The December 1917 issue of McCall’s magazine was published in the midst of World War I. As such, the issue is full of ads, articles, and letters that concern life for women at home while the men were off fighting. One article in this issue is called “The Junior Home Reserves,” and refers to a club for girls whose motto is,
“It’s Our War, too, and we’ll help. We’re the Junior Home Reserves, and every day, each one of us will save so many minutes of our mother’s time for our country’s use.”
One way the girls could save their mother’s time was by making the bed. For those of us who hate making the bed (I have no hesitation in admitting that this includes me), I would think that if we had to follow the drawn out instructions here, there would be many days when the bed was simply left to its own devices.
There were several things that had to be done in preparation for making the bed. Here are the first steps, taken directly from the article:
“See that the covers are taken from the bed before breakfast. Begin with your own bed. Take off the pillows and covers, one at a time, and spread on chairs by the open window, being careful they do not touch the floor. Then close your bedroom door, so the air will not cool off the rest of the house.
“Do the same with the other beds your mother is willing you should take charge of. After breakfast, take one room at a time and put it in order. Brush off the mattress with a whiskbroom, being careful that no dust lingers around the tufts. Every morning take a damp – not wet – cloth, and wipe the framework of the bed if it is wood or enamel. (If it is brass, do not do this.) If you were big and strong, you could turn the mattress every morning, but this is too heavy work for you even to try. Perhaps Mother or Big Sister or Brother will do this. If so, the mattress should be turned back over the foot of the bed to air, at the same time as the bed clothing, and you should wipe off the springs with a dry cloth – a damp cloth would rush them, but a brush dipped in kerosene will not and should be used on the springs once a week.
Whew. Not only does it sound very involved, it also sounds a little dangerous. I have honestly never heard of brushing bed springs with kerosene! But all of this is only the beginning. Next comes the actual making of the bed. Here, we have a great little set of pictures of what is presumably one of the Junior Reservists at work, along with step by step instructions.
And with that, we’re just about done.
“The bed is now ready for spread or counterpane. You should put these on the way your mother likes to have them, though I am sure she will be glad to have you learn to turn the ‘hospital corners,’ just as you would do if you were a Nurse’s Aid in a Red Cross hospital.”
Finally, if you had been a member of the Junior Home Reserves, here is the “army pledge” you would have completed.