Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Another memory I have is of the public well at the end of the street. There was no running water or electricity in town and those who did not have wells of their own carried water from the well. Wells in this area were dug by hand to a depth of 25-50 feet, the top was covered with heavy boards and water was drawn by bucket and rope or a hand pump. This one had a hand pump. I probably would not remember this well if some neighborhood boys had not thrown a snake and some frogs into it. I remember dad and some neighbor men cleaning them out. A rope was tied around one man's waist (I don't remember which man) and let down by the other two men.

Dad carried the water before and after work. We had a "wash stand" which was a table about four foot square. We set two buckets of water on it. One had a long handled dipper in it for drinking and dipping water into another container. Mom also used this table for preparing food. We always, except on A Avenue in New Castle, had a garden. What we didn't eat fresh, mom canned by cold packing. I don't know where this name came from because she put a wooden rack (strips of lath) on the bottom of a copper wash boiler (an oblong container about 16"-18" deep). She set filled canning jars on this rack. The rack was to keep the jars off the bottom and absorbing heat too fast and breaking. She filled it with water just below the lids. This would boil for the required time, then lifted out with wire tongs and the lids tightened while still hot. When the contents cooled it caused a vacuum and as long as the seal was not broken the contents would keep for months, sometimes two or three years, or more.


  1. The part that mentions "straps of lath", I had a hard time reading. I think that is what it says, but I googled it and only came up with "lathe" but I don't think that is what he is talking about. If anyone could give me some info on that I would appreciate it. I wondered if it was "strips of leather" and he stopped half way through the word, maybe?

  2. Sara, I found this article. Does that make sense in context?


  3. Alison~I just happened to ask my mom this morning and she said lath is strips of wood they would put in the bottom. She said that sometimes her mom used old rags. Just anything to keep the jars from bumping around when the water boiled so they wouldn't break. Now we use a rack that you lower down into the water canner. Either they hadn't been invented yet or they were too poor. I would say they had not been invented. I will see if I can find out.

  4. My grandparents used "strips of lathe" (small pieces of wood - usually old moulding scraps) in the bottom of their canners. In fact, my grandma still has one canner that she does this with.

    I love the stories! What a treasure you have in his words!