A Virtual Tour of the Back to Backs – part 50
Adelaide Levy, would, once a week be central to the family’s washing day. Having lit the fire under copper in the brew’us, this is how her day progressed.
She would proceed to walk back and forth to the Lady Well to ultimately collect as many as fifteen buckets full of water to fill the copper.
Once the water was boiling Pricilla (mom) would bring out the washing, put it in the boiling water and she would scrape fragments off a bar of carbolic soap with a knife – no DAZ around 200 years ago!! Who can remember that smell of carbolic soap? Does it remind you of school?
Now, the washing needs agitating and to do that Adelaide would use a “Posser” or “Posher” depending upon which part of Birmingham you were from. This was yet another Birmingham word! Birmingham, is a metal bashing town and so what we used to agitate our washing was made of metal – not wood – that was a dolly. The posser was pounded up and down to move the clothes about and it created small jets of water that aided the washing process.
When she’d had enough of possing, Adelaide would call mom who’d check her work. If it was OK, then rinsing had to start. This means that Adelaide would have to get another fifteen buckets of water from the well and pour it into one of the “possing tubs” that stood outside in the courtyard. But first, the washing would be put through a mangle to squeeze the soapy water out. In the possing tub a long handled posser would be used to agitate the washing in the clean water to get the soap out. It would go through the mangle again then hung on the washing line in the courtyard.
If it was raining the washing was hung round inside the house in the hope that it would dry.
Now, here we are surrounded by houses with smoky chimneys and factories belching out soot and muck into the air.
If your washing was any cleaner by the time it had dried, then you’d be VERY lucky!