The Ladies Page

Content Tools

Country Echoes

By MAE BABER

R.D.2, Brandon, Wisconsin

It is Monday morning in late October as I write this. My automatic washer doesn't want to cooperate with me this morning so it shall be Column Time, quite unplanned. The summer has been such an eventful one. Let me tell you about it.

Recently my husband and I attended the banquet held by the Wisconsin State Antique Steam Club, at Fond do Lac. There were around one hundred and eighty people present. The food was excellent and we had two or more steam whistles for threshing day atmosphere. Bernhard and Dorothea Klein Schmidt were busy people getting the plans laid and had things working well. Dorothea had picked up sawdust and bark from logs waiting to be sawed when Mr. Otto Lanzendorf had his threshing day about a month ago. I had no idea they would appear on a banquet table.

I wish I could show each one of you ladies the table decorations made out of these. Plastic bottles which had held detergent for dishwashing were the receptacles. The one my husband won as a table prize was a bottle laid on its side with an oblong hole cut in the upper side. This was filled with sawdust and a bit of bark was used on top. Two of the nice washable flowers were set in bottle caps and buried in the sawdust. Some bottles were straight side up, but cut off, with an artificial orchid blooming from their tops.

I forgot to tell you she collected oats too. It was on the stem and mixed with flowers. These bouquets were chosen first by the winners. Isn't it amazing what can be done with inexpensive things that we often throw away? It could be a winter project for some of your pre-school children. Let them make a soap container bouquet.

But now I want to go way back to April. It was then that our Homemaker group visited the candle factory at Oshkosh. Knowing how early Elmer gets out his paper you may be getting out your Christmas candles at about the same time. Here is how they are made. The wax is melted in large kettles and mixed with big beaters. It is transferred to a machine with flat trays, full of molds. These are filled and removed to cool. There are small molds and long, large molds. The large candles are cut into the lengths wanted by a circle saw much as a log is cut. Some waxes are harder than others and require more careful handling.

In our machine age it seems odd that all wicks were put into these candles by hand but they were. (Hot needles are run through the candle and then the wicks are inserted.) They were then hung by the wick to finish drying. This was, of course, after they had been removed from their molds. This took, as I recall it now, a sharp rap of the mold on another object. There were so many kinds of candles. I wonder how many of these you have seen? The birthday candles were attractive. They had them from 1 to 16 years and 1 to 20 years. Each year you burn down your candle to the next figure. They are nicely decorated. This is an appropriate gift for grandchildren at birth or one year. Then there were the wedding candles. Beautiful! I was planning a wedding for our daughter and filled my head with all kinds of wonderful ideas and when the time came in August, she was married at noon. No candles. There were the twisted Broach candles, the Paragon candles you can press onto containers, add water and flowers and have a beautiful centerpiece. These are slim and graceful. They told us drafts cause candles to drip. Maybe the hint will help you.

All candles are originally white. They are then dipped into a sealer and then into the color, I believe twice. The big rough candles are again dipped into hot wax and patted with fingers and a knife to make the rough surface. We were also told that when you start to burn your large candle, especially the square ones, pour off the pools of wax at first. Never burn for more than three or four hours at a time. Then fold the top back when they are still warm. This helps them to burn properly.

It interested all of us to hear that the day after New Years next Christmas' candles are started. We always watched with great interest the spraying on of glitter. The apothecary jars were so fragrant and attractive. Yes, that was a worthwhile trip.

After an exce1lent dinner, we visited the Oshkosh B'Gosh Overall factory. Up we go in the freight elevator, and we are quite a bunch of freight, I would say. The patterns here are most amusing. There are large rooms full of them and they are all sizes from little ones to the ones for the oversize man with a protruding mid-section. Maybe you have seen one like this at a steam reunion. They are hung up, the patterns I mean, on hooks and all labeled.

To see them cut out the overalls was something not soon to be forgotten. 120 thicknesses were laid out at once, back and forth, back and forth. This made the pairs come out right for right and reverse side of material. The pattern pieces were marked on with a sort of chalk and a jig saw went around and around each piece cutting sixty parts alike at one time. In one section knee patches were put on with heat. The sewing started with the bib. How those women sewed! When we learned that 500 workers put out 450 dozen pair a day we understood why.

We then went from reality and not very nice reality to culture. We visited the Payne Museum of Art. It was built to represent the Tudor Period. The art was lovely but the furnishings even lovelier. The carving in the staircase I want to see again sometime. It was built to represent an English Manor. Here I haven't gotten beyond April and this has grown long enough. Perhaps I will tell you another time of planning a wedding and you ladies who are struggling with your first one may get new hope. See you in March and April.