Friday, January 4, 2013

DOWNTON ABBEY a la Youngstown

Mahoning Valley Historical Society - Youngstown, OH
The Arms Family Museum, Wick Avenue, Youngstown, OH

The country is all abuzz about the premier of Downton Abbey this Sunday.  

I remember when there were a few great homes still left on 5th Avenue in Youngstown, all of which had domestic servants.  My Aunt Katie told me that, in the 1930's she had helped train newly arrived young women to go into domestic service in some of these great homes.  I believe she said it was the International Institute at which Katie taught them sewing and mending.  She also taught them how to manage a "mangle," which is a large circular iron.  It was used to press sheets and table linens.  Williams-Sonoma still carry mangles in their catalogues!

These young women would then go into "service" as housekeepers, often first starting  as scullery maids, like Daisy in Downton.  Katie also helped them with their English.  She was a first-generation American and so had been brought up in the American elementary school system.  Although Croatian was spoken at home, Aunt Katie and her sister Liz taught my grandparents to speak better English.

Drive down Fifth Avenue sometime and look at the homes.  There are still some wonderful examples of the Millionaire's Row homes.  The Arms Family Museum, pictured above, is a great place to start to get a flavor of what life was like in these homes.

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