Child-rearing before was harder, better

Eighty-two-year-old Eulalee
Frederick raised five children: Charles, Barbara, Rose, Sybil and Violia with
her husband, Norman, but it was no easy task.

Relaxing at home today with modern
amenities and the children all grown, she reflects back on the days when life
was hard but less stressful.

Mrs. Frederick, born in 1928, was
the second of six children born to Ginny Wood by the flicker of lamp light in
1928. She grew up, in Bodden Town, watching her mother make ends meet with the
little they had. Despite such tough times they were thankful for the small
mercies that God provided.

“Raising children was not as
nerve-racking and expensive as it is today, despite the hardship those days,” Mrs.
Frederick said.

 “It was easy to raise children in those days because
things were much cheaper and we did not live above our means.

 “Cloth was only six pence a yard, flour a penny
ha’ penny and sugar sixpence a pound. Fish caught daily along with local produce
from the land was the main staple in the family’s diet,” she said.

Mrs. Frederick also remembers
purchasing chicken feed sacks to make underwear for her children.

“The cotton sacks the feed and
flour came in those days were decorated with colourful designs. Some mothers
even made beautiful cotton dresses for their children to wear around the home,”
she said.

“When I was growing up my mother
would leave the doors and windows open for the cool breeze to come in – leave
them open today and God knows what will blow in.

 “We did not even know what electricity was all
about, but it did not matter.  The
children were happy finding activities to occupy themselves, while I busied
myself in the kitchen preparing food and taking care of the home.”

According to Mrs. Frederick, most
children had a full set of chores and other responsibilities at home.

When her oldest son, Charles, was
born it, too, was by lamplight.

“I remember my family having to go
down to Demon Well, which was located behind the Bodden Town, Town Hall to
collect water. It was then heated in an iron pot on the wood fire in the caboose
for Dr. Hollaway to use in the delivery.”

Water was collected from the well
to wash diapers on the wooden washboard and to do the household cleaning, she
added.

“Today mothers talk about Enfamil,
packaged rice and oat cereal. All of my babies thrived, just fine, on cornmeal
porridge, lactogen and breast milk. Common colds and ailments were also treated
with various teas and home-made remedies.”

She said that she was a
stay-at-home mom, while her husband worked at a canning factory in George Town.

“In those days Cayman exported
tinned turtle soup to different countries,” she said.

When her second child, Barbara, was
born, Mrs. Frederick remembers it being so hot that  Nurse Jessie Ritch stayed up most of the night
fanning her with a cardboard fan.

“It was not an easy time and the mosquitoes
combined with the heat made it worse,” she added

“It was never a dull moment for us
stay-at-home moms, when we were not cooking, preparing food and cleaning the
house we were gathering black manger wood to smoke out the mosquitoes.”

Black manger wood, collected from
Pease Bay, was used as a mosquito repellent.

When she was not collecting
firewood, she would walk to Pease Bay with her sister Audrey to gather sisal

Sisal was used to make slippers to supplement
the small household income.

After it was collected, it was
scraped, washed, dyed, hung out to dry, plaited and sewn to make the slippers.

“Just thinking about the process makes
me itch. When you got it on the skin it felt just like cow itch,” she said.

“For all that work, plus the
itching, I received only three Jamaican dollars for each pair”.

When building their first home,
Mrs. Frederick remembers backing gravel, sand and water from the well, so that
the men could mix cement.

 “It was hard raising those children but it was
lots of fun.

“We may have a modern society today
and fancy gadgets to work with, but nothing beats raising children in a clean,
carefree and safe environment,” she said.

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