Mama’s First Luxury

The first luxury Mama was able to extract from Papa was a kitchen-sink that had a pump from which we got the water.  The boys were as happy as Mama.  It meant we did not have to fetch water from the well, which was at a distance from the house. 

This was an especially uncomfortable chore in wintertime, when carrying the sloshing water pails often got our pants wet.

A year or so later, Papa had central heat put into the house and Mama got a gas range in the summer kitchen.  Since the summer kitchen was reserved for the roomers and boarders during “the season”, this had a higher priority. 

Mama was able to use the income to amass her “knipl.” Papa never got his hands on it.  “Dos iz far di kinder” (This is for the children).

The last major change in Mama’s “palace” was the inside toilet.  We never referred to it as the bathroom.  It was located upstairs in a hallway and necessitated our going around it to get to our bedroom.

No longer did we have to put on our boots during the winter nights to slosh through the snow to deposit our solid waste.  When it was only liquid waste, then we were fortunate enough, in the freezing cold, to have a milk-bottle at the side of our bed.

Mama’s pride in her domain came at a high price.  It was a source of constant hard labor.  The floors were washed regularly with the large mop that she wielded with her powerful arms.  There was linoleum throughout the house.  Carpets were just “far raykhe layt” (for rich people).

Bathing was done in a large tub in the kitchen and the water was heated on the wood stove.  It was tight and we had to tuck our knees up to our chin.

Replaceable irons that were slipped into a wood handle were used in the ironing.  These irons soon got cold and were replaced with hot irons that kept being rotated as Mama worked.

When the deep well was drilled next to the house and we had running water, Mama felt that she had the ultimate.  There was no more luxury that Papa could give her.  This was a long way from Tiktin (Tykocin) in Poland, from where she had come.