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Remembering the Soaps
“Rinso White, Rinso Bright! Happy Little Washday Song”
It was time to tune in the radio for an afternoon of soap operas. Mothers were at home in those days and the soaps offered a distraction during their very full days. A little saying described a mother’s life: “Man may work from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done”. She was the first to arise early each morning and the last to crawl into bed each night knowing that tomorrow will also be a busy day.
The radio played in the background as she washed and dried the dishes after preparing and serving lunch for the family. She listened as Ma Perkins talked to her friend, Shuffle, or helped her adult daughters, Faye and Evy with their latest crisis. It was a very slow moving saga that continued until the end of November, 1960.
Commercial break: “OOO that Oxydol sparkle”. Then on to the next 15 minute segment. She could sympathize with “Young Widder Brown” or “The Romance of Helen Trent”. Stella Dallas looked on as her beloved daughter, Lollie baby lived life among the upper crust family of her rich husband.
Back stage wife stood by her hubby who was an actor, or Front Page Farrell the newspaper man . Pepper Young’s Family faced challenges as did Young Doctor Malone. Later in the afternoon would be Lorenzo Jones whose faithful wife stood by him and his inventions no one wanted. Just Plain Bill was the barber who had interesting experiences with his customers as they solved the problems of the world.
Over the years other shows came and went, but the classic of all was “One Man’s Family” with Father and Mother Barber and their large family of children and grandchildren. It was one of the last to end in the late 1960s.
Interspersed were “a word from our sponsor” where jingles and tunes touted soap and some other things, too. “Good to the last drop”…Maxwell House coffee, Plop, plop, fizz, fizz….oh what a relief it is recommended AlkaSeltzer. “Whiz, best candy bar there is”…or maybe it was Bear cat candy bar accompanied by a banjo. Ivory soap was “99/100 percent pure” and it floats. Super Suds was a wash day wonder. P&G soap had many ad spots. Beauty soaps included Camay, the soap of beautiful women, and also Lux bars that would make you as lovely as a movie star. Dreen shampoo made hair sparkling clean.
The mother would listen as she ironed, sewed, swept, mopped, cooked and baked, tended the kiddies, fed and changed the baby. How different the lives depicted on the soap operas were from her own mundane day to day existence.
Then things changed. Mother left for work, labor saving appliances relieved much of the drudgery, children were in daycare, the super market provided most of their food, TV replaced the radio shows, but life was still lived at a fast and now stressful pace. Women’s Lib was here.
Those radio days soap operas are only memories now….nostalgia to fill quiet moments of very senior aged ladies. I guess we can still “See the USA in your Chevrolet”, or think about our “bewildering offspring”, but mostly we are moving on. Who knows what will be next.
Contributed by Marilyn Goodwin