Sadie's Bar of Soap

Contributed by Notting Hill Preparatory School - London

My object is a bar of soap made by my great-great grandmother in rural Estonia in the 1920's. It's approximately 2 inches square. The family lived a very basic life and everything was homemade; they even grew their own flax for making cloth. It would have been made of animal fats and lye. Pork fat created a superior soap, beef fat a cheaper and greasier one, with less of a lather. Some places in Estonia even used fish. In those days soap was used mainly for washing hair and women were expected to wash their men's hair on a Saturday night. Vinegar would have been used instead of conditioner or occasionally butter.
My great-great grandmother stayed behind in Estonia while her daughter and young family escaped from the Communists in 1942 and went to a refugee camp in Germany, even though Germany was under the Nazi's. They eventually settled in the UK, though by mistake as my great-grandfather forgot his glasses and ticked the box for UK instead of Canada. My great-great grandmother joined them in the 1960's. My grandmother found the soap when she went back to Estonia and visited the farm where her grandmother had lived as young woman.

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