Plate 7


Amelia Miller
(Donald's mother)

Top left: Amelia Loretta Miller. (February 16, 1884-June 14, 1958); undated photo.

Top right: Amelia Miller. (Same photo used in "souvenir from your teacher" card in 1908 -- see Plate 30). She taught all eight grades in a one-room "country school" and later taught, with sister Nellie, at Dalton, Minnesota, until she married (1911).

Bottom left: Amelia Miller. Graduation from Fergus Falls High School, 1904.

Bottom right: Amelia Miller. (no date)

Excerpt from Donald B. Johnson manuscript:

"Ma....washed [clothes] in the basement, using a scrub board and a wringer and two tubs, with an extra round tub for 'bluing' white things. She had a wood stove and a copper boiler and fired up a couple of hours before washing to get the water up near boiling in the copper boiler.

"The soap was Electric Spark bar soap and she would pare it into the boiler with a knife. The boiling water was to loosen up dirt and kill lice or germs, if there should be any. Those who didn't have soft water like she had, put lye in the water and skimmed off the scum. [6.37-4]

"Monday morning was wash day and only peculiar people washed any other time, except for dirty diapers, which were soaked out first in a five-gallon wooden candy pail and could be washed separately on other days of the week.

"Clothes were hung outside on lines the year around, except on stormy days when they were hung on wooden racks in the basement. If they didn't dry outside, the rack was a great place to finish them, if it was set right over the furnace register." [6.37-5]

"Ma got an old washing machine somewhere; it was propelled by pushing a wooden handle back and forth, but it didn't suit her at all and she went back to the scrub board entirely. [6.38-1]

"Our neighborhood street of six houses had fairly industrious housewives and most of them got their clothes on the line early on Monday mornings. There got to be a little rivalry sometimes over who got their clothes on the line earliest and some were accused of washing the night before to get out earlier in the morning than the neighbors. (When Marj was a baby, Ma washed at 4 a.m. a few times so Pa could stay in bed with the kids.) There was also some gossip about who had the whitest wash, and women all over town were more or less judged by how white their wash was." [6.38-2]

"One day Mrs. Lindberg, who lived next door, had stopped in for a few minutes to see Ma. She looked out the window and said, 'Here comes Annie Boe up the street.' She and Ma each grabbed a cloth and started dusting like mad before she got to the door.

"While Annie was there, she was looking at some pictures on the piano and picked up a vase to 'admire' it. Then she took out her handkerchief and wiped the dust out of the vase. It probably was the only thing in the parlor Ma and Mrs. Lindberg had missed." [5.15-4]