Thursday, August 21, 2008

A promise

I finished too early yesterday. The washing story had just begun and there was so much more labor. It was a whole week of hard work and as soon as we children were old enough to help, we were enlisted. I won't bore you with the details but there was the rinse period (three rinse waters) the hanging on the field between our house and the beach. Then one whole day of 'laying the wash.' Two women had to grab a folded sheet and pull it in opposite directions. Then the mangling, done downtown at a mangle for hire. Then my mother's favorite moment. Time to put everything into a huge chest in the attic. She would almost fondle the sheets and pillow cases as she put them in the chest that was decorated with flowers and initials and the year1727.

Now we move forward to 1940.

I promised you some more name dropping. I think Dr hansson suspected that I was very poor. Even though I did not yet have my diploma, he gave me several patients. One regular one that I treated once a week was a very wealthy woman who lived on
Park Ave. She was suffering from a horrible case of imprisoning arthritis. She was sitting in a wheelchair. She could not straigten her legs and was doomed to spend the rest of her life in that chair. Her problem when I saw her was stiffening of wrist and fingers. Dr. Hansson had prescribed hot wax baths for her hands. The servants had turned on the wax, I had to check the temperature before immersing her hands, one at a time. They were then wrapped in woolen cloth. When the comforting heat was exhausted, she recieved a mild massage. Dr Hansson once told me that if she had been fortunate enough to have been born an Italian immigrant she might have been a washer woman whose hands might have cured themselves from the hot water and the excercise. She had two teenage daughters who were always going dancing somewhere. I saw them in the most gorgeous gowns and I felt like Cinderella. I was paid $10.oo each time I went there. And I knew I could eat breakfast the next morning.

One day Dr.Hansson asked me if I would like to go to Waldorf Astoria to give a back massage. I said yes of course. Turned out to be Fay Wray, King Kong's playmate. I never saw her face for I was told to walk in. She was lying prone on her bed. I went into the bathroom to wash my hands. Then pulled the sheet down and began massaging her back. I never heard a groan or an oh, that feels good. I worked for half an hour. Her head in the pillow said 'your money is on the night stand,' She had no idea if I were a human or King Kong working on her back. But I felt very lucky for the money she paid me was more than the usual.

This is getting too long so I have to continue later. I have to look up the name of the Socialist who ran for President at least five times. He had painful knees. Can't remember his name.


Katherine Bennett said...

Was the candidate Norman Thomas?

boardgurl said...

What is "mangling"?

hello haha narf said...

i can't keep quiet during a massage! well, at least she paid you well.

Haphazardkat said...

It just proves (again) that no matter the famous title a person holds, they are the same as everyone else.
Speaking of messages...*twists and points to my shoulder blade* I have this ache...right here...could you? :)

Vancouver, WA