Mama’s Green Soap

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Back in 1907, only the rich used store-bought soaps that were heavily perfumed for the ladies.

In a dog-eared letter, Gaudias writes home and says: “If things bad at home, tell brothers come. Bring Mama’s green soap.”

AT the turn of the century, everyone washed, when they did wash, with home made soap. These soaps were usually brown or green. All soaps were made from rendered fat, usually mutton fat.

Because soap making was a tedious and lengthy process, many ladies made a women’s day of it with family members taking turns as one stirred the mixture for hours, making bars that they would share.

Part of every woman’s training meant learning about the various trees and garden plants that grew nearby. Ladies knew that to sweeten the smell of their spouses, they added garden ingredients into their soaps. These women, early chemists in their own rights, learned from their mothers and grandmothers before them, of all the beneficial properties of the surrounding flora. They learned that:

· Crushed peppermint leaves were added to heal cuts and bruises.

· Eucalyptus leaves were crushed into a paste and added for bronchial infections.

· The liquid from boiled spruce needles provided a clean, fresh glow.

· Comfrey leaves were crushed and the juices added for improving digestion.

· Lavender flowers were boiled and added to prevent bed bugs.

· Basil leaves were mixed in to curb nasal infections.

· Rosemary leaves cleared sore throats.

Photo courtesy of https://images.app.goo.gl/Cqu5RAs2pgJm53hn7

Joyce

Joyce Derenas is a historical fiction author who writes stories based on the real lives of her French-Canadian ancestors of the Beauce Valley in Quebec.