Smoking was unpopular and everyone was clean

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By Horace E. Hobbs

Hampton Union & Rockingham County Gazette, December 5, 1987

Smoking by Hampton teenagers or younger children was not a real problem in the early days of this century. Of course, it was discouraged, but the cost of cigarettes was such and money was so scarce the tobacco smoking was not engaged in widely. They were available by such names as Fatima, Lucky Strikes, Camels, Sweet Caporal, Hassan, Mecca, etc. As a further inducement, each make often had cards in the packages as a collector's item. Some had baseball players, others prize fighters. Sweet Caporals had these. Others had unusual animal pictures or scenes of other natural phenomena.

In the absence of money, many boys had the common practice of making their own cigarettes by rolling dry corn silk (the tassels of the corn) into what, at least, had the appearance of a cigarette. Others, in their desire, rolled pine needles in paper and tried to smoke them, but they were really so strong as to be a real "test of taste."

A verse of the day to discourage smoking was:

"Tobacco is a filthy weed, and from the devil doth proceed.
It makes you tall and lank and lean,
It knocks the brain from out your bean,
So never with the weed be seen"

Once, blowing smoke out the holes in the side of the barn leading to the pigeon roosts inside, mother saw the smoke coming out the holes, and that ended our smoking.

Cleaning Day

Monday was always wash day. After the weekend frolics, the soiled clothes were all put in the laundry tub (boiler). The tub was usually a tin or copper oval-shaped container, and, with clothes water and soap, it was placed on the back of a large wood or coal burning stove to boil. You could always tell that is was wash day by the smell within the house.

Mother would take the cover off once in a while to see how things were cooking. When the time was right, she had a three or four foot clothes stick, cleft at the end, with which she moved the clothes from the boiler to a galvanized tub. Then she got the soap (Fels Naptha) and washed the clothes by rubbing them on the corrugated metal washboard. It was back-breaking work.

Washing completed, the clothes were put in another tub to rinse in cool water. This tub had a hand wringer attached to it, and, as one turned a crank, the excess water was removed by rubber rollers. The clothes fell into a woven wooden clothes basket and were then taken outside to the clothesline to hang up to dry. In cold weather, this job was torture. Fingers got cold, and it didn't take long for dad's long-johns to freeze stiff. There poor dad hung, fully exposed and blowing in the wind full sail.

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