The Light Parlours (Die Lichtstuben)

The old straw industry was worked in the home, in the farmhouses with straw workers meeting in the long winter evenings. Working together allowed them to escape from boredom of the repetitive work and had the added advantage of saving on the expenses of lighting and heating. The straw workers enjoyed these social meetings, the time passed quickly as they joked, told stories, gossiped and sang whilst all the time they worked with the straw.


These meetings did not meet with the approval of the authorities who claimed the workers were idle and preferred straw work when they should be labouring and doing farm work.


The accounts from the Rafzerfeld are not isolated. There are similar accounts from Gruyere. In the Aargau, one finds references to Schnürli parlours (straw threads parlours) where the workers gathered to spin the straw threads (Schnürli). Other home-based industries such as spinning suffered the similar criticism.

Hubert Boschung, september 1997