Thursday, January 25, 2007
Mama's Lace Curtains - A Sunny Memory
When I think back over my childhood, one of the images I see is of Mama doing her yearly washing of all the lace curtains in our house. I don't remember if she washed them in the washing machine or in the bathtub, but it's the drying ritual that left such as indelible memory in my mind's eye.
This tedious chore had to be done in pretty weather on a Saturday. First, Daddy would haul the frames out of the garage for stretching the wet lace on. All around the outside wooden frame were hundreds and hundreds of little spikes, sticking up in a row. I remember helping Mama to put her curtains on these torture racks. I'd pull the bottom ones, while she pulled the top ones. Each outside loop of the lace was pulled until it fit over one of the spikes. On and on we tugged and stretched, until the whole curtain was attached to the frame. Left leaning against the clothesline in the sun, it didn't take long for the beautiful white curtains to dry.
The sun did its magic, so the pattern of the lace was perfectly symmetrical, with no need for any ironing. And they smelled great, too! If you've never hung clothes out to dry in the sun, you have no idea just how wonderful clothes can smell!!
In this day of wash and wear fabrics, it's hard to imagine anyone going to this much effort for curtains. And Mama wasn't a stay at home housekeeper, either. She had a full time job as long as I can remember. We did have a maid, who cooked, cleaned, and stayed with me until they got home from work, but these precious lace curtains were always something she took care of herself.
Maybe that's one of the reasons I'm drawn to look at any delicate lace that we find at Estate Sales. Sometimes we luck up on a beautiful piece that is not high priced, and they always sell quickly and with a nice price. I must not be the only one who associates fine lace, doilies, and cutwork with precious memories of days gone by.