Sunday dinner was over and Brad Stuart was outside. He had rounded up enough kids for a 4-on-a-side baseball game. But I couldn’t play.
I had to do dishes. Mom had used every pot and pan in the kitchen to fry her chicken, bake her homemade yeast rolls, boil and mash potatoes, fix two bowls of vegetables and cook a chocolate cake. It was a great Sunday dinner (we called a fancy lunch “dinner”), but we now faced the huge task of cleaning up.
Automatic dishwashers were really a product of the late 50’s and early 60’s. But we did haves dishwashers back then. They were called kids. One of us washed and the other dried. If there were three kids in the family, the tallest one put the dishes away.
In those days we had powdered soap. We used Tide, the same stuff Mom washed clothes with, but it worked. A quarter-cup full in a sink of hot water knocked off the dirt and grime. Rinsing was the hard part. We were not allowed to run the hot water out of the tap over each dish. Rather, we either had a plastic tub filled with hot water or, if you were lucky, the kitchen had a double sink.
I remember that if the water wasn’t piping hot, it was the devil to get the dishes dry.
One of the tough jobs was washing glasses. You had to squeeze the dishrag up into the glass and clean it without the glass breaking and slicing your hands to pieces.
Excuses were rarely allowed to get out of dishwashing duties.
“Mom, my hand has a scab on it.”
“Dishwater will help.”
“I have homework to do.”
“You can start as soon as the dishes are done.”
“Brad needs a right fielder.”
“Forget it. Do the dishes.”
After much moaning and groaning, dishwashing and drying wasn’t really that difficult. If you hustled, you could knock it out in about 15 minutes and then it was off to the baseball diamond for a spirited game. Sunday night was always a pleasure with leftovers and very few dishes to do.
Today, you just stack the dishes in the dishwasher, drop one of those little Cascade pods in the slot and turn it on. No washing, no drying and no putting away.
Kids today have it made when it comes to dishwashing. In fact, the adults generally load the dishwashers, not trusting the young ones to get it right. But, you know, I wouldn’t trade a single minute of being a child of the 50s for today’s world of texting and cell phones.