Yep, I did it! I wrote another historic book. When I write the word historic to me sounds as though I just did something epic. No! I wrote a book about two people struggling in the west. I’m going to say that their story isn’t that much different from dozens of other people who lived back then on ranches and did what they did.
People haven’t changed much. The things around us change and that creates different circumstances. So I have to go back and discover what those people had or didn’t have. That is going to change attitudes. I read several parts of this particular book to my writer’s group and one women in the mix was almost angry with me because I had written such a thing. Whoa! Back up about 125 years, please! Yes, women today have more options. Don’t be angry with me because we’ve progressed. What we have today wasn’t available back then.
Women had arranged marriages. Women became mail order brides because they were desperate. Women married men they didn’t know. Women did things we’d never do today. And children did things that we wouldn’t dream of having them do today – after all, they are children. Would we teach a six-year-old boy how to use a gun? The odds are slim, very slim. Back then on a remote ranch, it was a necessary skill. It was as important as learning to saddle his own pony, or using a hatchet to cut kindling wood for the kitchen stove.
So maybe if I can make people see how we lived back then, they will realize how far we have come. And maybe they will realize that in spite of every advancement we’ve made, there are still areas where we need to improve. Yes, we get upset when the washer breaks down and we are forced to repair or replace, but back then, washing clothing was a big deal and if they were lucky enough to have a washer it was a far cry from the wonderful automatic ones we have today. What if you had to stand there and step on a treadle to keep it going. Today we put the clothes in and walk away. Not back then! A washer was a luxury item and you stood on the treadle and pushed down that would cause it to slosh a little. So step-step meant slosh-slosh. And since you didn’t want to put those soapy clothes into another bucket of water, you squeezed the soapy water out by putting them through the wringer. Think two rollers that turned when you turned the crank. Now you could rinse the clothing. Most women used a paddle to keep from hurting their fingers between the rollers as they fed the clothes through. They often used that paddle to slosh the clothes in the rinse water. And then you fed the the rinsed clothes through the wringer (those two rollers) to get the water out of them! Now you can hang these washed clothes on the line so they dry. Except what do you do if the wind was blowing dust? Or it was minus 4 degrees? Clothes freeze! And if they freeze, they will break! So you hung them inside over your wooden floors because you’ve have to be living on the city or or very wealthy to have floors that weren’t wood. And we know what happens to wet wooden floors!
Oh let’s add one more fun thing to this lovely chore of doing laundry, even if you were so lucky to have a washer. That little time of the month when we use all sorts of disposable products to keep everything fresh and nice. They used rolled pieces of rags, and old toweling or strips torn from diapers were prized. Then they washed them and had to hang them to dry. But in those days, such womanly things were unspoken and no male what so ever was supposed to know about such happenings, nor was he ever supposed to actually see your undergarments. Plus who wanted to see such stained and horrible looking things?
But deep down inside, we have not changed. We still love. We love our spouse and our children and we will do everything we can for them. The average young couple today wants all sorts of things for their first home together. That will include things like super-sized TV’s and they look at things such as washers and dryers as basic necessities or they take everything to the cleaners. But back then that washer was as prized as a super-sized TV.
Times have changed and I’m glad they have! But I’ll invite you as a contemporary reader to step back in time and read my historical book Loving Ellen. It’s sexy and gritty, but I keep it sweet enough to read with a child hanging over your shoulder.
With two young boys from her first marriage to raise, a newly deceased mail-order-husband, no food and no money, she is forced to accept an offer of shelter from the neighboring rancher who found her latest husband’s body. Ellen is no stranger to sacrifice as a means to achieve a better future for herself and her children, but there is something different about Nick.