National Geographic : 1962 Sep
Friends toil and frolic at a flax-scutching bee ONE of the hardest household chores in the early American home was prepar ing flax so that it could be woven into linen. 372 Here neighborly aid lightens the work of scutching, or separating fibers from woody stalks. The flax brake, or grinding machine, at left crushed the stalks. Paddles, known as swingling knives, beat the fibers over boards until they broke free. This assembly line, painted about a hun dred years ago, combines work with horseplay, rustic courting, and plenty to eat and drink.