Work That Has No End

June 12, 1885 – Inez Milliken Philbrick was born in Mendocino, the third of six children born to James and Lizzie Milliken. Inez grew up in Mendocino, graduating from Mendocino High School in 1904. After attending San Jose Normal School (now San Jose State University) to obtain her teaching degree, she returned to Mendocino County to teach in the local schools. Inez married John Philbrick in 1909 and moved to a ranch in Comptche.

In the early 1970s, she wrote a memoir that includes family history and many descriptions of her life as a child and young woman. She titled it, “A Book That Has No End,” but perhaps it should have been titled “Work That Has No End.” Here are some excerpts from her book:

Childhood

…Mother was the cleanest housekeeper I have ever seen… She had a regular schedule, and Heaven or High Water couldn’t change it one bit.

  • Saturday was wash day…
  • Sunday was rest day. Sunday School, Church twice a day, Christian Endeavor after we had graduated from Junior Endeavor…
  • Monday was ironing day… Five girls with petticoats, panties, corset covers, dress of calico or percale, table mats, sheets (ironed), pillowcases, and shams changed once a week made up to a lot of ironing…
  • Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were for darning, patching, crocheting petticoats…
  • Friday she cleaned every inch of every room upstairs – from stem to stern.

After Marriage and Children

7 individual photos of teenagers
Graduates of Mendocino High School Class of 1904. From top to bottom: James Hurley, Jesse Lemoine, Stella Bever, Inez Milliken, M. E. Vaughn, Meta Browne, James Cooney.

…Eight meals most days all summer.

  • Breakfast for Kelly Wellman, G.M.C. truck driver at 5 a.m.
  • At 6 a.m., hired man and tie makers or shingle bolt makers (after Donald took over the ranch).
  • 8 a.m., breakfast for teacher and my children and whatever children the teacher had brought.
  • Truck driver home at 11 a.m. for dinner.
  • 12 a.m. for farmhands and children before they started school.
  • 5 p.m. supper for teacher and children and mine.
  • 6 p.m. for anyone who hadn’t eaten.
  • Somedays another supper for John who used to stay out in the field to get ready for the work the hired men would be waiting to do. Then it would be a 9 p.m. supper. Two wood stoves going until the corn or beans had boiled three hours.

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