The Ladies Page

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.

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