

Cleaning the floors was one arduous chore, Mrs Gaal said.

"On my hands and knees with an old towel, I would wash the floor and then as I went wipe it dry with another old towel," she said.

"After this, while still on hands and knees I applied polish which then had to be buffed off to bring up a shine."

Washing was another chore that had to be done.

"Until I purchased a washing machine I washed everything by hand," Mrs Gaal said.

"My first washing machine was not automatic.

"I had to fill it with water for the wash cycle."

Mrs Gaal said after the clothes were washed she had to put each article through a wringer which was attached to the machine, then rinse each article by hand while the second load was washing.

Since there was no stainless steel cutlery the forks and spoons had to be cleaned regularly.

To do this Goddards Silver was mixed with a little water and rubbed on the item.

After leaving it to be dry the powder then had to be polished off.

For shopping Mrs Gaal said she dressed in one of her best outfits including stockings, high-heeled shoes, hat and gloves and rode her bike to the shops.

"There were no self-serves, supermarkets or shopping centres," she said.

"The grocer would be behind the counter with items on display, and I would ask him for one item at a time,'' she said.

Mrs Gaal said before she married she had done very little cooking, but electric fry pans had just come on the market and she was given two as a wedding present.

"As they came with cooking instructions I soon learnt to make a meal,' she said.

"On Saturdays I cooked enough food for two days so I didn't have to cook on a Sunday."

Mrs Gaal said the only time she and her husband ate out was when parents or friends invited them for a meal.

There were no restaurants then, only cafes which were only used by travellers for meals.

Mrs Gaal said she could not afford to buy readymade clothes, which were much more expensive then than now, so with her mother's help she made her own dresses.
 


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