The Ritual of Shaving in the Past.

Nora Williams, late of Clogherboy

Shaving was a big deal

Ritual I may call it, it was such a big deal. We all had to be quiet while my mother got everything ready. She laid out all of my father’s change of clothes on the back of the chair to have them well aired for his lordship. She brought down the freestanding mirror from the room and placed it on the table and a nice soft towel hanging nearby.

The kettle was boiling so she filled the basin of very hot water ready for shaving, a bar of Sunlight soap and a big cut-throat razor. It used to frighten us to see it, not like the safety razors of later years.

Sharpening the razor

My father stripped down to the waist all set, except he had to sharpen his razor. First he had a leather strap hanging on the side of the dresser so he rubbed the blade up and down for several minutes, then he would come down to where we were sitting and I can remember him pulling a rib of hair from my head to test if the razor was sharp enough to shave away the weeks growth.

It was a risky business

There was always a bit of newspaper on hand in case he would nip himself. First he lathered his face with lashings of soap and hot water, softened the stubble, and with long strokes down his neck he soon finished the ritual. My mother had to stay close by in case he needed more water or such. When all that was over he would decide if he wanted a haircut – short back and sides – which my mother had to do the best of her ability. Washed himself down and dried himself and all was over.

Then he changed his shirt, which was worn for a full week. They were called gran-dad shirts with a few top buttons at the top. There were several collars and fronts all starched ready for emergencies. So, he would put on one front and collar and he looked like the’ bees knees’. He wore very heavy drawers or long- johns as they are now so called. They were so heavy made of flannel, which he wore, summer or winter. His Sunday boots were ready for him, which he put on and then, had his tea before going out for a few pints to his local.

Not an easy life for a woman

When I think of what poor women went through just to keep the peace. There was no such thing as the man to look after his wife. It was her duty and that’s what she did. Not a lot of respect then but none the less they married for richer or poorer till death do us part. Thank God women have equal rights and husbands that respect them and so should it be.

This page was added on 27/09/2018.

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