1950 Memories of Suburban Adventures

The End Justifies The Means

Earlier photo of me looking very next to Godliness!

Earlier photo of me looking very next to Godliness!

Cleanliness is supposed to be next to Godliness. So except for my bedroom, I was in pretty high standing. And hopefully my Cinderella duties whitewashed any occasional (frequent) slip-ups here and there.

Mom worked full-time and hurried to prepare supper when she got home. Although our bedrooms were finished upstairs, our living room and kitchen were still in the basement.

After school, my job was to load and unload the portable dishwasher. Although I sporadically washed the items that couldn’t go in the dishwasher, I usually just consolidated them in the most economical way possible. I voluntarily did some ironing, laundry, and periodic dusting.

Now here’s the cleaning effort that elevated me above my transgressions. Every few weeks, I surprised Mom by vacuuming, mopping, and waxing the brown linoleum floor in our living room, dining room, kitchen, and hallway. We’re talking lots of square footage.

www.healthyrooshappysoul.com I'm sure I looked exactly like this!

I’m sure I looked exactly like this!

I pretended I was Cinderella, waxing each tile on my hands and knees. Two throw pillows cushioned my knobby knee bones. Once the wax dried, I resumed my Cinderella position and buffed each square with a rag.

The floor sparkled, but was slippery to walk on. I warned Great-Aunt Mary so she could hug the walls and furniture as she tentatively made her way to the sofa. Daddy-O needed a warning too.

A couple of times, David and I continued buffing with two giant stuffed seals handed down from Aunt Nellie. We resurrected them from the land of old stuffed animals. We’d get a running start and slide across the slippery floor on their backs.

One day, Susan lay curled in a blanket on the floor. I grabbed the corners and pulled her around the floor a few times. She thought it was fun and wanted more. David and I took turns pulling her around before settling down to watch some television.

“Do it again,” begged Susan.

“No. We already did it a hundred times,” I answered.

“Please, just one more time. I promise I won’t ask again.”

“That’s what you said last time.”


David and I each took two corners and dragged her across the floor, over a hassock, across a sofa, back over the hassock, played crack the whip, and deposited her up onto another sofa. That ought to put an end to her ride whining.

She sat dizzily, blinked her eyes, and said, “Do it again.”

Once, after vacuuming, David and I had a squirt gun fight before I mopped. Afterward, he wiped wet spots off the furniture while I mopped. A squirt gun fight indoors was off-limits, even in our crazy house … unless Dad started it.

“Thank you for cleaning the floors,” said Mom when she got home. “You don’t know how much I appreciate it.”

“David helped me with the mopping this time,” I said.

Mom hugged us. David and I exchanged smiles.

Lesson learned: A good deed is good regardless of how the floor got mopped or polished.

Related Post: Chapter Three: The Pranksters

Now it’s your turn: What were your childhood chores?

© Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures, 2012 forward. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. Choosing says:

    I was rather spoiled in that way (and probably other ways too) – I did not have to help much. Yes, helping to set the table, emptying the dishwasher, that sort of stuff, but no big cleaning. Once my mother broke her ankle and could not descend the steps to the basement, where the washing machine stood, so I did the washing (I was a teenager and, surprise, I found it rather entertaining…). When we moved house shortly after that, I helped my mum with cleaning after the movers left. She told me later how surprised she was at my scrubbing abilities… “How come you know how to clean?” She asked me. I just shrugged and said “From watching you doing it, I guess.” 😉

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Choosing, the dishes were the only requirement. Everything else was done voluntarily.
      As a kid, I would agree that observation was a great way to learn how to do chores. As an adult, I have a different perspective.

  2. suzjones says:

    Work isn’t work if you make it fun. 🙂

  3. Glynis Jolly says:

    You did more for your mom than I did for mine. I did load and unload the portable dishwasher, cleaner my bedroom and the bathroom once a week, but that was about it except for the cleaning the windows once a month.

    From all that you write here, you and your 2 sibling seemed to have gotten along very well. I can’t say the same thing about my brother and me.

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Oh, Glynis, of course we’ve had our ups and downs. That just comes with the territory of being sibs.
      And it sounds like you had plenty of chores, too.

  4. Ralph says:

    A group of men were sitting at a bar. On suddenly gets up, puts on his hat and heads for the door saying,” I’ve got to get home. I’ve got some chores to do”. The rest of the men looked at each other with a puzzled look and said to the man, “What chores ?”. The man threw his hat back on the bar, sat back down, smiled and said, “A beer with a double whiskey chaser guys !!”

    Try it. It works every time ;D

    Have a lovely week Mary. Ralph xox ❤

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Ralph, my grandmother gave me whiskey and honey for my cough once. Yuk! I bet you would have been the kid faking a cough to get that medicine!

      • Ralph says:

        I know that my mum used to rub brandy on my gums when the new teeth were breaking through. I was about 7 then. Maybe that’s where I got the taste for it. 😉

  5. mikesteeden says:

    Great post – also fabulous style of writing, uniquely your own. This old fool loves it.

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Thanks, Mike. I’ve been referred to as unique before, but not always in a positive way. I’m so flattered and pleased that you appreciate my offerings.

  6. e m bahnsen says:

    Talk about Cinderella! That was my burden – cleaning. You would think that with two sisters, my mother and I would have help inside the house (my brother was exempt because he walked on water…wink, wink). No! My two sisters didn’t do anything…not. a. thing. It was left to me to clean the house. When I left, my baby sister had to take over.

    Today, my house sparkles. My two sisters live like….well, it’s not nice to talk bad about other people.

    Great article as always. Keep them coming!!!! Ellen

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Thanks, Ellen. You really were Cinderella! I hope you have Cinderella’s ending, too. My two sisters were 9 and 15 1/2 years younger, and David worked in the barn.

  7. I seem to remember being a very feckless and lazy child. Any threat of chores would send me skulking to a dark place in the woods until the cloud had passed. Come to think of it, not much has changed. Sorry!

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