Click on the pictures to see enlarged versions of the images.

Monday, October 11, 2010

On a Windy Wash Day Morn

(Wash Day, 1945 by Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma”
Moses, 1860-1961, American painter)

Grandma Moses began her career as a painter when she was eighty years old. For the next twenty-one years, she had great success as a popular folk artist of traditional American themes like country fairs, maple-sugaring, quilting bees, and Thanksgiving turkey-hunts.

“I like to paint old-time things, historical landmarks of long ago, bridges, mills, and hostelries,” she once said. “Those old-time homes, there are a few left, and they are going fast. I do them all from memory, most of them are daydreams, as it were.”

The painting Wash Day was inspired by the following poem which she had memorized as a schoolgirl:

On Monday was our washing day,
and while the clothes were drying,
a wind came suddenly through the line
and set them all a-flying.
I saw the shirts and petticoats
go flying off like witches.
I lost (oh bitterly I wept),
I lost my Sunday breeches.
I saw them flying through the air,
alas too late to save them.
A hole was in their ample part,
as if an imp had worn them.

~ Author unknown

Grandma Moses’ painting, in turn, inspired the poem below:


Soaked and scrubbed in a round tin tub
with homemade soap
up and down the ribs of a wooden washboard
by hands rubbed red & raw
on a windy wash day morn.

Stiffened with starch, squeezed
and wrung to a twisted laundry rope
then hung on lines to flap
back and forth and snap dry
on a windy wash day morn.

Laid on the lawn like paper cutouts
clean shirts and sheets, towels and skirts
smelling of sun and clouds and wind
wait to be ironed and worn and dirtied
again for another wash day morn.

~ Brenda Seabrooke, born 1941, American poet and novelist

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